A Review of Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution
It was my joy and honor to write this review posted today at The Gospel Coalition website.
To read the article click here.
It was my joy and honor to write this review posted today at The Gospel Coalition website.
To read the article click here.
Our age abounds with peace-breaking tension.
Internationally, the streets of Hong Kong and the Strait of Hormuz–just to name two–know life-threatening tension.
Nationally, our nation’s capitol reverberates with rancor and division over immigration policy and a host of other clashing views.
Evangelically, the Reformed camp struggles with sharp disagreement such as I have never seen in my pastoral lifetime over issues of ethnic diversity, social justice, and racial reconciliation.
And these say nothing of the other forms of conflict and disunity that affect our communities, churches, homes, and relationships of all kinds.
Thankfully, Brian Noble of Peacemaker Ministries has contributed another helpful weapon to the peacemaking arsenal for fighting the good fight of peace in any context. The Path of a Peacemaker: Your Biblical Guide to Healthy Relationships, Conflict Resolution, and a Life of Peace (Baker, 2019, 238 pages) turns the tables on tension early on in its pages. Noble relates his own tension-filled upbringing story and how God used it as a positive force in his journey.
He then proceeds to develop in detail a four-part rubric for navigating tension born of conflict to positive, peacemaking ends.
He guides the reader through one, story–tell our stories together; two, ascend–pray and read Scripture together; three, reflect–take personal responsibility; and connect–ask, confess, seek, and forgive. He encourages the reader:
A path of a peacemaker conversation is not about perfection. It’s about being willing. It’s about being vulnerable. It’s about being sincere in seeking peace. It’s about caring enough to involve yourself in something that—let’s face it—could be uncomfortable (194).
I particularly appreciated Noble’s repeated emphasis on the importance of humility (I’ve suffered my share of failure with my prideful nature) at every point on the peacemaking path.
Citing Jesus’s example in John 8:1-11 he writes: “Humility has the power to change everything. It is one of the most important lessons we can learn from Jesus. Jesus changed the world with humility” (101).
Brian Noble writes well. He relates stories effectively to bring home his points. He excels in the practical. The questions he suggests asking for connecting in the chapter on forgiveness could be worth the price of the book!
Noble includes plenty of biblical references pertinent to a sound peacemaking theology. He does not make it his purpose to delve deeply in exegetical study. But he writes on solid theological ground–including his appeal to the gospel as the means and power for putting the path of a peacemaker into process.
You have to love where he lands the plane:
Even though this book is based on a set of steps to help you find peace with someone you’ve been warring with, it’s not about the process. The process is just a means to an end. What really matters is action. When you invite someone to sit and talk about something that has hurt you, that’s taking action. When you forgive someone who’s hurt you, that’s taking action. When you make amends for some offense, that’s taking action.
Buy the book. Master the process. Walk the path.
A Book Review Amazon Declined
You learn all kinds of things publishing a book.
Whenever anybody tells me they have read The Peacemaking Church, I’m so very grateful and appreciative for their investment of time and effort.
Additionally I request that they post a fair and honest review at online sales giant Amazon. Everything Baker Publishing tells me about getting my book out into the world depends upon a strong showing in these evaluations.
Twice now folks willing to do that have reported back to me getting shut out of Amazon due to their lack of purchases over the past twelve months. Go figure.
I asked one of those readers if he would grant permission for me to post his review on my blog. He graciously consented.
Pastor Heffelfinger offers valuable perspectives for the pursuit of unity among the saints. He puts before us the challenge to endeavor to be the kind of people who treasure a unified Church; who are vigilant in turning the spotlight inward to identify corrosive idols so that, as he proposes, “[T]he best fight your congregation ever experiences is the one you never get into in the first place.” The truths presented in The Peacemaking Church are weapons in a believer’s arsenal that will awaken (or perhaps reawaken) beautiful, powerful insights unique to the function of this Body to which we belong. Pastor Heffelfinger has lived out these insights, and the case he presents will only help to strengthen your own peacemaking quotient.
I wrote this book in the hopes of making readers peacemaking strong. Jan and I continue to pray that the Lord will use it to that end with whomever he will.
Thanks, Jeff, for the kindness of your favorable review and especially for ending on the word quotient!
Question: What will you do in 2019 to help strengthen your peacemaking quotient?
Giving Thanks for Results Far Beyond My Expectations
On Sunday evening, November 25, I experienced my first-ever book signing event. I had no idea what to expect. Talk about new territory for this rookie author!
