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My post today is the fourth and final one in my series on being a peacemaker. In part one and two I wrote about five things that peacemakers must do. And in part three I wrote about two more: they must be willing to state their opinions as opinions and they must be willing to ask permission before sharing those opinions. And just as my first three posts were inspired by the Scripture (in italics) I read that night so many years ago, today’s post was as well.

 

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Try to be sympathetic and compassionate of John’s situation. John’s mind and heart are a complicated mess of darkness and emotion, remember that when you are tempted to be affected by him. I know that it is easy to be affected and offended by John but stand above that. Be unmoved by his words. When he makes emotional statements, do not respond to them! Stick to the issue and to reality, do not get lost in his emotion.

 

“If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrong-doing is sin and there is sin that does not lead to death.”

Pray for John. Pray unceasingly for him. Pray for his heart. Pray that you will have wisdom to know how to love him. Pray that his eyes and ears will be opened. Pray that he will allow you into his life. Pray, pray, pray.

 

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Keep loving him! That is all you can do right now. Hopefully, prayerfully, John’s eyes and ears will someday be opened and if and when that day comes you will be there to help guide him. But until then, keep loving him. Who knows, your love may be the very thing that brings him to that day.

 

Do you struggle to be compassionate towards people who are hard to get along with?

How often do you pray for the people in your life?

Are you diligent about loving those around you?

 

I hope and pray that the words I have shared with you over the past week have in some way been a blessing to you and to the relationships in your life. I have included a summary (below) of the ten things we have covered. As always, thank you for reading!

His and Yours,

~Echo~

 

In summary:

Peacemakers must…

…be slow to speak.

…speak to their listener.

…be sincere.

…be willing to let disagreements go for the sake of a relationship.

show people God’s love rather than just telling them about it.

…be willing to state their opinions as opinions.

…be willing to ask permission before sharing their opinions.

…be compassionate.

…pray without ceasing.

…be diligent about loving those around them.

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” -Matthew 5:9

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Welcome to part three of my series on being a peacemaker. In part one of this series I blogged about two things peacemakers must do. And in part two I blogged about three more: they must be sincere, they must be willing to let disagreements go for the sake of a relationship and they must show people God’s love rather than just telling them about it. Today I want to share with you two more thoughts inspired by verses (in italics) I read that night several years ago.

 

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor?”

There was a time in my life when I presented my opinions as law. Instead of a statement being my perspective, or my opinion, it was law. For various reasons, I cannot do that anymore. That may be good, that may be bad (I haven’t decided yet) but I just can’t find it within myself to express my beliefs as law. I encourage you to consider this. For example: Instead of stating: “The beach is the best place to go on vacation.”, consider: “I believe the beach is the best place to go on vacation.” I have found that less doors are closed when a subject is approached this way. Also, this guarantees that you are right! It is true that you believe the beach is the best place to go on vacation.  (I don’t actually know that you believe this, I’m just using it as an example.) Therefore, no one can argue whether your statement is true or not. And as an added bonus, you come across as more approachable if they want to discuss their opposing belief with you. Let God be the judge of John. If he asks for your opinion, your advice, your help, then by all means, be eager. But otherwise, in this particular case, let God deal with him.

 

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Another thing I have changed in the last couple of years is offering my opinion when I have not been asked for it or gotten permission to share it. I try to always start a conversation with: “Can I talk to you about something?” or “Can I give you advice about something?” That way you know whether the input is welcome or not and can respond accordingly. Take the time to solidify your thoughts and beliefs so that when someone does ask, you can answer. But answer gently and respectfully…even when you don’t feel like it.

 

Do you usually present your opinions as law?

How often do you ask for permission before sharing your opinion with someone?

 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of my series on being a peacemaker, coming soon.

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Yesterday I blogged about two things peacemakers must do: they must be slow to speak and when they do speak, they must speak to their listener. Today I want to share with you three more things peacemakers must do. These thoughts were also inspired by verses (in italics) I read that night several years ago.

 

“But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

I think it is wonderful that you are pursuing peace. Don’t give up! I know it feels hopeless but do not allow that! Be merciful of John! Be impartial to his ridiculousness but sincere in your love for him (when I say love, I mean “doing what is best for and wanting what is best for” the other person). 

 

“See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

I know it is near impossible to ignore John’s choices but I believe you currently have no other choice if you want any chance of mending things. Do you agree with him? No. Do you approve of his choices? No. Can he hear anything you say about it? I don’t think so. Let God deal with him. Maybe someday God will use you for that and I hope that if or when He intends to, you will know it without a doubt. But for now, let it go and leave it to God to deal with John.

 

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Let John see God’s goodness and wisdom in you by your actions, not your words. For whatever reason, John cannot (or again, will not) hear your words. For now at least, let your actions be a testimony to God’s beauty and goodness. Be humble and be forgiving of John. Show him God’s love rather than telling him about God’s love.

 

How do the peacemakers in your life show you God’s love rather than just telling you about God’s love?

Do you have a relationship with someone who’s choices you do not agree with? Have you been able to set that aside for the sake of the relationship?

 

Thanks for reading part two of my series on being a peacemaker. Stay tuned for part three, coming soon…

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” -Matthew 5:9

 

A few years ago, after a dear friend emailed me asking for advice, I prayed for wisdom, let my Bible fall open in my lap, and began reading. These are some of the verses (in italics) that I read that night. The words written after them are my own, inspired by those that I read. I hoped and prayed then that these words would be a blessing to my friend. I hope and pray now they will be a blessing to you.

 

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

I encourage you to talk with a neutral party before communicating any negative emotions. Find someone that you respect and admire and run your thoughts and feelings by them before sending any Emails, making any phone calls or pursuing any confrontations. Find a good “sounding board” to incorporate into your life. Also, be quick to ask questions, slow to make accusations. I have found that this is ALWAYS more effective, especially initially. Some people can handle bold statements, most can’t. Most people can handle sincere questions, few can’t. Speaking out of emotion almost always gets me in trouble. Learn to communicate emotion without communicating through emotion. This is a very hard concept for most people (myself included) and takes much practice and guidance.


“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

Consider your words very, very carefully. Remember that everyone’s perspective is different. Speak for the benefit of your listener. If you came to me and said, “Your choices are ruining your marriage.” I would be eager to hear why you think so. If you go to John and make that exact statement, he will likely be hurt and respond defensively. Same statement, same mouth, same motives: different results. John cannot (or will not) see God or God’s love (or your “religion”) through statements like these. Remember to speak to your listener.

 

Who are the peacemakers in your life?

In what ways have they been a good example of being quick to listen and slow to speak?

Are you known to be a peacemaker?

 

Would love to hear your answers in the comment section below. Stay tuned for a continuation of “Ten Things Peacemakers Must Do”, coming soon!

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My, my have I been M.I.A! Where does the time go? I started to write this post at the beginning January (you know, back when writing a post about a new year seemed a bit more relevant). But then life happened and blogging didn’t and here we are seven weeks later. It’s been on my mind ever since, though, so here we go.

I realized some time between the last week of December and the first week of January that I really only needed to make one resolution for the new year. I realized, with an astonishing amount of clarity, that if I would just do this one thing for the entire year, my life would see great improvement.

So resolve I did, that 2012 would be my year of letting go.

Letting go of fear.

Letting go of regret.

Letting go of perfectionism and judgmentalism and materialism (a lot of isms).

Letting go of the 20 pounds I was still carrying around from my pregnancy with Canyon.

Letting go of possessions, so many possessions (including our house, Lord willing!).

Letting go of the obsessive compulsive behaviors that take too much of my time and too much of my brain power and too much of my energy and really hold no value whatsoever.

Letting go of the cultural brainwashing I have allowed myself to fall victim to about beauty and convenience and what is truly valuable in this short life.

