LWAYG: How Do You Resolve Conflict?

We’re almost finished with our series “Conflicted?” which deals with Conflict Resolution God’s way.  Most of what we’ve been talking about has been taken from or adapted from Peacemaker’s Ministries, check out their website for more information.  This past week we looked at the “Four G’s” of peacemaking

1.  Glorify God

  • “—Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will rejoice in the Lord and bring him praise by depending on his forgiveness, wisdom, power, and love, as we seek to faithfully obey his commands and maintain a loving, merciful, and forgiving attitude”
  • “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:3-6)
  • What’s your greatest desire?  Do you desire to Glorify God or avoiding conflict more?  Do you desire Glorifying God more than restoring your friendship?  Obviously, restoring friendships is glorifying to God – but keep these two desires (glorifying God and healing relationships) in the right order, or else you could begin to fake peace.

2. Get the log out of your own eye first

  • “—Instead of blaming others for a conflict or resisting correction we will trust in God’s mercy and take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts – confessing our sins to those we have wronged, asking God to help us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict, and seeking to repair any harm we have caused.”
  • “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.” (Matthew 7:3–5)
  • Admit your share of the guilt FIRST… then address the conflict in order to resolve it (not simply to prove yourself right).

3. Gently restore

  • “—Instead of pretending that conflict doesn’t exist or talking about others behind their backs, we will overlook minor offenses or we will talk personally and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook, seeking to restore them rather than condemn them.  When a conflict with a Christian brother or sister cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ (the Church) to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner.”
  • “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”  (Galatians 6:1–3)
  • Do it the right way… PRIVATELY!  Don’t set the other person up to be the “bad guy.”  Remember the goal: Restored relationships (NOT for you to be “right”).  Don’t make the other person’s burden heavier by arguing with them – help them carry their load…

4. Go be reconciled

  • “—Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation – forgiving others as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgive us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our differences.”
  • “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”  (Matthew 5:23–24)
  • Sometimes people in church talk about forgiveness like it’s easy… but it’s not!  Here’s my test for whether or not I’ve actually forgiven someone (or if I’m trying to fool myself into thinking I’ve forgiven them):  If something good happens to that person, am I sincerely happy for them (and if something bad happens to the person, do I sincerely grieve with them)?

Whom Do You Trust?

This question was recently given to the 7th grade students at the school where my wife is a teacher.  A summary of the essay question they had to answer was this: “If you had to choose, whom do you trust more: your parents, or your friends?  Give an example from your life about a time you chose to seek advice or support from one over the other.”

My wife was surprised and impressed by the overwhelming response favoring “Parents.”  She estimates that out of the 135 students, about 90% of them said that they would choose their parents over their friends if they had to choose.  Most students said that there are definitely times they would talk to their friends about issues they wouldn’t talk to their parents about; but when push comes to shove, they trust their parents more.

As a Youth Pastor, I regularly encourage parents by telling them, “YOU are the most important influence in your son/daughter’s life.”  I’m not sure how many believe me.  Our culture frequently tells us that peers are more influential than parental influence.

It’s also important to realize that parental influence, for some, can be a very negative influence.  If parents are unloving and distant, it can drive that child to act out in destructive ways to get attention or to seek acceptance by the wrong crowd.

Please realize that this does not mean: Good Parents = Good Kid or Bad Kid = Bad Parents.  There’s no scientific formula for parenting and raising healthy and mature children. There are other influences that are powerful, and those should not be ignored or diminished – but the most important of those influences is (and always will be) Parents!

Parents – be encouraged, be involved, be loving.  Ask good questions to your teenagers… and LISTEN to their responses (and listen to what they’re not saying, too).  Discipline your children when they’re young (but be loving and consistent – otherwise they may think your discipline is unmerited).

Pray for your children & Pray with them.  The cliché saying is true: “Families that pray together stay together.”  And families that pray and live out their faith among one another are even stronger still…

Staggering Facts about our World

Here are some statistics I shared with our youth during the 30 Hour Famine this past weekend:
  • Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  • 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world).  640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services.  10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).

