The Peacemakers

Did you ever notice it takes months of detailed planning and diligent building to erect a magnificent edifice, but only days or weeks to raze it to mere memories? Over seasons of integrity and years of faithfulness is our trust in another established; sudden is its betrayal, however, and we behold its ruins through blurry eyes of bitter tears. We hard-earn honor over lifetime of prudent decisions, only to damage our reputation with an unconstrained word or a me-first choice. So it is, also, with dissension and peace: “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”1 There are few ways as impactful to “making a difference” than to defuse conflict and foster peace in our small space in the world. Here, then, are some peacemaking observations from throughout the years. Feel free to add your own at the end of this post.

Listen. We often talk when the solution lies in listening. As Job in his agony implored of his friends, “Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say.”2

Look beneath symptoms. Too, we often stop at the symptom of conflict but neglect to dig to its roots. “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” queried James, “Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”3 We do well to stop an honest moment and think.

Stay on point. For a variety of reasons, it is very difficult for some people to accept or admit their own shortcomings, so they marginalize their offenses by pointing to the offenses of another. This gets us nowhere in terms of conflict resolution, so I’ve learned to remain focused by acknowledging impertinent issues, then setting them aside for later conversation.

Find shared values. I think people’s common ground is much larger than their battle ground. Most, for instance, value faithfulness, justice, goodness, honor and mercy. To the extent conflicting parties identify common ground, their differences become more clearly defined, seemingly smaller, and easier to address.

Move beyond detente. Personally, I think detente—the mere absence of conflict—is only slightly better than conflict itself. True resolution settles for nothing short of unity. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”4

Know when to stay clear. “Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own,” advised Solomon.5 I can’t quarrel with that.

Father, give me an honest heart to confess my sin and turn from it. Give me a discerning heart to know when to be—and when not to be—involved in conflict. Give me a wise heart to know how to help calm a quarrel. Give me a patient heart, because peace takes time. Amen.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Christ in me is peace.

1 Proverbs 15:18
2 Job 13:17
3 James 4:1
4 Psalm 133:1
5 Proverbs 26:17


Our Daily Balance

“Oh, how I love your law! I mediate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97)

A testimony. Throughout the course of my career, fifty to sixty-hour weeks in the office were common, and there was no shortage of seasons when seventy, eighty or more hours were necessary to accomplish all that lay before me. As a rule, I did not begrudge these times, for work was enjoyable, proving Solomon’s words true: “That each of them may … find satisfaction in their toil—this is the gift of God.”1 All of my remaining time was zealously guarded and joyfully given to my wife and son.

It was Christmastime one year when I decided to begin keeping a Bible journal: Every morning, I would read a Scripture passage and then write down whatever thoughts came to mind, whatever inspirations stirred my soul and any words of prayer returned in response. So incredibly rich was this time that fifteen morning minutes with God morphed into thirty, forty-five, sixty and sometimes more. I was overjoyed by all I was learning, and amazed to find this—though my workdays shortened in proportion to these moments of meditation, they also became more productive. Moreover, a broadening perspective, a deepening trust and an uplifting calm enriched my vocational experience, all the result of newfound balance and the power of God’s word.

How appropriate that Israel’s king of renowned wisdom, while extolling work-satisfaction as a gift from God, would also caution us against the extremes of toil. “It is in vain,” wrote Solomon, “that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”2 Both enjoying what we do and resting from it are gifts from God. To open one divine present and not the other leaves us incomplete, dissatisfied and exhausted. We were designed to create through discovery, construction and collaboration, yet we were also called to rest from our labor in the presence of God and to proactively love the precious people who journey this life with us. Such is the nature of the eternal God of creation whose image we bear—the God who rests, the One who loves us with an everlasting love.

Stepping by faith into work-life balance, we lose nothing and gain everything.

Father, your wisdom is beyond my understanding and your love knows no boundaries. Draw me into your presence—through prayer and your word—for there you provide strength and there I find rest. Amen.

Christ in me is peace.

1 Ecclesiastes 3:13
2 Psalm 127:2 (ESV)


All of You

“Prost!” we cheered, hoisting our mugs that Oktoberfest evening in Munich. It was the German version of its counterpart toasts around the world—“Cheers!” “Salute!” “Santé!” With that we clunked our mugs in unison (real mugs don’t clink), binding us together for a fun time of pretzels, hops, people and song.

In a far different place and time, gathering friends also lifted a cup. “Drink from it, all of you,” Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”1 He spoke of a true and lasting oneness, the universal bond of all who would rest their soul in Him. Still today, we celebrate “communion,” a gathering together of believers to participate in Him who unites us to Himself. But does Jesus’ church really worship as one, or have we let worldly disputes separate “all of you” into smaller subsets of “some of us”? It’s a rhetorical question; I think we know the answer. And gathering as a people divided is to commune “in an unworthy manner,” warns Paul; to do so is “sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”2 Peace is paramount to God.

So, what do we do? Certainly finger-pointing, hand-wringing and towel-throwing get us nowhere. I think a friend of mine, Michael Young, has an answer. Senior pastor of a largely African-American congregation, Michael convenes open town-hall meetings at his church, inviting community leaders with different vantage points—clergy, police, elected officials, business people—to share their thoughts and to listen to the collective hearts and voices of all gathered there. The purpose is not to assert one opinion over others, but to meet deeper needs: of hearing and being heard, of understanding and being understood, of airing perceptions and addressing misperceptions, of looking up from that which divides us and embracing the aspirations we all share in common—the desires of the soul only the Son of God can meet.

Oneness takes work. It calls us to humility, wisdom, perseverance and faith, for “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … powers of this dark world and … spiritual forces of evil.”3 My friend has chosen to look up to Christ who unites us and stand with Him against the enemy who wishes only to divide and destroy us. His resolve silently begs the question of us, “What about all of you?

Father, I’m far too willing to be one with you but divided from my neighbor. Give me the humility, patience and desire to unite with my brothers and sisters in Christ against any enemy who would separate us. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Christ in me is peace.

Read today’s Scripture in Matthew 26:26-30.

1 Matthew 26:27, 28
2 1 Corinthians 11:18, 27
3 Ephesians 6:12