Competing with Your Spouse – The Chili Cook-off

Earl and I rarely, if ever, compete against each other. 

Our church had a Renewal Weekend, and part of the program was a Chili Cook-Off.  Earl and I entered the competition.  It took Earl about two weeks to realize that he would be competing with me, I, on the other hand was aware of it the moment I entered our names.

I planned, made lists, bought my ingredients.  Earl ordered his secret ingredient from Kansas City, MO.  We then realized that Earl might have to go out of town the day before the competition and try to get back in time for the renewal services.  I got a devil-may-care attitude going.  “Honey, what to do?  You’ve got to enter your chili because you’ve signed up.”   “Oh, and don’t forget they made announcements on Sunday that you and I would be entering.”  “Did I mention that they brought it to everyone’s attention again during Wednesday Night Live dinner?”

Competition is not necessarily a bad thing.  According to the Bible, competition is a vital component of success.  However, left unchecked, competition can also lead to cheating and failure.  According to 2 Timothy 2:5 “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

Did I mention that I was beginning to feel guilty as I saw him get closer to failure?  On the Thursday prior to the cook-off, I called Earl knowing he was under a lot of heavy stress, meetings and pressures, and so I asked him if he wanted me to get his ingredients.  I even offered to make it for him if he would tell me how he made his chili.  I would be happy to follow his instructions to the letter and make sure his chili got to the cook-off for him.

Jesus Christ’s message to his followers was that they should attempt to help others whom they disagree with rather than to make them even more helpless (Luke 9:51-56). Thus, by focusing on caring for others rather than on competing with them, believers can maintain their own integrity while being of service to those in need.

I care for Earl, and I wanted him to enter his chili.  What harm does it do for me to help him out?  It’s still a competition, played by the rules.  Funny thing was, he then told me that he did not need to go out of town and that he would have time to do his own work on his chili.  So let the games begin!

By the way neither one of us won the contest, and I chose the double crock pot before he could do so.  His chili turned out a little dry because he didn’t have enough room for the liquid in his single crock pot.  Was that cheating or just competing?

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Low Man on the Totem Pole and No Problem with That!

Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.”

In VanCouver Canada 2012

In VanCouver Canada 2012

A lot of people may have a huge problem with the scripture above. Why? Because probably most people want to be served, not to be a servant.

We are a society that focuses on self and pleasing ourselves, and this is a far cry from the example that Christ gave us to serve others. We are taught in our Christian belief that once we become a Christian, we have a new nature alongside our old nature; we begin to reflect on the very acts and manner of Christ. We can choose between following our old desires and lusts or following the Holy Spirit within us.

Once God calls us and enables us, it’s easy to accept Christ as our Savior and trust Him to save us. The Holy Spirit moves us to do so. But Christians sometimes stop right there. They understand that acceptance of Christ offers forgiveness of sins – past, present and future. But Christians may count on this gift from God to see them through life -regardless of whether they continue to follow their old natures. But the Holy Spirit prompts followers of Jesus to change their focus on self. The Spirit continues to educate and change us into what God intends for us to be in Christ. The freedom we have in following Christ transforms us into wanting to be more like Him – not doing anything our old nature tells us to do and simply receiving forgiveness. This spiritual transformation freely allows us to shed what we once considered important: ourselves, and sense that others are also equally important to Christ. That transformation leads us to not only listen to His voice, but to move us into service to others. The service that He calls us to engage varies greatly. Some are called into the mission fields, others to the pulpit, and to many other less visible positions in the church.

I have to say at this stage in my Christian walk, I am content to simply be a servant of The Lord. And I’m even happier to be called to be engaged in positions that most folks would consider low on the totem pole. Give me the opportunity to meet and greet new people coming into our church. Give me the opportunity to go out into the community and help feed the hungry. Give me the opportunity to visit folks in the hospital or bring a meal to those who are experiencing illness at home. Give me the opportunity to hold the hand of an elderly person or to hug someone who doesn’t get a hug from anyone else, and I am genuinely happy.

I have recently been granted the wonderful opportunity to help our new members become more connected and integrated into our church family. I am helping them to find those small groups, circles, ministries, members, and committees that they feel God may be asking them to serve. God might use me to help them find their God-given gifts to share with others.

I love being with God’s people, doing what God has called me to do. I know that God has given me the gift of hospitality, and I am currently planning a dinner party for these wonderful new members, just so we can get to know them better. These are the people that God has given me to lift up in pray and care, and what a magnificent pleasure to be in Christ’s service even low on the totem pole!

Pastors, Dogs & Motorcycles….

As a pastor’s wife, I see, hear and feel the stresses of my pastor husband.  Look on line, the internet highway is inundated with information about pastors and all the stress and pressure with which they have to deal.

Pastors tend to hold on to all the church burdens as if they were caretakers of the pain of their people.  They are concerned about every little nuance that is taking place within the church.  They just don’t seem to be able to let it go.  But I learned a long time ago, a pastor may have to deal with church issues, but he/she can certainly help to alleviate the build-up of stress.  

In Acts 20:28 Paul states “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

To “be on guard for yourselves” means also to take care of self.  So we not only guard the flock, but we also guard ourselves.  Jesus paid the price for His Church.  He has placed us here as stewards of His ministry. But if we don’t guard ourselves, how can we guard the flock? 

When I first met Earl, I quickly came to realize that he rarely if ever slowed down in his church work.  He even dragged his children to the hospital on visitations when he was a single dad.  Well, luckily I came along!  It was time for him to loosen up a little and relax a bit. 20 string trio feb 2012 family shelter

Earl is a man of so many interests that it is difficult to recall them all.  As time goes by, his interests just keep adding up.  Years ago, I knew of only one main interest he had – music.  Earl is a composer and a singer.  He actually has studio recorded CDs.  He has boxes and boxes of music that he has composed since his teenage years.  He has written serious classical music and Christian music, but he can also rock! He plays guitar with a group at the church called, “The 20 String Trio.”

He is an amateur astronomer, and an art collector.  He can repair some electronics and repair almost anything around the house.  He likes boating and airplanes, and he is even taking pilot lessons.  He used to run 5Ks regularly in Georgia.  He also water-skis and snow-skis.

   Earl Motorcycle Jan 2013 2Earl also took up motorcycling about 5 years ago.  From time to time, we take the bike out for rides and have even taken one out for a vacation – just driving through God’s country and enjoying the beauty all around us.  We spent New Year’s Day 2013 on our bike, island hoping.  Some of the prettiest roads we’ve ever been on are the oak-canopied roads right here on James Island and Johns Island.  Earl has compiled quite a bit of garage jewelry with his motorcycles and the old automobiles that he has acquired over the years of our marriage.    He does his own maintenance on his toys and his own repairs, which does save us quite a bit of money.    He is not afraid to get down and swim in the oil to fix his own cars or those of his children.  It’s a physical and mental exercise that when completed, grants him a sense of accomplishment.

When he isn’t riding bikes, Earl and Maggie, our dog, play chasing games.  Tug of war is also a favorite.  Earl laughs and laughs at Maggie’s antics.  What a simple way to reduce all the toxic anxieties of stress.  Like they say, “laughter is the best medicine.”

Maggie & Earl Folly Beach Jan 1 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But my favorite stress reliever is taking Earl away from his local ministry field.  I make sure that every year, we plan a two week vacation mid-year to take him completely away from his church work.  And we make sure that he takes a week off after Christmas. 

Earl - Israel ruins 2010

Earl – Israel ruins 2010

Without this time away, Satan can wear a pastor down so that he ends up being a useless servant to the Lord.  And that just is not what God expects of His shepherd whom the Holy Spirit has made an overseer of His church.

So what have you done lately to help your pastor be the best pastor he can be?  He may not be able to see that he needs a reprieve.  So I ask pastors’ wives and congregations to make sure your pastor is in the best shape physically, mentally and emotionally.  We all want God to continue to use him/her to help us see Christ and to grow as His disciples.

Be the One in Ten Christians that have…

The rest of the sentence is, read the Bible!  The Church as a whole, is biblically illiterate.  Ouch, that hurts!

Different research shows slightly different results to the question, “What percent of Christians have read the whole Bible?”  But nevertheless the Spiritual blood of Christians in America is anemic.  Only 1-3 in 10 professed Christians, have ever read the Bible in its entirety.  That means that although every person’s opinion is valid and important, not every Christian’s opinion is informed by the word of God.  Only about 10%-30% even know what God says. 

God expects more of us.  Paul told the young Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable to teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Hasn’t God given us His word that we might understand Him a little better than we would otherwise?  Every other year, I read the Bible in full.  I can honestly say there are a couple books – Numbers being one- that are very dry and extremely difficult to get through.  But this should not discourage us from reading this wonderful set of love letters that God has so graciously bestowed upon us.  I have read the Bible in a number of different ways: cover to cover, New Testament then Old Testament, and the use of Robert Roberts one year study, which offers a reading of the Old Testament and two readings of the New Testament in a year.  This year I have chosen The One Year Bible for Women using the New Living Translation.  It breaks the Bible up so you are reading Old and New Testaments along with Psalms and Proverbs each day.  I haven’t quite figured out the “for women” part of the title yet, perhaps it’s the pink accents.

God has a voice; He has chosen to speak to us in a most personal way.  He has given us a book full of wisdom and love along with guides for the ways we should live our lives.  If we don’t dive in and seek His truths, we will never know.  We will never be able to discuss Christ and His fullness to others that may be seeking Him.

As a pastor’s wife that has read her Bible numerous times, I still have difficulty understanding some of its messages.  But each time I read it, God enlightens me to new insights that He has for me to learn.  He has also given me a great source for learning – my pastor.  Christians are blessed to be offered free counseling by their pastors.  Our pastors are there to help spiritually guide us and to preach and teach those parts that may be difficult to understand.  God has put our pastors in place for this purpose among others.  So don’t be afraid to seek out your pastor to help you.

This year, why not make a New Years’ resolution to read your Bible in full?  Let’s get the percentage of Bible readers up and be able to live as per 2 Timothy 2:15.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth.”

 

Serving Outside the Church Walls

When first entering the ministry as a pastor’s wife, I was clueless as to what was expected of me.  I had been in church all my life. I was raised Catholic, converted to a Baptist at the age of 28 and then upon marrying Earl at the age of 36, I became a Presbyterian.

Though as a Baptist I had served in numerous roles from being the church sexton to the treasurer, as a pastor’s wife, I was puzzled by my role and what might be unspoken assumptions by the congregation as to my responsibilities.

As time went by, I began teaching VBS, teaching Sunday school classes from middle school through high school, women’s bible classes and adult Sunday school.  I’ve been moderator of women’s groups, bible moderator and also the coordinator of women’s gatherings.  I’ve opened my house to the entire church family for Christmas lunch, sang in church choirs and even catered the women’s annual Valentine Banquet.

But one of the most fulfilling aspects for me of being a pastor’s wife has been in finding service projects for the women to do for others outside our church family and in our local community.

There are ministries within the church of which I am very involved.  I love women’s groups, and I make sure that I am a part of at least one woman’s circle.  I always participate in a Sunday school class; I never cease to learn something as we delve into Scripture, no matter how many times I’ve read through the Bible.  And I consider part of my church ministry to host members by inviting them to our home so that Earl and I can get to know our church family a little more personally.

But  I am also involved in more outreach in the community.  I feel that it is of the utmost importance for a pastor’s wife to also make sure she understands and gets to know her community.  The people within the proximity of the church are part of our local outreach.

James Island is right over the Charleston Harbor connector.  There is an organization that started in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo hit the island, called the James Island Outreach.   I was introduced to this little non-profit by our churches volunteer team-leader to the Outreach.  Our church is known as the pasta church.  We provide mainly canned or dried pasta to the Outreach.  We are one of 15 churches on the island that supports the Outreach.  The Outreach is basically a food pantry and provides some assistance in other areas as well.

An opportunity was announced at our church that the Outreach was looking for Saturday volunteers on the first and fourth Saturdays of each month.  I volunteered for the fourth Saturday.  In so doing, I found that our little island had a lot of hungry folks who desperately needed to experience the compassionate sharing hand of God from their fellow islanders.  I eventually went from being a volunteer to also being a member of the Board of Directors and was asked to fill the Treasurer’s seat.