For more, check out these websites:

World Vision Hunger Facts

Global Issues: Poverty Facts and Stats

Now that you know… what are you going to do about it…

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

(Matthew 25:34–40)

Love Your Church…

Here’s a common saying about churches: “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it… you’d ruin it.”  The idea is that since there are no perfect people, there are no perfect churches.  We all come with baggage… so do churches… that shouldn’t be a surprise or mystery to anyone.

Pastor John’s sermon on “Community” this past Sunday was really encouraging to me.  I was especially encouraged when he said something along the lines of, “I’m not always easy to love.  But when you love me when I’m unlovable THAT’S when Christian love really means something!  That’s what makes Christian love so beautiful – it loves the unlovable.”

Last night was EBC’s Annual Meeting.  I thought it went pretty well (way too long…) and left it feeling generally encouraged.  But not everyone felt that way.  So here are a few links to some blog posts a friend of me “happened” to post onto his Facebook page and they caught my eye because of their timeliness:

Both of these posts linked to above are short, easy reads.  If you attend church anywhere, you really should read both of these and keep them in mind…

Worship Leader as Preacher?

I think we’ve all been there:  You’re in the dumps spiritually, then a hymn or a worship song comes to mind and you’re spiritually revitalized and encouraged.

I’m a pastor, and I LOVE sermons… I love preaching them, and I love listening to them (most of the time).  I would never “put down” the role and centrality of good, biblical preaching in Christian worship.  But here’s the thing…

…when most of us go to church on Sunday (or whenever else you go), how do you view the music?  I’m not sure we realize that each song we sing is like a mini-sermon, burning its message into our hearts and minds as we sing.  Experts in education tell us that the more people participate and interact with the material, the more likely they are to remember it… I think that’s why when we’re spiritually depressed we think of great songs we’ve sung in church rather than great sermons we’ve heard.

The worship leader in most churches isn’t a pastor, but simply a person (or team of people) who has a musical gift and passion to lead the congregation in worshipping Jesus Christ through singing.  But in his own way… I think the worship leader (regardless of “worship style”) is a type of preacher, preparing the way for the sermon.

How do you view singing in church?  Is it just music… or is it something more?  Something deeper?  Do you get frustrated by the music being too traditional or too contemporary and edgy?  Rather than focusing on what you don’t like about the worship song, focus on the message and the words and sing them to the Lord as an offering of worship.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(Revelation 4:11)

This is one of those songs that frequently preaches to me:

An Ignored Crisis: Teenage Affluenza

If you’re unfamiliar with this tragedy, watch the video below:

I’m not being sarcastic… this is a tragedy.  It’s a tragedy that we take so much for granted while so many go hungry in our world.

Take a look at the tag of the shirt you’re wearing.  Where’s it made?  China, Thailand, Indonesia?  Imagine being a teenager there… and say a prayer for the people in that country.

Pray that you would keep a bigger perspective before when you start to feel Teenage Affluenza rearing its ugly head within you.  Pray that God would show you how you could give more.  Pray that that you would learn to love like Jesus loved…

Only you (and your parents) can guard yourself against Teenage Affluenza.  Be on guard!

A Lesson from Domino’s

One of my favorite Youth Ministry blogs is written by Josh Griffin, the High School Pastor at Saddleback Church.  He wrote a recent post on Domino’s Pizza’s recent overhaul that has made me think about how open to change I am.  You can read his post by clicking this link to his blog: More than Dodgeball (named because youth ministry is “more than dodgeball”).

Here’s the video that sparked Josh’s thoughts:

As a pastor and a Christian, what do I have to learn from Domino’s Pizza taking the huge risk in completely changing how they do business.  Our product (the Christian Gospel) must never change, but how we communicate the Gospel can (and should!).  This is certainly worth thinking about.