A PEACEMAKER’S PRAYER

Ken Sande’s Help for Praying Like a Peacemaker

Ken Sande & Me

Last week I was privileged to reconnect with my good friend and peacemaking mentor, Ken Sande.

He spoke for the opening plenary session at a conference hosted by Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

RW360, Ken’s ministry championing a biblical approach to emotional intelligence, distributed copies of the following: A Peacemaker’s Prayer (used by permission).

Oh Lord God,
today I am called to be a peacemaker,
but I am unfit for the task.

By nature I am a peace-faker
and a peace-breaker,
so I myself need help.

Others ask me to understand and guide them,
but my ears are dull, my eyes are dim,
and I lack the wisdom they need.

But you, Lord, have all they need,
so I come to you for supply.

Make me fit for your purposes,
so I might serve them
and honor you.

Cleanse me from my own sin,
so I will not add to their problems;
take the logs from my eyes
so I can remove the specks from theirs.

Fill me with your Spirit,
so they may benefit from your fruit:
love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Give me wisdom from above,
so I might be pure and peace-loving,
considerate and submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit,
impartial and sincere.

Open your Word to my eyes
and to my heart,
so I will have a steady lamp
to light our path.

Strip me of my own agenda and desires,
so I might look only to others’ good
and be absolutely worthy of their trust.

Help me to model everything I teach,
so others can see the way.

Give me humility to admit my weaknesses
and confess my wrongs,
so others might do the same.

Draw me again and again into prayer,
where you can strengthen and correct me.

Make me submissive — help me to show
that I myself am under authority.

Help me to treat others
as I want to be treated,
so they may see
the essence of your Law.

Make me creative, versatile, and adaptable,
so I can adjust to the surprises ahead.

Help me to accept others
as you have accepted me,
and thus bring praise to your name.

Give me faith and perseverance,
so I will not doubt your provision
or abandon your principles,
even when others fight against them.

Grant me the gift of encouragement,
to give others hope
and help them believe
that our labor is not in vain.

Help me to model your forgiveness,
so relationships are healed
and your Gospel is revealed.

Grant me discernment so that I may read
the deep waters of others’ hearts,
sort fiction from fact,
and know when it’s time to act.

Give me boldness and courage,
tempered with kindness,
to confront others in love,
so they might see their errors
and find their way back to you.

Help me to prepare thoroughly
and not presume upon your grace.

Make me just and fair,
so that even if people disagree
with my counsel they will believe
that I treated them well.

In short, Father,
please give me the Spirit of Christ,
so that I might walk in his steps
and guide your people
into the path of your peace.

My prayer is that you will make this prayer a regular part of meditative reflection.

May it help shape you as a peacemaking force in every situation.

RESOLVING EVERYDAY CONFLICT

New Equipping Hour Class Starting January 7, 2018

This Sunday at Orlando Grace Church we begin this video curriculum study.

Peacemaker Ministries describes it like this:

We all have conflict. Think about the people you know. They may not be in the middle of a big blow up, but they certainly have tense conversations around the breakfast table or difficulties with an overbearing boss. Or more seriously, perhaps their marriage is on the verge of falling apart. Regardless, they are looking for answers.

Resolving Everyday Conflict is an eight-lesson study that unpacks the amazing things the Bible has to say about conflict and relationships. As you go through this study, you’ll find the powerful and practical answers you are looking for to forever change how conflict looks in your life.

Join us for group discussion and video instruction on this strategic subject starting at 9:30 AM in Room F5.

Watch the video promo below!

GOD OF THE NEW THING

The Best News I’ve Had in a Long Time

A dear friend recently encouraged me with these words from the sacred text:

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Isa. 43:19).

The purpose of this post is to report a new thing, a good thing, I perceive the Lord doing in my life.

Development business concept

Recently I’ve begun to get to know personally a godly woman in my church.

Jan Spence has been a covenant member at Orlando Grace for a couple of years now. I approached her a month ago with the notion of entertaining something more than a shepherd/sheep relationship between us. Would she even consider praying about it?, I asked–half expecting to get shot down in a ball of flames.

Though my initiative shocked her somewhat, she chose not to run for her life. She prayed. Then she hit me with some forthright, understandably necessary questions. I answered each honestly before the Lord. And then she said, “Yes, I’m willing.”

Well, what in the world to do now? Needless to say, I’ve not swum in these for waters for decades. And Jan has been quite content in her singleness for the last twelve years. We decided to talk on the phone initially keeping things between the two of us.

