Thursday, March 28, 2013

Becoming a Peacemaker: A Work in Progress

An 8 year old boy named William once wrote his pastor a letter. "Dear Pastor, I know God wants us to live in peace with  everyone, but He never met my sister!"

Could you write a letter like that? Do you know any irritating people who "get on your last nerve"? Some people will go to great lengths to prove themselves right. (ouch, could that be me?) Ever tried to be a peacemaker with someone who knows it all?

When the angels announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds, in unison they sang this praise song:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men." The Prince of Peace (Is.9:6) came to earth to teach us how to be peacemakers.

All of us know people, have situations, and deal with things everyday that need us to be peacemakers. Homes are chaotic where there is no peace. Marriage is stressful where there is no peace between husband and wife. The workplace can be a "downright mean place to be" when there is no one to step into the situation and be the peacemaker. And oh my word, what does a church family look like when the peacemakers don't do the peacemaking?

There are times when I don't want to be the peacemaker, times when I want to be the one with the hurt feelings, and times when I just plain ole want to be mad. But I'm not given that luxury by my Prince of Peace. Because you see, He has called you and He has called me to be the peaceful one in our marriage, in our home, in our church, and in our workplace. He has called you and me to be His peace to those who know no peace. And when I refuse to be a peacemaker, I miss out on the blessing of influencing those around me and being known as "being called a child of God." (Matt. 5:9) A wise teacher told me many, many years ago that the more mature Christian in a relationship will be the one to apologize first and seek peace.

Is your relationship with your husband worth an "I'm sorry"? When you have those "confrontations" with your teenager, you find out you were wrong, and you say, "I'm sorry", that throws cold water on a very heated situation. Even a 4 year will benefit from a Mom who isn't afraid to admit she was wrong, or that she lost her cool, or she overreacted.

We live in a very volatile world where tempers threaten to explode over the least little offense. Couples divorce, children rebel, churches split, people loose their jobs because no one steps up to be the peacemaker. In order to live in peace with those we love and those we simply have to "endure", we have to recognize first and foremost that "God is the author of peace." (1 Cor.14:33) I am to be a peacemaker simply because God wrote the word, He made the plan. I am to make it my mission in life to "live in peace", and when I do, I have this promise from God: "and the God of love and peace will be with me." (2 Cor. 13:11)

All of this sounds so noble and sweet and we all agree that being a peacemaker can change any situation. But how do I do that when I've been the one wronged, when I've been the one hurt?
Here are 6 things that help me choose peace over chaos;
1. Use kind, soft words. (Prov. 15:1) Kind words plus a smile are a peaceful combination.
2. My tone of voice can easily start an argument, or settle it.
3. Listen to the other person, don't interrupt, don't become defensive.
4. Be humble. Yes, I know it is hard when you know you are right, but humility goes a long way in defusing a heated conversation. God will resist my pride (work against me in the situation), but when I humble myself before Him, He gives me "more grace"; more than enough of His endless grace to be the peacemaker. (1 Peter 5:5)
5. Don't assume the worse. Have you done this, I have; make up my own version of the situation in my head and find out I could not have been farther from the truth. Peacemakers wait until all the facts are in.
6. Be ready to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness. Impossible to be a peacemaker without a forgiving heart.
(and the humility to ask for forgiveness.)

Being a peacemaker is a continuing "work in progress." As long as we live in the flesh, we will have to work to bring peace to our own lives and to our famililes, but we can do it! Our Prince of Peace has already paved the way.

And may I add just one more, very important thing? It is the work of the Holy Spirit to produce peace in me, because you see, peace is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22,23) And it is only as He produces that precious fruit in my life, that I can be the peace in someone else's life.

Holy Spirit, I am depending upon You to develop the fruit of peace in my life, that I might be a peacemaker.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Identified by Words

Great people talk about ideas.
Average people talk about things.
Small people talk about people.

These words are posted on my desk. I do not know the author, and if you do, please tell me so that I can give credit where credit is due. But I keep it within view because I want to be reminded that my words identify the person I am.

Words are easy for me; I enjoy talking, I love to write, I love to read. My mother often told me that I talked long before the age of 2, and I am seldom short of words. Talking is how we communicate our feelings, our thoughts, and even our opinions. And while talking is and of itself a very good thing, it becomes a not so good thing when our words tear down instead of build up. It happens in our homes, in how we speak to and about our husband, especially in front of our children, in how we speak to our children, and it can even happen in how we speak and talk about ourselves, to ourselvses. I would never allow someone else to speak to me, the way I sometimes speak to me. Nor would I stand silently by while someone talked about me in such a negative way that I can sometimes talk about me, to me.

So come on! Let's stop it! Let's refuse to allow our enemy to deceive us into thinking, and saying things about ourselves that are not true, that cause us to live in defeat, that destroy our self-esteem.

2 Corinthians 10: 3:3 tells us that we may have to live in this flesh for a while longer, but we do not have to fight in the flesh. God has given us "mighty weapons" so we can "pull down those strongholds" of wrong thinking and take those thoughts "captive to the obedience of Christ."

Your choice of words can change an argument with your husband, to an in-depth conversation that really accomplishes something good. Your choice of words with your child can turn a "shouting match" into a calm exchange of thoughts and ideas that builds trust and deepens your relationship. And the words you speak to, and about yourself can make the difference in a woman who lives in victory, or one who lives in defeat.

Got your Bible close by? Look in Ephesians 1, verses 3-7 at the 7 things God declares over you. Please hi-lite each one and when things go wrong, and you are tempted to blame yourself for everything from the broken icemaker to world peace, take those thoughts "captive" and break that "stronghold" by repeating words that God uses to describe how He sees you.


Your are:
1. Blessed.
2. Chosen. (Amen, He chose me!!)
3. Holy. (Yes, He sees me "Holy and without blame before Him, in love")
4. Adopted.
5. Accepted. I may not feel accepted by everyone, but praise God, I am accepted by Him.
6. Redeemed. "He bought me back" from sin, and I can never be "un-redeemed" (my computer is telling me that isn't a word, but for today it is) again, EVER.
7. Forgiven. Nothing more needs to be said about that!! That one word says it all.

No matter what we may say about ourselves, God only speaks healing words, loving words, positive and uplifting words over us; blessed, chosen, holy, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven. If you look closely at each word you will see that those 7 words take in every area of a woman's life. Those are the words that identify the woman I am. And if you are a believer, they identify you, too. Think good thoughts
(and words) today ladies.