I wondered how many folks would possibly venture out on a holiday weekend for such a reason. We didn’t count heads, but the numbers and the outcome far exceeded my expectations.
My successor at OGC, Pastor Jim, texted me the next day saying he was blown away—and I quote: “Book signings in the 21st century are almost extinct. You officially had more people than Hillary Clinton’s last book signing!”
I seriously doubt that, but I appreciated the comment as his way of congratulating me on a surprising success. Back now at home in Idaho, I just had to post my thanksgiving for the following things:
One, the gracious hospitality of Orlando Grace Church in opening the fellowship hall for the evening and for making the atmosphere so utterly attractive and warm.
Two, for Kathy H. and a host of other servants who bent over backwards to make Jan and me feel welcomed and to serve our guests with top-shelf refreshments and care.
Three, for family, OGC folks, previous church folks, La Floresta neighbors, and even people I’d never met before waiting patiently in the long line for signing and pictures.
Four, for my neuropathy-impaired right hand holding up through two-plus hours of signing and contributing reasonably legible notes and signatures.
Five, for how many folks purchased multiple copies informing me of their intention to gift their pastors with one. Jan and I repeatedly pray that the Lord will put The Peacemaking Church in the hands of whomever He will for the good of their souls and the peace of their churches.
Six, for getting out nearly every single copy of the six cases we had Baker ship to Orlando. I took only three copies back home in my carry on.
Seven, for a deacon who took twenty-five copies to give to family and friends as Christmas gifts. Thankfully he required me to sign just the one for him!
Eight, for everyone who supported the launch with a purchase of the book.
And nine—if I may be so bold to give thanks in advance for this praise—for everyone who will read the book they bought and post a fair and honest review on Amazon as soon as possible.
The presence of numerous reviews makes a big difference in getting a book out into the world and Amazon is the place to do it. You can post your review here.
Again, my thanks to all who contributed to a book launch beyond my wildest dreams. Please pray with me that the Lord will use The Peacemaking Church to His glory and the church’s good!
Question: What quote or idea from the book thus far has impacted you?
Three Reasons I Wrote “The Peacemaking Church”
The wisdom writer warns: “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecc. 12:12). As it was in Solomon’s day, so it remains today.
According to one source, publishers around the globe have produced nearly 2.3 million books this year. On November 20 my book will join the collection. Why add to this endless making?
I wrote The Peacemaking Church for three primary reasons.
One, there is a story to tell. Not just mine, though I describe my share of personal examples–mostly a number of painful blunders along the way. This is an entire church’s journey.
I explain in the introduction that Orlando Grace Church suffered traumatic conflict twice in its history. The painful details bear no repeating. No need to reopen old wounds.
Our story begins with a fierce campaign to cultivate a culture of peace to prevent a third meltdown—if we could possibly help it.
Thus far, hiccups notwithstanding, we have managed to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3). That story needs telling.
Two, there is a need to meet. In his foreword to the book, Ken Sande opens with a redacted version of Matthew 18:20. “Where two or three come together in Jesus’s name . . . there will soon be conflict.”
The New Testament reflects that reality. Just observe the sheer volume of texts which address some form of conflict therein!
Anyone hanging around church for any length of time will likely confirm the same. It doesn’t matter where you go.
It was true in metro Orlando for me. I saw it on a recent trip overseas. It exists right here in my new home in rural Idaho.
And it doesn’t take much to set off a firestorm of trouble. In the introduction to my book, I cite Twenty-Five Silly Things Church Members Fight Over to make the point–like the length of the worship leader’s beard!
I wrote The Peacemaking Church to add a proactive, stay-out-of-trouble resource to the Baker suite of books currently addressing reactive strategies for dealing with conflict.
I ask this question right up front: What if the best fight your church ever has is the one it never gets into in the first place? This approach needed addressing in a book like this.
Three, there is now a tool to help. I appreciated every endorsement commending The Peacemaking Church, but Pastor Alfred Poirier, author of The Peacemaking Pastor, well distilled what I hoped would come across in the pages.
Out of the pain of church conflict comes a refreshingly biblical and practical guide for building peace, resolving conflict, and preserving unity in the body of Christ.
Biblical and practical sum up my hopes for The Peacemaking Church. I wrote it to root church leaders and followers alike in the Scriptures and to equip them with tools which will help make them heavyweight champions of peace and unity in their churches.
A Celebration for the Release of “The Peacemaking Church”
It gives me enormous pleasure to announce that Orlando Grace Church will host an evening of giving thanks for launching the availability of my book.
I dedicated The Peacemaking Church: 8 Biblical Keys to Resolve Conflict and Preserve Unity to the covenant members of OGC. Without their story such a work would have never come into existence.
It only makes sense to travel back to Central Florida for a book launch party!
Please join Jan and me on November 25, 2018 for a night of savoring what the Lord has done through his people. Come and stay or visit for even just a few minutes in the OGC fellowship hall from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.
For this special event copies of the book will be available for purchase for the one-time-only cost of $10 ($15.99 retail). I will be signing copies throughout the evening. Finger desserts, a coffee bar, and punch will be served.
Bring a friend and pick up a copy of The Peacemaking Church for yourself and perhaps a few more for gifts this holiday season.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
An Update on a Book Long in Coming
I submitted to Baker Publishing Group a proposal for writing a book way back at the end of 2014.
Much to my delight they accepted and fixed a date for submission.
Then the wheels came off with Nancy’s cancer fight and my jaw surgeries.
My editor graciously granted one delay after another.
In September of last year, I finally turned in a draft manuscript.
After Baker ran me through the editorial meat grinder (thankfully), I labored over a revision. It passed muster with the publisher in December 2017.
Today I learned from the marketing department that Baker posted a page on their website about the book with links to Amazon and other vendors. You can access it here.
I love the cover they designed. Ken Sande of RW360 wrote me a more-favorable-than-I-dared-imagine foreword. Thank you, brother!
The subtitle differs from my suggested version: The Best Fight Is the One Your Church Never Has. But what do I know? When you’re a rookie, you gladly defer to the pros.
The process begins now for seeking endorsements. That’s a big deal, since I’m a small potatoes pastor in Florida. But God knows how He may use the effort.
Baker tells me they plan to publish this November. Watch for further updates, if you are at all interested. I’ll keep you posted.
I am so grateful for God’s grace to get this done. Thanks to so many who have cheered me along the road to publication.
Books change lives. I believe that with all my heart. Over forty-one years of walking with Jesus now, I have experienced over and over again the power of God unleashed in my life through an extra-biblical resource devoured at just the right time.
That’s why we have a resource center at OGC. And it’s why we feature various works from time to time in order to commend them to folks. For the first quarter of 2014 I have decided to draw attention to Richard Phillips’ excellent volume called “What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace.” For my previous review of this primer on the doctrines of grace click here.
Why beat the drum for a book for a second time? Couple of reasons. First, new folks to OGC will profit immensely from reading these pages, especially if the grid of reformed theology is something of a new concept. You won’t find an exhaustive treatment of TULIP within, but you will get a first-rate introduction to glorious truth.
Second, the volume will accompany quite nicely one of our new Equipping Hour (9:30-10:30 AM) classes starting this Sunday, January 5. Deacon Matt West will teach an introduction to reformed theology (meets in W1). If you have yet to take this core class in our three-year discipleship scope and sequence, I urge you to do so this time around. Of course you won’t go wrong with either of the other two offerings, namely biblical finance (F4) and New Testament (G0spels, Acts, & Hebrews – W5), but for a church with our confession of faith, everyone needs to take the reformed theology intro at least once.
I am happy to say that we have nearly a dozen or so copies in the resource center for the low price (our cost) of $7.00. Pick up a copy this Sunday!
While surfing the web recently in search of Advent resources to use for our church, I stumbled across a little book with a provocative title. Christmas Uncut: What Really Happened and Why it Really Matters, by Carl Laferton (The Good Book Company, 2012, 64 pages), offers an unusual take on the Christmas story that engages, informs, and convicts on several levels.
Laferton cleverly and humorously launches the book and each chapter from a playful reminiscing of church-goers’ nativity pageant experiences to take the reader into an study of the gospels and a look at the real Christmas story, uncut as it were. His aim is to rescue the heart of the season’s message from what it has become. He explains:
When children act out the nativity, it doesn’t have much in common with the historical Christmas. Over time, we’ve cut huge, crucial bits out. We’ve added nice but completely made-up details. We’ve made it into a tale for children, and forgotten the real events. (Did you know that there were no kings or donkey?!)
We’ve turned Christmas history into a nativity play.
I don’t want to be a spoilsport. Nativity plays are part of the whole Christmas experience, along with desperate last-minute shopping and sending cards to people who you didn’t make the effort to see last year, and won’t make the effort to see next year. . . . It’s just that the real Christmas is much more interesting than what we’ve turned it into. It’s worth rescuing and re-telling. . . . What there was at the first Christmas was scandal. Controversy. Massacres. Mystery (p. 6).
In the brief chapters that follow, the author seeks to accomplish three things. First, correct misconceptions. By taking the reader through the biblical texts, he tells the real uncut story and sets the record straight. Second, make application. He skillfully spans the horizons between the first century and the 21st showing how the uncut details of the Christmas story can and should make a difference in our daily lives. Third, answer objections. Realizing that his book may well fall into the hands of skeptics and hoping, I suspect, that believers will put copies there, Laferton offers some “Yes, but” chapters at the end addressing answers to questions as to the authenticity of the gospels, the identity of Jesus, and the historicity of the resurrection.
I can see this resource serving multiple purposes in the Advent season. First, if you feel the need for a fresh look at the story of Christ’s incarnation to jump start your joy in God this Advent season, I believe this will help. Camp out in these pages throughout December, maybe a chapter every couple of days, and ask the Lord to revive your enthusiasm in Him as you read its pages.
Second, if you are the head of your household and want a tool you can use for family worship for you and your children, I think you will find this just the ticket. Kids will resonate with the artwork as well as the nativity play humor. Additionally, Lafteron writes in a straight forward, easy-to-understand style, that will communicate with just about everybody.
Third, if you have been building a relationship with someone who doesn’t know Jesus, you could give them this as a Christmas gift. Ask them to read it and discuss it with you. This may be Lafteron’s biggest contribution in writing Christmas Uncut. While the apologetic details of the final chapter only provide a minimum of ammunition for answering the skeptic’s questions, it will give you a starting place.
I read this little book in one sitting and found my heart all the more grateful for the tidings of great joy that lie at the heart of the Christmas story uncut. I trust you will too.
Don’t think of it as rushing things. Yes, I know we still have a few days left in December. And we still do have a copy of December’s resource of the month left in our resource center for anyone still needing to snag John Piper’s Momentary Marriage for a measly $5. Think of this post as a way to get a jump on the New Year with another great read.
January’s resource costs twice as much at $10 per copy, but I assure you it is worth the cost. I selected How to Read to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart (Zondervan, third edition, 2003, 275 pages) for a time-sensitive reason. Beginning January 7 during the 9:30 AM Equipping Hour at OGC, we will commence three new classes in our discipleship scope and sequence. For more information on all three check your insert in tomorrow’s worship bulletin. Also, look for future blog posts on this site by all the instructors.
As we heard last week however, during the announcements, Ted Herrbach will teach the class called How to Study the Bible. Let me suggest that this handbook by Fee and Stuart would make an excellent companion text for Ted’s class for anyone intending to take it. Billed as “a practical approach to Bible study in an easy-to-understand style” the authors build most of the book (chapters 3-13) around the different genres of the Bible (Epistles, Old Testament narratives, Acts, the Gospels, Parables, Law, Prophets, Psalms, Wisdom, and Revelation). They explain why this particular approach in the introduction:
What we do hope to achieve is to heighten the reader’s sensitivity to specific problems inherent in each genre, to help the reader know why different options exist and how to make commonsense judgments, and especially to enable the reader to discern between good and not-so-good interpretations–and to know what makes them one or the other (p. 21).
They open with an informative chapter on choosing a good translation. While I would differ with their recommendation to favor the TNIV, they do make several good arguments for why consulting multiple translations makes sense for solid Bible study determined to get at the commonsense meanings of a text. Why they have so little to say about the ESV, given its widespread popularity in evangelical circles these days, puzzles me, but that does little to detract from the helpfulness of this resource. They close with an appendix on the evaluation and use of commentaries that includes suggested volumes for various books of the Bible.
Starting tomorrow we will have over twenty copies of this book for purchase in our resource center for $10 each. Why not get a head start on this important subject by picking up a copy to read over the New Year’s holiday, especially if you intend to take Ted’s class? If you want to avoid bad interpretation of the Bible and recognize that not bothering to learn interpretation skills is not the answer but rather doing good interpretation based on commonsense guidelines is a nonnegotiable, then this book is for you.