The more questions we asked of each other and responses we shared, the more our mutual attraction began growing. We quickly discerned the wisdom of confiding in the elders of our church for their protection and counsel. Much guidance has come through them. We welcome their ongoing accountability.

Our biggest puzzle has been how to go public with the news. Both of us want to love our church and friends well. My role as a pastor requires extra care here in guarding the welfare of my church to the degree that I can. Jan wants that very much as well. We have no peace about people learning this piecemeal through here-and-there conversations.

So, the more we prayed and counseled, the more we settled on my doing what I always do. Blog. I’ve sought to cultivate my author’s voice through this medium for years now. It has served me well both in keeping folks up to speed with my health issues and my family losses.

We simply cannot think of a better way to inform as many folks at the same time as possible. Furthermore this creates a written account of things so that those who hear secondhand have a resource to access for the firsthand version.

Jan wisely asked me about my grief process in mourning Nancy. I don’t know that the sense of loss attached to losing someone so special in your life ever completely ends. Honestly, I have wondered myself at times about the place of contentment I found on the other side of my bereavement leave.

I attribute that to God’s grace, enormous support, confidence of Nan’s eternal destiny, focusing on the great marriage we had—almost 42 years I never deserved—and, finally, the anticipatory grief I experienced for fifteen months, which I spoke about in my last post.

But there comes a time for moving on when spiritual, emotional, and mental health permit. Those who know me best validate that God has done a work in helping me in this regard.

The affirmation Jan and I have received from our spiritual leadership, closest confidants, and our extended families has given us great encouragement to continue down the road of exploring what God has for us.

With all the heartache and suffering of late, I welcome this providence as God’s gift and could not be happier for it. Perhaps Psalm 30:11-12 best summarizes my sentiments:

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

In case anyone at OGC is wondering . . . I have asked Jan if she will sit with me on Sundays at church. Though the challenge of assuming a seat once occupied by Nancy is not lost on her, she has agreed to that as well.

Please pray for us to abide in the will of God at every turn as we wait on Him and continue to get to know one another. Thank you.

SWEET REASONABLENESS

Something for Which To Be Well Known

So there I am last Monday morning. I show up at the hospital for a 9:00 AM appointment. Time for a “swallow study.” Gotta love the consequences of a jaw do-over.

Reading my hurry-up-and-wait book, I overhear a nearby conversation. A radiology tech apologizes profusely to an elderly couple. “They scheduled him for the wrong procedure. What he needs is a swallow study.”

 

Oops, Young Person Made a Mistake

Forget about the book.  What’s the deal here? Administrative mistake apparently. Let’s just say Mama three seats over was not happy.

Exit the tech. Ten minutes later the same young lady returns calling my name. I follow her into radiology. Thinking to make light of things I ask, “You’ve got me down for a swallow study, right?” She stops dead in her tracks. “Ah, no, an esophagram.” Terrific. Murphy lives.

Now I come to a halt. “My doctor ordered a swallow study.” Apparently he didn’t. It takes us the better part of 90 minutes to get to the bottom of things, but somebody messed up somewhere, no doubt about it.

Now I face a peacemaker’s decision–go off on the poor girl for something she had nothing to do with–or I can choose the Philippians 4:5 way. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.”

Talk about an interesting Greek word! That term translated “reasonableness” shows up only five times in the New Testament. One resource unpacks it this way:

The word signifies a humble, patient steadfastness, which is able to submit to injustice, disgrace, and maltreatment without hatred and malice, trusting in God in spite of all of it (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 2:214).

Wow. There’s a challenge. A favorite cross reference of mine using the same Greek term is Titus 3:2–show perfect courtesy to all people. No exceptions. The gospel way is the sweet reasonable way . . . WITH EVERYONE.

I want to be known for that. Do you?

Another Conclusion That Wasn’t

discipleship 101

No, I’m not planning to make a habit of this.

The member family meeting we called for after the service today caused me to trim some things.

As promised, here is the way I planned to land the plane had the runway been longer:

Let me close this message with these eight principles in mind with nine no-brainer steps of application:

One, get equipped to disciple. Get a copy of Trellis and the Vine and read it.

Two, use means. Grab some of the Randy Pope discipling plan packets and get busy. We’ve got a bunch of these for free at the office.

