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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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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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Backstage Interview: Matt Chandler with Catalyst’s Brad Lomenick

Here’s your chance to hear a backstage interview with Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church and author of The Explicit Gospel, along with Brad Lomenick, director of Catalyst. Topics range from Chandler’s brain cancer diagnosis to what he thinks about the “celebrity culture” phenomenon.

Listen to the whole thing here or jump ahead by using the timestamps below:

06:50 — Intro: Who is Matt Chandler?
07:58 — Beginning of interview
09:30 — Update on Chandler’s brain cancer
13:22 — Chandler shares how he is living out the theme of Catalyst Dallas: “Be Present”
16:13 — Lomenick and Chandler discuss Chandler’s first book, The Explicit Gospel
21:42 — What is the one characteristic of you as a leader that you would say defines you?
25:18 — What are your thoughts on the “celebrity culture” conversation? What would you say to young men preparing for ministry who think this is normative?
28:46 — Catalyst is seeking to be bridge builders—to be about collaboration, partnership, and working together. How do you live that out? What does that feel like and look like?
32:07 — Conclusion

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Caution: The Dangers of Reading “Charity and Its Fruits”

Do you like reading classics?

If so, you’ll be happy to know that Charity and Its Fruits by Jonathan Edwards is now available for the first time ever in one unabridged volume. Editor Kyle Strobel has also provided introductions, definitions, and notes to make it a bit more accessible for modern readers.

John Piper writes enthusiastically about this volume:

“I am thrilled that Kyle Strobel has edited this new edition of Edwards’s Charity and Its Fruits. This series of sermons holds a special place in my affections for Edwards for three reasons. First, in Munich, Germany, my wife and I read it aloud to each other in 1972. What a way to build a young marriage! Second, Edwards’s treatment of ‘Charity seeketh not her own’ profoundly shaped my emerging Christian Hedonism. Third, the last chapter, ‘Heaven Is a World of Love,’ is simply unsurpassed in its power to make me want to go there. I am unabashed in my love for Jonathan Edwards—and the grandeur of his God. May God give him an ever-wider voice.”

Caution.

Strobel warns readers of two very real dangers in reading Charity and Its Fruits.

  1. The temptation to read this book simply because it should be read. Maybe this book appears on your must read list or on your books you are embarrassed to admit you have not read list. You read, then, not out of a desire to know God more, but out of a desire to have conquered the “right” books. This is a temptation of self-aggrandizement, to be “in the know” in all the respectable ways. It is born, typically, out of a desire to be seen in a certain light, to be lauded for historical, theological, and spiritual depth. When reading with this set of lenses, one’s mind gathers interesting tidbits of information, but often fails to hear a truly prophetic call against one’s own life, heart, or beliefs. Someone not open to this kind of prophetic call will relegate it to the backseat or jettison it completely. Vice itself gets puffed up by the very exercise that should help deflate it.
  2. Instead of reading to judge your own heart, you might read all too readily to bring judgment on others. As a subconscious attempt at self-protection, pride often asserts itself by pointing out the failures of others rather than facing the reality of one’s own sin. Pastors, particularly, may struggle with this temptation, thinking of congregants or the church at large, rather than themselves as they read material that may hit uncomfortably close to home. This temptation arises from a broader vice, which is a failure to know oneself truly. As will be seen throughout Charity and Its Fruits, knowing your own heart is tied together with knowing God and grasping the reality of the Christian life. Those who do not know themselves may balk at Edwards’s detailed depictions of pride, envy, selfishness, anger, and the like, failing to recognize how these very vices blind them to their own hearts.

So how should you read Charity and Its Fruits?:

I suggest reading this volume in a truly devotional manner. It would be much more fruitful to ponder the text prayerfully than to rush through it. Edwards will, without question, cause you to shift uncomfortably in your chair. Rather than moving on to escape your discomfort, turn to prayer. The matters Edwards explores are, I suggest, the very areas God may want to expose in you. Allow Edwards to reveal the reality of your heart, but don’t stop with self-knowledge alone. Use these opportunities to rest in the grace of God and avail yourself of the power of his love alone to remedy the death that resides within you.

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July 3, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church History,Life & Doctrine,Loving Others,Sanctification,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »