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God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children! Matthew 5:9 (CEV)

It was a stupid thing to say and just plain wrong. It was one of those situations where you wish you could just grab the word bubble and pull it back into your mouth and pretend it never happened. Of course, it didn’t work that way. In my stupid attempt to be funny I offended a dear friend. She stormed away, hurt, humiliated and angry…for good reason, I might add.

A mutual friend came to me a few days later and told me she’d talked to him about the things I’d said to Mindy (not her real name). It was slightly embellished, but for the most part accurate. I was embarrassed and ashamed. The situation wasn’t made any easier by the fact that we were mutual friends and were together often in social situations. Mindy would see me and move to an opposite side of the room. I tried on a few occasions to apologize, but she had nothing to do with it.

There’s an old saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. Mindy and my situation was living proof of that adage. I was wrong for what I said. Her refusal to listen to my apology or forgive me wasn’t appropriate either. It was just as stupid and immature as the words I spoke to start the whole situation.

After several weeks, our mutual friend approached me. He’d been watching from the sidelines and had frankly seen enough. “Something has to be done to resolve this”, he told me one day as we met for coffee. I agreed and shared how I’d tried on several occasions to reconcile, but to no avail.

Dan, our mutual friend, decided that if reconciliation was going to happen it would have to be done with a mediator. He approached Mindy and she seemed more than willing for the three of us to meet together. We met at our church in a conference room. Dan read from Matthew on the importance of forgiving a brother when he sins. Then it was my turn. I told Mindy (again) how sorry I was for my words, that they were stupid and just plain un-Christian. I asked her (again) to forgive me. To my surprise she did! We talked. We hugged. Our friendship became much closer than it ever had before.

There could be all sorts of things that could be said about my flippancy or Mindy’s immaturity. The reality is, Jesus calls us to relationship with one another and he calls us to be peacemakers. Dan exemplified what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:9. He didn’t make judgments about who was right or wrong. He didn’t take sides or wait ‘for time to heal us’.

What he did was to put himself in the vulnerable position of peacemaker. Each of us is called to do the same. When a brother or sister in Christ is in conflict we are called to do what we can to reconcile ‘warring factions’. God’s word, patience, wisdom, prayer and love are the tools in our arsenal.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us as your children to be actively involved in the lives of others so that we can act as peacemakers when conflict arises. Give us courage to act, wisdom to know how, grace to accept those times when reconciliation attempts fail. Amen.

5/15/2013

When a brother or sister in Christ is in conflict we are called to do what we can to reconcile ‘warring factions’. Matthew 5:9

God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children! Matthew 5:9 (CEV)

It was a stupid thing to say and just plain wrong. It was one of those situations where you wish you could just grab the word bubble and pull it back into your mouth and pretend it never happened. Of course, it didn’t work that way. In my stupid attempt to be funny I offended a dear friend. She stormed away, hurt, humiliated and angry…for good reason, I might add.

A mutual friend came to me a few days later and told me she’d talked to him about the things I’d said to Mindy (not her real name). It was slightly embellished, but for the most part accurate. I was embarrassed and ashamed. The situation wasn’t made any easier by the fact that we were mutual friends and were together often in social situations. Mindy would see me and move to an opposite side of the room. I tried on a few occasions to apologize, but she had nothing to do with it.

There’s an old saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. Mindy and my situation was living proof of that adage. I was wrong for what I said. Her refusal to listen to my apology or forgive me wasn’t appropriate either. It was just as stupid and immature as the words I spoke to start the whole situation.

After several weeks, our mutual friend approached me. He’d been watching from the sidelines and had frankly seen enough. “Something has to be done to resolve this”, he told me one day as we met for coffee. I agreed and shared how I’d tried on several occasions to reconcile, but to no avail.

Dan, our mutual friend, decided that if reconciliation was going to happen it would have to be done with a mediator. He approached Mindy and she seemed more than willing for the three of us to meet together. We met at our church in a conference room. Dan read from Matthew on the importance of forgiving a brother when he sins. Then it was my turn. I told Mindy (again) how sorry I was for my words, that they were stupid and just plain un-Christian. I asked her (again) to forgive me. To my surprise she did! We talked. We hugged. Our friendship became much closer than it ever had before.

There could be all sorts of things that could be said about my flippancy or Mindy’s immaturity. The reality is, Jesus calls us to relationship with one another and he calls us to be peacemakers. Dan exemplified what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:9. He didn’t make judgments about who was right or wrong. He didn’t take sides or wait ‘for time to heal us’.

What he did was to put himself in the vulnerable position of peacemaker. Each of us is called to do the same. When a brother or sister in Christ is in conflict we are called to do what we can to reconcile ‘warring factions’. God’s word, patience, wisdom, prayer and love are the tools in our arsenal.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us as your children to be actively involved in the lives of others so that we can act as peacemakers when conflict arises. Give us courage to act, wisdom to know how, grace to accept those times when reconciliation attempts fail. Amen.


Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:15

A friend of mine came around the corner of his garage just in time to see his young son with the garden hose, filling his lawn mower with water! He stopped him immediately, but it was too late. The tank which had been nearly empty, was now full of a mixture of gasoline and nice fresh water. The little boy was very proud of himself for ‘helping daddy’ get ready to mow the lawn!

The lad, of course had no idea the damage that could have been done had dad not discovered his actions. Not only would the mower not had run properly, the engine would have been completely destroyed. Water and gas don’t mix. Gasoline engines weren’t made to run on water.

To fix the situation, dad drained the fuel tank completely and made sure it was completely dry. Then he filled it with fresh, untainted fuel. Any moisture left behind could have had disastrous effects on the engine.

The prophet Amos, found a similar situation during his ministry to the people of Israel. The people had strayed far from the laws that God had instituted. They were a greedy people. They were an immoral people. They had turned worship into a bunch of rules, traditions and activities.

Amos tells them that if they were to escape the consequences of their sin, changes were going to have to happen. They needed to rid themselves of all evil. Just as my friend needed to completely empty the fuel tank of his mower, Israel needed to completely remove all vestiges of evil in their lives. We call this repentance. It’s a change of activity, a change of attitude, a change of mind. To confess our sin means nothing without repentance.

But more was needed in order for Israel to be restored. They needed to replace the evil actions in their lives with something else, something good, something pleasing to God. It would have done no good from my friend to empty the fuel tank of the mower and then try to start his machine. It needed new fuel in order to run. Clinging to the good rather than evil is called holiness. It involves actions, thoughts and motivations that please God rather than man.

In our lives it’s even more important to replace the ‘evil things’ with good things. Jesus tells us that if a demon leaves and we don’t replace that part of our lives with good things, he’ll just return at a later date…and he’ll bring friends. You’ll be worse off than you were before.

The end result of turning our back on evil and clinging to good is that our lives will be marked with justice towards others. Not the fickle kind of justice the world offers, but the graceful and merciful justice of a loving God.

You can’t run on empty. Ask the Father to search your heart and reveal anything that may be hindering your relationship with him. Then fill that spot with things that are pleasing to him. Your ‘engine’ will run more smoothly.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, reveal to me the areas of my life that need repentance. Empower me to change so that my life is filled with good things, not bad; so my life will exemplify the graceful and merciful justice of your word. Amen.


So put all evil things out of your life: sexual sinning, doing evil, letting evil thoughts control you, wanting things that are evil, and greed. This is really serving a false god. These things make God angry. Colossians 3:5-6 (NCV)

Most of the time people get angry because they aren’t getting what they want or something is being taken from them. Anger is a protection thing. It’s driven by the inner desire of want. For example, maybe you are wrongfully accused, which is an attack on your character so you become angry because the charges simply aren’t true!

Anger can take many different forms and many different styles. It can show itself in physical attack and abuse, or in emotional manipulation. It can lay deep inside your heart and fester like a cancer and grow so hard that even love has a hard time penetrating it. The power of love isn’t hindered very often, but anger can destroy its power.

When we think of anger, it’s important to remember that our anger is completely different than God’s anger. In fact there is no comparison at all. If someone tells you they are angry at you, what they are really saying, in essence, is that you have offended them. Their reasons for being offended may be wrong. Their feelings may be completely without merit, but they are angry at you because they feel you have attacked who they are.

God’s ‘anger towards us’ isn’t because we’ve attacked his character or made him feel bad about himself. God’s anger is towards the sin in our lives, and the reason sin makes God angry is because he sees what the consequences of sin will do.

God sees the ravaging effects of immorality on the soul of a young girl and hates what it does to her. Our Heavenly Father sees the destruction of the human body and of families and children brought on by alcohol and drugs. He sees the sobbing children who are victims of divorce. He sees his name being used to abuse those who are struggling with life and it makes him angry. God’s anger is directed towards any activity that he knows will bring painful consequences into our lives.

Dear friend, no matter what others have told you. Regardless of the teachings of religious bigots and false prophets, God is not angry at you because he hates you. God is angry about the sin in your life because he loves you and knows that painful consequences await you if you continue on the path you are on.

Allow his love to permeate your heart. Let his forgiveness remove the fear and the pain. Let his Spirit empower you to break free in Christ. You may still have to face some consequences, but he will walk with you even during those times.

PRAYER: Father God, I’ve always been told you were angry with me for the sin in my life. Now I realize your anger is because you love me and don’t want me to hurt anymore. I don’t want to hurt anymore either. Please forgive me for my failures. Empower me with your spirit to live free of the power of sin in my life. Keep me from being afraid of you. In Jesus name, Amen.


Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Some people think of confession and would rather have their toe nails pulled out with no pain killers or have surgery with a dull butter knife! The very word ‘confession’ conjures up visions of sitting in a dark room talking to a voice behind the wall or having all your secret thoughts, feelings and actions put up on the big screen for everyone to see. Following the confession you are led out and stoned by those around you.

The picture most of us have of confession is painful at best and terrifying at it’s worst. One of the reasons confession is hard is because confession is often seen as an attack on who we are as a person. If I have hatred in my heart I’m a bad person. If I have thoughts of lust I’m a bad person. If I get angry or struggle with an addiction or am hopelessly in debt I’m bad. I’m a failure and I’ll never amount to anything

Sad to say, the church (note the small ‘c’) has had a part in the negative press confession gets. Confession is really just agreeing with God (and other close friends) that we have faults, failures and struggles in our lives. Confession is not a statement of our worthiness. As Christ-followers our self-worth is wrapped up on the arms of Jesus. We will still struggle with sin. We will still fail. We will still make poor, even stupid decisions. We only need to take a look at some of the greatest Bible heroes like David, Paul, Peter, Abraham, Moses and a whole list of others who have made terrible mistakes either unintentionally or through rebellion.

James tells us that in order to be healthy spiritually, emotionally and even physically we need to live a lifestyle of confession. Prayer, confession and repentance are the three actions that lead to the forgiveness of sins committed by church members.

Earlier I referred to the church with a small ‘c’. The true Church, the body of Christ, operates in a way that makes confession personal and effective. It’s not a liturgical event, nor does it even need to be public. It should be an act of cleansing that says “I know I’m okay. I’m a child of God. But I have issues. I’ve failed and I need to make things right with God and others that I’ve hurt.’

Confession isn’t a trial. It’s to be done with close brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn’t need to be in front of a pastor or priest or congregation. It’s an agreement with you and someone you trust to open yourself to the healing power of prayer. Some have even experienced physical healing by living a life of confession.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for Jesus and His love, forgiveness and understanding. I confess to you that the faults of my past and the mistakes I’ve made haunt me like ghosts. I’ve been abused by those in your church that claim to be helping but have ended up being judgmental and making my life miserable. I claim the freedom I have in you. Show me the areas of my life that need healing. Empower me to find trusted friends who will openly and honestly accept me with all my faults and pray with and for me. Amen.


What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

All the farm animals were sitting around one day deciding how they could honor the farmer who took such good care of them. The Cow gladly offered some milk. The chicken jumped in to offer the eggs. All eyes turned to the pig sitting quietly in the corner. “You know, said the cow, some ham would go mighty nice with those eggs and milk.” The pig thought a moment and then said, “Yes, but you don’t realize that each of your gifts are but a part of you. For me to give, I would have to give my entire life.”

The old story reminds us that we are more likely to take an interest in things when they cost us. It’s easy to say we believe in God and Jesus when we are in a safe crowd. It’s easy to look godly on Sunday morning and angelic when we sing praise and worship songs.

It’s difficult to make the right choices when the pressure is on to have to sacrifice everything to go along with the crowd. It’s almost impossible to be willing to risk your own life or the life of your children for someone else or a cause.

The Bible is the story of God’s desire to show love to mankind. His desire is and always has been to give life to His most cherished creation. That’s why He gave all He could possibly give to provide you with a relationship of love with Him now and a promise of eternal life after we leave this world.

Because He loves you so much, He watched His innocent son die among thieves for the sin of guilty criminals. Because He loves you so much, He allows you to refer to Him as ‘Daddy’ He welcomes you into His arms as though you (a mere mortal) were His very own son. Because He loves you so much He is honored to accept you into His very presence, into the throne room of Heaven. Because He loves you so much, He is willing to give you His own power through His Holy Spirit.

Is it any wonder then, that we can rest in His protection. If we draw near to Him and trust us with our lives we don’t need to worry about the enemies that surround us. Nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing can attack us without His permission. Even when we rebel against Him, He beckons us to come to Him for healing.

If God is for me, then no seen or unseen enemy will win over me! I am His and He is mine. Forever.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that most times the struggles I endure and the fears I face are consequences of my own poor decisions and my stubborn rebellion to follow your ways.  Thank you for giving up so much of yourself for me when you knew I would fail you and others around me. Forgive me for my rebellious spirit. Help me to learn to walk with you through the struggles of life whether they are my own creation or the work of the enemy. Empower me now to live with the resolve to follow your ways and be guided by Your Holy Spirit. Give me courage to do what is right regardless of the fall out. Amen.

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