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Archive for July, 2012

Conflict: Recognize, Repent, Refocus, Replace

This is the last post in our series on conflict with Robert Jones, author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling our Conflicts. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here: 3 Ways We Must Handle Conflict and Conflict: When Desires Become Demands

1. Recognize the Ascending Desire

The first step is to recognize which specific desire tends to ascend to your throne, become a demand, and control you—and to catch it when it starts this ascent. Our goal is to become increasingly “heart smart”—to seize the first occasion of a rising desire and to call it what it is. The three tests mentioned previously may help you: (1) Does it consume my thoughts? (2) Do I sin to get it? (3) Do I sin when I don’t get it?

2. Repent of Letting the Desire Rule

As we have seen in various passages above, repentance is the frequent call from the Lord to those who struggle with sins in the heart. Here we must be keenly specific: For what do we repent? For our desires? No, the desires are not the problem. In fact, having desires is good—they remind us to pray, to submit ourselves to God, to seek godly directions, and so forth. We must not try to deaden, neuter, or deny our legitimate desires. Instead, we must repent not of the desire but of the “rulingness” of the desire, that is, the way it has begun to ascend the throne and become a demand. The desire itself is not the evil in view; it is the propensity for it to climb and take over that we must resist.

Whenever we consider repentance, we must keep one vital truth uppermost in our thinking. God always calls for repentance in response to grace already given.

3. Refocus on God and His Grace, Provisions, and Promises

Third, we should refocus our hearts by resubmitting our desires under the throne of Jesus’s lordship and fastening our eyes on God’s presence and promises in our life. This includes a recommitment to please, adore, trust, and obey him. In a short, condensed insertion, James 4:6 puts it this way: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

4. Replace Sinful Responses with Christlike Graces

The final step is continual and ongoing. God calls us in progressive ways to replace the previously ascending but now resubmitted desires with fresh, ongoing replacements: relational graces (we’ll consider Eph. 4:1–3 and Col. 3:12–14 in chap. 7), good works (Eph. 2:10; Titus 3:14), and Spirit-generated fruit (Gal. 5:22–23; Col. 1:9–12). While the specifics must be tailored to each individual, they often include learning contentment, self-control, prayer, biblical peacemaking, forgiveness, godly listening, godly speaking, and the ninefold fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Robert Jones serves as a biblical counseling professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a certified biblical counselor, a Christian conciliator, an adjunct instructor, and a church reconciliation trainer with Peacemaker Ministries. Jones is the author of Pursuing PeaceUprooting Anger, and has written numerous ministry booklets and articles.

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Conflict: When Desires Become Demands

Conflict in this world is inevitable. The question is, how will we handle it?

We’re glad you’ve joined us for Part 2 in a series on conflict with Robert Jones, author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts. Yesterday we started with Part 1, 3 Ways We Must Handle Conflict.

One major cause for conflict is when a desire for a good thing becomes a James 4:1-3 type of demand.

3 tests to help you detect conflict-causing demands:

  1. Does it consume my thoughts? Do I obsess about it? Does my mind drift to it when I don’t have to think about other things (like when I am showering)?
  2. Do I sin to get it? Do I manipulate people or situations to get what I want? Do I bargain or nag or guilt trip?
  3. Do I sin when I don’t get it? Do I pout or explode or pull away or gossip about someone when he or she doesn’t give me my desired thing?

While my initial desire might be legitimate, it becomes sinful when it grows into a demand. And when it becomes a demand and you don’t meet it—and of course you can never meet every demand of my selfish heart—I then judge you in my heart and condemn you. In the final step, my internal judgment produces some outward expression of punishment toward you. I might yell at you, speak sarcastically about you, gossip about you, or avoid you.

4 Statements to help you unearth conflict-causing demands:

  • “You must give me ____  or I’ll be angry at you or cold toward you or . . .”
  • “If only ____ would change, I would be satisfied or content.”
  • “If I don’t get ____, then I become depressed, angry, or anxious.”
  • “What I think I need or I desperately want is ____.”

Left unchecked, any desire has the potential to overthrow and remove Jesus. The desires of my flesh versus Spirit civil war (Gal. 5:16–26; 1 Pet. 2:11–12) continually plots a coup d’état against King Jesus as my rightful Lord. Apart from grace the remnant sin in my heart would overthrow my enthroned King.

How does God want us to handle our desires that grow into demands? A simple alliterated outline provides a plan: Recognize, Repent, Refocus, and Replace.

Join us tomorrow to see what Dr. Jones has to say about this plan.

Robert Jones serves as a biblical counseling professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a certified biblical counselor, a Christian conciliator, an adjunct instructor, and a church reconciliation trainer with Peacemaker Ministries. Jones is the author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts and has written numerous ministry booklets and articles.

