Tag: peace (page 1 of 4)

One of the Hardest Verses in the Bible, and Why it’s Important

Yesterday a friend of mine asked me what the Bible says to do when someone has “royally screwed you” (ok, his words were stronger, but you get the idea). He said he already has his lawyers in contact with the offender. It made me think of this post from several years ago…

John said, “I think you need to do a Matthew 18:15.”

No, no, NO!  Anything but that!  Not that Uncomfortable Thing.  Not that Truth-Telling thing.  Not admitting that someone has the power to actually ding me.

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.” Mt. 18:15, 16 MSG

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Those are some of the sentences I’d like to cut out of my Bible.

Ugh.  And double-ugh.

I really like it that I grew up in a family that was super nice and basically devoid of conflict.  Ok, maybe we stuffed a little, but still… We were nice dang it!

John’s comment came after I had read an email that was the last in a line of correspondence that left me feeling hurt, ticked and frankly baffled.

My natural response was withdraw. And vent.

But I preferred to frame it as “shaking the dust off my shoes” and moving on.

Who likes confrontation?  Maybe Simon Cowell or Nancy Grace or Rush Limbaugh.   But not me or you.  We’re not pot-stirrers for Pete’s sake!

Why do most of us hate this sticky business of coming clean with one another?  Naming the offense?

  • It allows us to hold onto our self-righteousness without the hard work of understaning another point of view.
  • If promotes an illusion of safety.  Having a face to face conversation feels risky.  What if I get hurt more?  What if (gasp) I’m wrong?
  • It projects an image of submission and nicety.  We don’t want the label of being high maintenance or overly sensitive.

Not everything is a Matthew 18:15 issue.

Proverbs 19:11 says “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”  There are those dings we cover with grace like a bandaid.  They heal and we move on.

But then there are those wounds that require us to examine our own heart and, with humility, bring the situation to the attention of another.

love the idea of Romans 12:18.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

But living at peace doesn’t mean denial, or stuffing or withdrawal, all of which would be preferable in my book to, you know…actually talking about it.

So why is this so important?

wrote the other day about a group of us trying memorizing Matthew 5-7 – Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.   Here’s the thing…Our goal isn’t just get through the Sermon on the Mount.  We want to get the Sermon on the Mount through us!

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus puts a high value on everything involved with this process of conflict resolution – bringing things to light instead of hiding them in the darkness, unity rather than division, understanding and compassion rather than pride.

Several of my partners in this project are friends who are traveling in the Middle East right now, pursuing peace and understanding on a global level.  But if we can’t get it right in our own lives we can’t get it right half-way around the world, right?

So, as uncomfortable as it is, I’m going to set up a time to sit down across from my friend, question for better understanding, and have the hard conversation.

What’s been your experience with this Matthew 18:15 stuff?

3 Questions For Tense Days in America

It’s been an unsettling couple weeks, hasn’t it? Kind of like someone shook up our snow globe of life and we’re trying to figure out where things are going to settle.

Sunday morning husband John and I arrived home from a trip in time to overlap briefly with our daughter and son-in-law who were in town for a wedding. We went to brunch before taking them back to the airport, talking non-stop, trying to squeeze 24 hours into our 5 hours together.

We talked a lot about the sad state of our country and the mandate we feel to do what we can to stand up for those who are being persecuted, but the tone of our conversation left me a bit troubled. Our talk was marked more by righteous indignation, anger and judgment than anything else. We shared outrageous tweets and news stories we had seen.

Later, I was reading in Acts 6 where the disciples are choosing men for special work. They look for “people whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense…”

One they choose is Stephen who is described as “full of faith and the Holy Spirit…”

Later, in verse 8 it says, “Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.”

So, here’s the uncomfortable part. Would anyone listening to our conversation Sunday have identified me as “full of the Holy Spirit”? “Brimming with God’s grace and energy”? Not so much.

I’d be golden if a fruit of the Spirit was anger or frustration or criticism!

Yes, we need to speak truth. We need to rail against injustice. But bringing the kingdom of God will not happen if we are sucked into a vortex of CNN and Twitter madness that just fuels our anger.

