Sande Resolves Conflicts; Makes Peace

Sande_review_20200504Ken Sande. 2005. Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Reviewed by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The word, peace, carries baggage for those of us who grew up during the Vietnam War. Those opposed to the war, called peaceniks, were known for folk music, long hair, promiscuity, smoking dope, holding demonstrations, and questioning the legitimacy of established authorities. Boomers basically bought the message and the postmodern era went prime time.  Before the war in Vietnam ended, however, college campuses became battlefields and many boomers burned their bridges with those who came before and everything that they stood for.  So when a favorite professor of mine assigned a book on peacemaking, I started having unpleasant flashbacks.

My Vietnam era flashbacks were unwarranted.

Introduction

Ken Sande’s Peacemaker:  A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflicts is not about politics or social justice or war.  It is about how we, as Christians, model Christ in our personal relations [1].

Sande (11) writes:  Peacemakers are people who breathe grace.  He outlines four broad principles of peacemaking:

  1. Glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31),
  2. Get the log out of your eye (Matthew 7:5),
  3. Gently restore (Galatians 6:1),
  4. Go and be reconciled (Matthew 5:24) (12-13).

These four principles structure Sande’s book.  Each part breaks into three chapters.  The main body of the text is sandwiched between a preface and a conclusion.  Following the conclusion are six appendices, notes, bibliography, and three sets of indices—subjects, persons, and scriptural references (7-8).

Responses to Conflict

Sande (22-23) sees three basic responses to conflict:  escape, attack and make peace.  We can escape through suicide, running away, or denial.  We can attack through through assault, litigation, or murder.  Neither response normally honors God.  We can make peace by overlooking the offense, reconciling, negotiating, mediating, arbitrating, or holding people accountable.  Sande (22) sees peace making as: an opportunity to solve common problems in a way that honors God and offers benefits to those involved.

Sande sees eye logs as a big problem.  He (78) observes that: people usually treat us as we treat them.  He (80) divides issues as either material (property, money, rights, or responsibilities) or personal (what goes on inside or between persons).  He (84-89) cites 5 attitudes recommended by the Apostle Paul:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always,
  2. Let your gentleness be evident to all,
  3. Replace anxiety with prayer,
  4. See things as they really are, and
  5. Practice what you have learned.

Like Jesus, Sande sees conflict beginning in the heart (James 4.1).

Restoring brothers and sisters in Christ requires sensitivity.  The biblical principle in restoration is:  to keep the circle of people involved in a conflict as small as possible (186).  Sande (186-193) lays out the 5-step process in Matthew 18:15-17:

  1. Overlook minor offenses,
  2. Talk in private,
  3. Take one or two others along,
  4. Tell it to the church, and
  5. Treat him [her] as a nonbeliever.

Sande oulines an 8-step process for a church to become intentional about peace-making (198-199).

Peace not Optional

Sande makes the point that peace-making is less an option than a requirement for the Christian.  The reason is simple—out relationship with God is affected directly by our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Sande starts by citing a story of Jesus:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24 ESV).

The allusion here is to Cain murdering his brother, Abel, in Genesis 4:1-16.  The point is that when we, as Christians, turn our backs on resolving interpersonal conflict, the culture develops a blind spot that opens the door to wider conflict.  Hence, Sande does have something to say about Vietnam, albeit indirectly.`

Assessment

Ken Sande’s Peacemaker addresses an important blind spot in the life of the church–applying biblical principles to conflict resolution.  Interpersonal conflict tears at the fabric of our society and secular efforts to deal with it are ad hoc and neglect the spiritual problem at the heart of it.  Peacemaker fills this need.  Still, Peacemaker is more of a manual to apply than a book to read.  Pastors may want to train leaders (www.peacemaker.net) before launching into a sermon series or small group study on conflict resolution.

Footnotes

1/ Sande states his purpose in writing as:  how God can help you as an individual Christian throw off worldly ideas about resolving conflict and become true peacemakers (15)

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Books, Films, and Ministry

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Covered and Healed

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Living in ChristFor we know, 

brothers and sisters loved by God, 

that he has chosen you, 

because our gospel came to you 

not only in word, but also in power and 

in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 

(1Thes 1:4-5)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Do you truly feel forgiven and loved by God?

It is one thing to know that you are covered by the blood of Jesus in your head and it is another thing to feel it in your heart. 

Fear and Anxiety

In 2010, I signed up for a small group discussion at church. A couple days later the pastor’s wife called to inform me that the group that I have signed up for was over-subscribed and asked whether I would be willing to join another group. No problem, I said reluctantly thinking to myself–why would I want to join a group talking about fear? So I bought the book and as I read along, I found my life jumping off the pages–not only had fear crept into my life; it was quietly dictating a lot of my decisions. Through almost no effort on my part, God had directed me to a major stronghold in my life and helped me deal with it.

Max Lucado (2009, 5-6) observed that: ordinary children today are more fearful than psychiatric patients were in the 1950s. Fear displaces happiness; fear is unproductive; fear is self-defeating. After the storm on the Galilee, Jesus asked: why were you afraid? (Matthew 8:26) In suggesting the destructive potential of fear, Martin Niemoeller observed in 1933 that it was fear that transformed Adolf Hitler into a tyrant (Lucado 2009, 9-11).

Fear of losing one’s children, one’s job, or one’s health can paralyze a person. Who can contemplate Einstein’s theory of relativity when one worries about the roof collapsing? We live in an age of fear. 

Emergency Room

I recently made a trip to Cambridge, MA to visit my daughter and her husband. We had a wonderful time together, but two days before my return home I ate something that set off my stomach and it exacerbated a problem that I have with my prostrate. Unable to urinate, I ended up in the local hospital in the emergency room where they inserted a catheter, which I lived with for about two weeks. Because movement of almost any kind was uncomfortable, I was able to travel home but almost all of my normal activities—writing, exercise, volunteering, church attendance—halted during my distress.

Embarrassed by my condition, I did not advertise my sudden dependency on the good graces of my friends and family. Nevertheless, word got around and I soon found three churches and a lot of friends praying over me. Meanwhile, my wife proved herself to be an absolute angel.

A great peace came over me. For the first time in recent memory, I found myself anxiety-free. I have always felt God’s love; now, I felt loved like never before by the church and my family. Being a lifelong nervous eater, this peace displaced interest in food and I lost more than ten pounds, a healing brought about by this peace.

Loved by God

We serve a God of abundance. The Apostle John recognized the divinity of Christ through his miracles of abundance: wine, loaves of bread, and fish (John 2, 6, 21). The trademark of God’s healing displays itself as healing extends beyond the presenting diagnosis. In my case, I no longer need a catheter and I continue to enjoy a deep peace and weight loss.

References

Lucado, Max. 2009. Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Covered and Healed

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Value Of Life

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New Day Prayer

New Life
New Life

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty and Merciful Father,

I praise you for the daily sunrise,

the birth of the new day

when your glory sparkles and warms and

invites us to rethink who we are and

learn again to be surprised.

Forgive me for getting stuck in a moment,

forgetting who I am and

undervaluing the promises that you have made

to bless and make new.

Thank you for beautiful reminders

that chase away the shadows and

bring the chance to start over.

In the power of your Holy Spirit.

grant me the strength to face the young day

with joy and thanksgiving and

the deep peace that only you can bring.

Remember those that suffer and

may I also lessen their burden.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

New Day Prayer

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Books, Films, and Ministry

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Prayer for Congruity

Winter Trees by Sharron Beg
Winter Trees by Sharron Beg (www.threadpaintersart.blogspot.com)

Merciful father,

How long must I wait to see your face more clearly?

To feel your hand on my shoulder and know that I have served you well?

My soul longs to hear your voice over the chaos of life

and to sense your passion over creation.

Be especially present in this time and place.

Open hearts and minds in this dismal land.

Save us from the stupor of a life lived poorly and out of harmony with your will for us.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, grant me strength for the day;  grace for those I meet; and peace,

the peace that passes all understanding.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Congruity

Also see:

Tennant Highlights Five Gifts

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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Workout Prayer

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Soccer, 1982By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Merciful father,

Thank you for each and every new day.

The chance to witness a new sunrise and to feel the warm breeze of summer afternoons.

The opportunity to participate in new life, to care for the old, and to experience both.

May your Holy Spirit inhabit this temple (1 Cor 6:19) all the days of my life.

May I remain a fit custodian praying to you

even as I workout in the gym, swim my laps, and compete on the field.

Bless my heart that it might be ever open to feel the pain of others.

Bless my mind that it might attend to your commandments and not be seduced by sin.

Bless my legs that they might carry where you would have me go.

Bless my arms that they may carry the burdens of your children.

Teach me to care for your people the way that I care for my own body.

Grant me strength for the day, grace for those I meet, and peace—the peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7).

In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Workout Prayer

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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Prayer for Peace

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Twins
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty God,

Grant us shalom, your peace, which is more than just the absence of war.

Save us from ourselves, from greed, from selfishness, from hardened hearts and stopped ears.

May we never pray for peace, but harbor war in our hearts.

May we never pray for peace only when we have gotten our way.

Teach us how to be ashamed; may we learn again to blush.

May your ways again be our guide and your truths a joy to our hearts.

Teach us to order our lives by your word.

May we listen to your watchman and not ignore the trumpet.

Remove your stumbling block from our feet, the blind from our eyes, that we may no longer sin and perish.

Forgive the sins of our fathers and our temptation to repeat them,

That the day of judgment would not be today. (Jer 6:13-23)

In the power of your Holy Spirit, enter our hearts and cleanse them,

that we might be saved through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Peace

Also see:

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2vfisNa

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Prayer for Unity

Noah's Ark at RPC
Mural in Riverside Presbyterian Church

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Gracious Lord of Heaven and Earth,

We give thanks for the many blessings that we have received,

blessings that are lightly shared by some and lacking in others,

blessings that may evoke jealousy, envy, and strife.

Give us generous hearts, open minds, and outstretched hands,

that all might be blessed by the blessings that we have received.

We ask for unity, the opportunity of reconciliation, and the ability to accept it.

May we not gloat; may we not reject our neighbors; or cherish too greatly our own blessings.

Open our eyes to the needs around us; open our ears to the voices that we have trouble hearing; give us the patience to listen when others need to speak.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit, bring us together as a nation that we might follow Jesus’ example in all we do–this day and every day.

And grant us peace, in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Unity

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Prayer for Shalom

cherry_tree_04202016

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6 ESV):

We praise you for your example of shalom in the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

in communion, in relationship, working together in love to sustain and empower and protect our world.

We thank you that you are ever-present and enabling us to become your sons and daughters in your family, which is the church.

We thank you for the gift of salvation and the hope of resurrection available to us through the death and resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ.

Forgive us for our indifference to the suffering of the people of Syria; open our hearts and to mend our ways.

Forgive us for the intolerance of our society, eager to find fault and oblivious to the truth; open our eyes to our own faults and self-deception.

Forgive us for our injustice of poverty and illness among us in a land of plenty;  soften our hearts and open our hands.

Help us to live into our salvation, live into our sonship and live into  peace that passes all understanding knowing you and knowing that you will come in glory to bring us  even closer to you.

Teach our leaders humility; teach us to follow their leadership; help us to make room for you in our lives and share your peace with those around us.

Grant us peace in our hearts, peace in our relationships, and peace with you that made possible by the forgiveness secured by Jesus on the cross.

In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Shalom

Also see:

Prayer for Peace 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2vfisNa

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34. Prayers of a Life in Tension by Stephen W. Hiemstra

HPrayers_of_a_Life_in_Tension_weboly and Gracious God,
In the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to cast off the works of the flesh by separating ourselves from sexual immorality, impurities, sensuality, idolatry, and sorcery, fleeing from from enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions, and envy, refusing to engage in drunkenness and orgies. Through the example of Jesus Christ, bid us to purse the fruits of the spirit by practicing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Crucify the passions of the flesh in us that we may passionately love the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:19-24). May peace on your terms grow to become our peace on our terms and may we share it with those around us. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

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33. Prayers for a Life in Tension by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Prayers_of_a_Life_in_Tension_web

Great Physician, Prince of Peace, Lord of the Sabbath,

Where can we find peace but with you? Holy Spirit grant us your peace. As our bodies are at war within us… We want to be filled with your peace, impatiently filling our stomachs beyond need and beyond capacity looking for you but finding only the refrigerator. repeatedly popping pills for the unsightly ailments real and imagined needing you but but not making room for you in our busy schedules. Heal our hearts, bodies, and minds; grant us your peace.

Where can we find peace but with you? Jesus grant us your peace. As our relationships are in tadders… We want to be faithful children and parents and spouses imprudently grasping first after our own goals, looking to be served by those around us rather than serving, jealously demanding more from others than from ourselves. Heal our families and relationships; grant us your peace.

Where can we find peace but with you? Gentle Father grant us your peace. As we neglect our fellowship with you.., we want to be faithful worshipers, servants, and ministers, serving you but more nearly trying to get our own way, unfaithfully constructing idols of things great and small, hoping in total foolishness to bribe and control you. Forgive our sin; look beyond our transgressions; pardon our iniquity.

Grant us your abundant peace, in Jesus’ previous name, Amen.

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