Letting go of hurt feelings and misunderstandings…and a grudge or two.

Letting go of impatience and anger and stinginess and pride.

Letting go of expectations.

Letting go of control.

For seven weeks I have been letting go, uttering that phrase to myself a dozen times a day or more. And you know what I am finding?

I am finding that the more I let go, the more room I have for grace in my life. Grace. And peace. And joy. And freedom.

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Psalm 1/16

In my moments of darkness I feel fear

I know You are here

I truly believe You here my prayer

And that You love me

I feel Your presence

Your attentiveness

Your compassion

And still, in my moments of weakness, I feel such raw and unbridled fear

I am desperate for unwavering faith

For perspective

For peace

I trust You and know with all my heart that You will never leave me

But do I have faith in You?

Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.

According to your faith, will it be done to you.

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I breathe in the crisp, night air. It is snowing. The neighbors’ yards are glistening with what snow has already fallen. The road is wet and intermittently icy. There are Christmas tree lights in many windows. Lamp light warms the living rooms of the houses that I pass by. I can see into my parent’s front window. My entire family is inside. All the children are in bed, the adults gathered in the living room/dining room. Soon I will join them. But not now. Not yet.

A sudden and intense longing to move my legs and breathe some fresh, winter air has landed me in the middle of the street. And in my haste I have only taken the time to don a pair of tennis shoes and a light jacket over the pajama pants and t-shirt I was already wearing. The wind cuts through the thin fabric of my attire. Ice cold water climbs my pants as each blue cuff drags the ground. The moisture quickly seeps into my shoes as well, and my wet socks begin to cling to my frozen toes. I stick my hands into my jacket pockets to spare them from the frigid air. Instinctively, my shoulders hunch and my core muscles contract in their effort to protect me from the cold, and for several moments I allow them to.

I walk in silence, filling my lungs with the cold, winter air, then slowly letting it all back out again. But my hunched shoulders and contracted core are counteracting my deep breaths and preventing the relaxation that usually accompanies them. When I realize this, I make the decision to let go and to be fully present in my cold surroundings instead of trying to hide from them. The difference this makes is remarkable. Almost instantly all of the tension I am holding begins to melt, like that last thin layer of snow that still covers the ground on a sunny winter day. Somehow, in the moments following, the cold doesn’t seem to bother me so much.

“I don’t know what to pray for, God.” I finally blurt out quietly, without really meaning to, shaking my head. This confession breaks the night’s silence as well as the disconnect I have felt for several days now. “I know that I need You. I know that I need…something. Please help me.”

What happens after I utter my plea, “please help me”, I can only describe as a direct response from my Father in Heaven and a truly incredible experience- like He is praying the prayer for me and answering it all at the same time, telling me what I should ask for, then granting the request the moment it is asked.

The words in bold are the words that came to my mind, that I offered to Him. The words in italics were the words He gave  back to me.

my childrenpatience. a fresh perspective.

future childrenpeace. hope. that I will not live in fear. that my hope will be in God, not in my own plan.

my husbandto be Jesus to him. compassion. keeping the fire burning.

my family appreciation.

our small groupinspiration.

the lostwisdom for how to serve and love them.

my purposeclarity. a vision.

my passiondirection.

A calmness and a sense of clarity fill my heart and my mind as I meditate on each word He gives me.

When I am almost back to the house, I feel I should end my prayer as I often do- by counting my blessings. Immediately when this thought comes to mind, He reminds me to be thankful for my health, my home, my family, and hope. And oh, how right He is! My heart feels as though it will burst with gratitude for the blessings He has given me.

As I walk back up the driveway, the scripture, “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves.” Romans 8:26-27, plays through my head and makes me wonder- was tonight an example of this?

I think I will always remember, how on this Christmas night, if only for a few minutes, the world around me was silent and white. And how when I stepped outside in pursuit of a walk and a deep breath, the ensuing stillness led me back to my Creator.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

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