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3 Ways We Must Handle Conflict

by Robert D. Jones, author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts

Conflict in this world is inevitable. The question is, how will we handle it?

  1. God calls us to resolve our conflicts actively, not assuming they will resolve themselves.
  2. We must deal with conflict diligently, making concentrated, strenuous efforts to reconcile our relationships.
  3. And we must deal with it immediately, not delaying, postponing, or procrastinating.

Our Lord Jesus sets this active-diligent-immediate agenda with two complementary commands.

1. Matthew 5:23-25:

“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. Settle matters quickly with your adversary.”

The aggressiveness of this agenda underscores Jesus’s priorities about peacemaking.

2. Matthew 18:15-16

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

These passages, viewed together, form a powerful dynamic—what I call the “Matthew 5 and 18 Dynamic”: When we have offended someone, we should go (Matt. 5:23–26); when someone has offended us, we also should go (Matt. 18:15–16). In either case, Jesus calls us to take the first step toward pursuing peace with others.

Christ’s apostles echoed the same need for active-diligent-immediate effort:

  • “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16).
  • “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).
  • “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19).
  • “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
  • “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
  • “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

The cumulative effect of these half-dozen verses leaves no room for complacency or passivity. Instead, they constrain sincere Christians to cry out for the Holy Spirit’s help in this formidable task.

These passages also mean, contrary to popular myth, that time does not heal all wounds. Conflicts will not mend themselves. People do not “get over” insults and injuries. Instead, unresolved conflicts scab over. They go underground, surfacing later, and sometimes with greater fury, animosity, or coldness. That’s why relational reconciliation requires hard work. The above verses call us to “pursue” peace—to go after it, track it down, and hunt for it. Peacemaking is not easy or optional.

Stay tuned for part 2 and part 3 in this series.

Robert Jones serves as a biblical counseling professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a certified biblical counselor, a Christian conciliator, an adjunct instructor, and a church reconciliation trainer with Peacemaker Ministries. Jones is the author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts and has written numerous ministry booklets and articles.

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Video: Disability and the Gospel

“Why do we in the evangelical church in the West demand that everyone be “normal” and look the same? Why do we as a culture try so hard (and succeed so well!) at hiding people with disabilities from our everyday view? Why do people with visible and invisible brokenness feel as though they have to hide the problem in order to join God’s people for worship?”
— Michael S. Beates, Disability and the Gospel: How God Uses Our Brokenness to Display His Grace

Want to learn more? Read this excerpt of Disability and the Gospel, including the foreword written by Joni Eareckson Tada.

If this topic resonates with you, we’d also like to draw your attention to The Works of God: God’s Good Design in Disability, an upcoming conference hosted by our friends at Desiring God. The event is November 8th. Speakers include Nancy Guthrie, Greg Lucas, Mark Talbot, and John Piper.

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July 23, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News,Video | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 10:19 am | 1 Comment »

Grace for the Mommy Wars and Law of Parenting

Parenting has become a contentious subject. In the “mommy wars,” blogs, books, and one-on-one conversations set women against each other over the best ways to raise children. Both sides are left feeling guilty and defensive. Should I go easy on my child or be a “tiger mother”? Which of the Christian parenting manuals should I follow?

The different theories tend to reduce parenting to following rules. Just as fallen human beings cannot fully satisfy God’s law, parents find they cannot fully satisfy whatever law of child raising they embrace. So much time and effort is spent micromanaging and second-guessing parenthood—our own and that of others—that we may give little thought to what God is doing in parenthood.

It’s tempting for parents to be self-conscious about how they are raising their children.

It’s easy to become self-critical, whether or not that’s justified. But isn’t it ironic that so many of us overemphasize where we could go wrong with our children while also under-emphasizing where God can go right? With the varied library of parenting material these days, we can forget a very simple fact: with or without parents, children grow up. Children raised under different parenting philosophies grow up, and most of them do fine. God is the one who ultimately grants them growth and opportunities for life. And while God has made young children dependent upon their parents, from the first month of life children are already peering away from their parents and toward the rest of the world. The doctrine of vocation allows parents to relax, somewhat, confident that God is the main actor in child raising.

Our children are in the hands of a gracious God.

So while it is good, right, and healthy for us as parents to try our best and be as prepared as possible for the sake of our children, we can give thanks every day that our children are in the hands of our gracious God. The same God who knit our children together in their mother’s womb now remains active in their lives for all their days. As Scripture says, “In [God’s] book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for [them]” (Ps. 139:16).

Content adapted from Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Gene Edward Veith Jr. and Mary J. Moerbe

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July 18, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Children / Parenting,Life / Doctrine,Marriage / Family | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 9:25 am | 0 Comments »