Three, become a member in your local church. Membership solidifies your commitment to be a discipler somewhere and gives you the ideal outlet for it.

Four, become a sanctified busybody. Determine to be the kind of believer that gets in somebody else’s face – IN LOVE! Someone paid our church the best compliment a while back. “I’ve never been in a church where the people are so involved in everybody else’s business.” And she didn’t mean gossip!

Five, take initiative. You have not because you ask not. Reach out to others; don’t wait for them to reach out to you.

Six, get help. Ask your elder or somebody to assist in matching you up with others. Don’t expect everyone to comply. Not everyone has the bandwidth for an ongoing relationship given their season in life.  Some folks don’t want this, even though they claim to be followers of Jesus.  Also, be a discipleship matchmaker without being asked. Look to connect people wherever you can.

Seven, keep on growing in your own walk by the Word and Spirit so you have something to offer to others.

Eight, train others you disciple to do the same things with others. Multiply yourself. Plan to attend one of the new Equipping Hour classes this fall starting September 7 WITH someone else.

And, nine, mediate daily on the gospel of grace that you might not live for yourself but for Him who died for you and therefore gladly spend and be spent for others (2 Cor. 5:14-15; 12:15).

37 Ways to Love One Another

Someone sent me a link with a thorough list of the one another passages of the New Testament confirming my notion that they all constitute intricacies of the ultimate grace of loving within our relationships in the body of Christ.

The author introduces the list with this provocative assertion:

A local church is not built by one man, or even a few men, but by every believer being actively involved in ministry through evangelizing the lost people in their lives and serving their fellow Christians. A quick glance at the practice of the New Testament church reveals that they thought very little about programs and very much about relationships.

For more of his thoughts as well as the complete list of the one another passages for your study and prayer click here.

The Glory of Overlooking an Offense

That’s what Proverbs 19:11 calls it. Glory.

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

The starting place to biblical peacemaking over and over again is the glory of overlooking – choosing to forgive an offense without transacting any communication with the offending party. Proverbs calls that good sense. The Hebrew word means that which reflects prudence, insight, skillful understanding. Few things make us more insightful in relationships than the grace of overlooking offenses.

But when is overlooking appropriate?

Ken Sande suggests the following:

Overlooking is not a passive process in which you simply remain silent for the moment but file away the offense for later use against someone. That is actually a form of denial that can easily lead to brooding over the offense and building up internal bitterness and resentment that will eventually explode in anger. Instead, overlooking is an active process that is inspired by God’s mercy through the gospel. To truly overlook an offense means to deliberately decide not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness. If you cannot let go of an offense in this way, if it is too serious to overlook, or if it continues as part of a pattern in the other person’s life, then you will need to go and talk to the other person about it in a loving and constructive manner.

Overlooking offenses is appropriate under two conditions. First, the offense should not have created a wall between you and the other person or caused you to feel different toward him or her for more than a short period of time. Second, the offense should not be causing serious harm to God’s reputation, to others, or to the offender.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 83.

Whenever you can, practice the good sense of patient overlooking of offenses in others. By so doing you will reflect the glory of the gospel manifest in your life like few other things can.

Are You a Joy?

I thought this was pretty gutsy.

One of my sheep sent this shepherd a post from a counseling website labeled Excellent Evaluation Question.

Drawing from Hebrews 13:17, the counselor sometimes challenges his clients to ask their pastor, and other significant people in their lives for that matter, the risky question, Am I a joy?

The application gets unpacked this way:

This is a fantastic question for you to ask your pastor. And should you ask your pastor this question, then take it further. Ask him to give you specific areas in your life, where you have been a joy to pastor. But don’t stop there. Keep pressing the issue. Also ask him for specific areas in which you need to address or change. Can you imagine if your son came to you and asked you if he was a joy to parent? If so, then you can imagine how any pastor would feel if one of his congregants came and asked a similar question.

Let me press the application a bit further. Ask these questions if they apply:

  • Ask your spouse if you are a joy to them. Why or why not?
  • Ask your small group leader if you are a joy to serve, lead, teach and equip.
  • Ask your children if you are joy to follow. Why or why not?
  • Additionally, a child can ask a parent if they are a joy to parent.

Note the responses you get and share with a close friend. This should give you much to chat about.

Yes, I would rather guess so. Of course he could turn the tables on me with the challenge to ask Am I a joy to follow? Why or why not?

Again, risky stuff, but worth thinking about.