To make a difference we need to be different.

We need to use different language, words marked by the grace and wisdom of Jesus.

We need to have a different spirit –  the Spirit of Jesus.

If we are to be the non-anxious presence, we need to be rooted and grounded first in Jesus.

So, 3 questions I’ve been asking myself:

  1. Am I taking time to be still, to breathe deep, to pray up, to fill up with the words of Jesus? Or am I turning first to news outlets?
  2. If someone overheard my conversation today would they note anything of Jesus in it? Anything different from the world? Am I listening with respect to the other?
  3. What does love require of me? 

“Wage peace.

Conspire justice.

Plot goodness.

Devise forgiveness.

Scheme mercy

Incite reconciliation.

Foment inclusion.

Practice resurrection.” Nathan Hamm

 

The Fields Preached Me a Sermon

In the predawn dark I see twinkle lights have dressed the trees on the square outside my Starbucks, but the fountain will be on for a few more days.

We’ve had a frost, but half the leaves are still holding on for dear life, like a climber dangling from a rocky cliff precipice, desperately clinging. They share one final gasp of color – a last hurrah.

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It’s that in-between time when change is coming and it may seem dark and ominous like that spooky abandoned house, or maybe to you it’s an invitation to comfy hibernation – a soft place by the fire while the wind howls in the dark outside.

Creation is my spiritual pathway. I love seeing more of God and myself through His hand in nature. When I walk I love to ask, “Lord, what do you have to show me about yourself and myself today?”

The other day this line struck me from my morning reading

The fields preached me a sermon. Proverbs 24:33 MSG

Isn’t that great?

One of the things I love about waking early in the morning is that when I walk to Starbucks, the stars are still bright and are such a powerful reminder that I did NOTHING to put them there, or keep them there, or guard them through the nighttime hours. They were there yesterday, and will be there tomorrow. Because God.

I breathe deeply and relax in His sovereignty. I am not the boss of the stars, or the leaves, the fields or the streams. They will keep growing, waking, sleeping, flowing. Because God.

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William Bebe was a friend of Teddy Roosevelt’s. He said the two of them would go out on the lawn at night and search the skies for a certain spot of star-like light near the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus.

Roosevelt would say: “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.” Then Roosevelt would grin and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.”

Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26

When our eyes look up, our anxiety goes down.

What sermon do the fields, or the stars, have to preach us today?

The Secret I Learned From a Farmer in the Middle East

I’m still in Israel and Palestine as I write this…

where there are modern dividing walls, and an ancient wailing wall, biblical ruins,  refugee camps, olive trees, and ubiquitous tour buses, with sheep and shepherds liberally sprinkled throughout the countryside.

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It’s a place where it’s easy to see why David described God as his Shepherd.

The 23rd Psalm might be the most famous go-to Psalm, but I’m wondering how many people really experience verse 5“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies”.

That’s the line that keeps running through my head as we meet with Daoud Nassar at his farm on a hill outside Bethlehem that is ringed by Israeli settlements.

He is a Palestinian Christian who says “We refuse to be enemies” Continue reading

Lessons from Hurting People

Who’s that person or group of people who hurt you deeply?  What are those words you can’t forget? That betrayal? The rejection, dismissal, even persecution you’ve endured that left a wound?

Maybe it was long, long ago. Or yesterday.

After time, you may even be able to insulate yourself and forget it for an hour, or a day, or even a week.

But then someone says something. Or does something. Or you see something out of the corner of your eye.

That wounded place gets bumped and it hurts, and you realize you need to forgive again. And again.

Because hurting people hurt people. Continue reading

For Days When you Feel Anxious, Scared, or Overwhelmed, Part 1

The winter stretches out before us here in Minnesota – long, gray, and frozen.

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The other day I stopped by to visit a young friend who’s in a dark time, a very wintery time.

She feels overwhelmed, and anxious, “not enough”, and scared.

Everything feels so hard and she’s tempted to look at all the sparkly, easy-breezy lives on Facebook and despair that she alone is struggling to adapt to a new season.

I know this feeling. I’ve been there.

It’s in these vulnerable times that I picture Satan chuckling with glee.

What are some of the lies the Enemy wants us to believe when life’s hard? Continue reading

How Three Questions and an Olive Harvest Can Lead to Peace

Olive branch: something that is said or done to make peace or to show that you want peace : a symbol of peace.

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It was three years ago this fall that I had the incredible experience of participating in an olive harvest in Palestine, alongside women who have been doing this for years.

We are clumsy; they are sure-footed as we climb high up into the branches of hundred year old trees.

We watch these strong, brave women show us how to strip the branches, causing the olives to fall onto tarps below where their children clean off stray leaves and twigs, collecting them into baskets.

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We use sign language and simple words to ask questions.

They share their lunch with us – chicken cooked long and slow in a hole dug in the earth while the sound of olives plopping on tarps on the ground fills the morning air.

We dance with them and sing around the leftover scraps and chicken bones, resting under the shade of the olive trees.

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They take us on a walk to show us land that has been taken from them over the years, shrinking their livelihood.

They are Muslims. We are Christians. They are Palestinians. We, Americans. They live oppressed. We enjoy freedom and abundance.

But we are all mothers, daughters, sisters, wives. All with hopes and dreams and fears for our families.

I’ve been thinking again lately about olives, olive trees, and olive branches of peace that are so desperately needed in a season of violence and mistrust. Continue reading

You’re One Breath Away From a Peace-filled Advent

This is a post I edit and reprint every year because I need it. Hope it’s helpful to you too.

really wish I liked Yoga more. It’s healthy.  And it’s so in.  But I’m not crazy about it.

Here are the only things I like about Yoga:

  • the comfy pants that are like legal pajamas,
  • the fact that you do it in a group with great people, and not, for example on a stationary bike in your basement (like a crazy introvert),
  • the corpse pose (where you lay still with soft music playing)…

And one more thing…

They remind you to breathe.  In fact, I think that’s the only part I consistently get right when I go.  I mess up all the poses.  And I can’t make myself pretzely like my friend Brooke.

But then they say, “Don’t forget to breathe.” and I think “Yes!  I’ve got that down!  Score!” (Can you tell I’m better at competitive sports than contemplative ones?)

Sometimes the best I can do at Yoga is to just keep breathing.  Sometimes in the Christmas season it seems that way also.  You too?

Our to-to lists are too long.  We drop balls and forget to follow through with details.  And our regular spiritual practices and rhythm of time with Jesus may suffer.

But no matter what happens in the next few weeks, most (hopefully all) of us will still be breathing when we get to the New Year.

So what if breathing became a spiritual practice?  It’s one many of you are probably familiar with.  Breath prayer. Continue reading

Preparing to Prepare for Jesus

So I thought I was doing so much better with the jet-lag thing this time around, but maybe not. This morning I was awake at 4:00, up at 4:30 and out the door at 5:00. Problem is my Starbucks doesn’t open til 5:30. So I walked the long way, through the dark silent streets of my neighborhood, most folks still snuggled in their warm beds, dreaming of sugar plums or something.

It was cold and crisp and as my breath showed up in white wisps, it gave me a chance to pray and to reflect on the upcoming Advent season.

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The silence and peace of the early morning was such a contrast to the noise, and hurry that can dominate this season when we long for the “heavenly peace” of Silent Night –  to be preparing for Jesus.

It got me to thinking…What do you want for Advent this year? What do you love about Advent? What are your hopes? How do you make choices instead of allowing the world to squeeze you into its mold?  I wrote last week about having a plan.

So, two questions that lead to choices around Advent: Continue reading

Soul Food When Everyone is Welcome

When I started doing “Soul Food Friday” I didn’t intend for it to just be focused on what happens around the table, but instead about everything that feeds our souls.

But truly, something very special happens when we show up as we are, and amidst half eaten chili or chicken we celebrate or cry or question.

We gather around a table, and when it’s good it’s messy, and real, and a little island of safety where our stories can be shared and God’s faithfulness recognized.

Everyone is welcome. Nobody’s perfect. Anything can happen.

So, this week…. Continue reading

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