I took an in house class to learn how to in-take clients so I could work the office when needed on those Saturdays that I volunteered.  This has now become a very large part of my ministry here on James Island.  I have never had a client turn me down when asked if I could pray for them during our time together.  Our director, Reverend Joseph Barbour, opens each day with prayer with our volunteers.  God is here, working through our churches, to help all those in need.  And personally, I believe all believers need to find that community outreach that calls them to volunteer their time and to help their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and those who do not know Christ through their trials.  All people are God’s created children.

Get to know your community, its needs and its people.  It’s important to all Christians, but most importantly to the pastor’s wife, in order to better serve her community, her church, her husband, and most importantly, God.

Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

If you feel so led, please volunteer your time or donate food or funds to:  

The James Island Outreach

1853 Maybank Highway

Charleston, SC 29412

Thanksgiving Day Blessings…

When I was growing up, I looked so forward each year to Thanksgiving.  My mom and dad were really good about making it special.   

Growing up on a dairy farm, I had chores to do every day with milking taking place early in the morning before school and late in the afternoon after getting off the bus.  There was no relief on the holidays.  At 4:00 p.m. my brother and sisters and I were off to the barn to spend the next 2 to 3 hours taking care of the animals and milking the cows.  Then cleaning up, we would go into the house to celebrate.  Of course mom was also usually down there in the morning and dad was down there in the evening.

On Thanksgiving Day, the cars were lined up in the driveway and starting at around 4:00 p.m., the festivities with grandparents, aunts and uncles and loads of cousins, began.  By the time we finished chores, it was 6:00-7:00 at night.  We would then come into the house through the basement and try to sneak through the maze of people to get to our rooms to change out of some extremely smelly clothes and race to the bathroom to wash up before dinner.

The aromas coming from my Mother’s kitchen were heavenly.  My mother would cook the biggest turkey she could find 25 – 30lbs, crammed with homemade stuffing.  Earlier in the day, my sisters and I would have already pealed a minimum of 10lbs of potatoes, and along with all that, there was no less than 12 other vegetables and side items spread out on the table for all to be enticed.

For the past 13 years, I have missed out on my family’s Thanksgiving Day dinners and gatherings.  For years, Earl led Thanksgiving Day services in churches.  We’ve also lived so far from either of our families that even when he didn’t have services, just trying to get to them has proved difficult.  In the early years with the kids, we couldn’t afford to fly with three children, so the attempts to get to St. Louis would be delayed by Atlanta traffic.  I remember one year trying to leave Atlanta on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving and 4 or 5 hours into the trip we had traveled only as far as the Tennessee border.  The red lights ahead of us were like a never ending river.  We realized that we had to turn around and go back or drive all night.

So now we have made our own traditions for Thanksgiving.  When the kids were home, I made sure I cooked everything my mom always had.  The first year, Earl and the kids were amazed as they counted 16 different items of food on the table.  I enjoy cooking, so Thanksgiving at our house has always been special, and it’s truly a day that Earl and I can give God thanks and also rest.  We’ve learned that Thanksgiving Day is a restful day – a gift from God for the service we do in His name.  And it gives Earl a couple days to energize before the Advent season begins.

Last year we started what I am going to consider a new tradition in this empty nest season of our lives.  With no kids at home and living far away from family, we found some of our friends who weren’t traveling either, and we decided to celebrate with them.  We split the cooking, and we all gather around a feast of food at one of our homes.  This year, we decided to eat over at our house.  We will enjoy the fellowship of one of our church families – but representative of our thanksgiving for all the saints.

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” (I Thess. 1:2-3)

I Need My Pastor….

“Earl, I need to talk to my pastor.”

Whereas my husband is a counselor to many when it comes to spiritual, life and relational issues, does anyone wonder who the pastor’s wife goes to for such help?  Most people would probably recommend some independent, Christian counselor.  Is it possible for a spouse to be your pastor and counselor?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, a.k.a Clergy Appreciation Month.  With a few clicks of the mouse and very little research, I found that Pastors have been unofficially” recognized the second Sunday each October since around 1992.  Funny thing, we have been officially celebrating Groundhog Day since February 2, 1887!   Is it possible that we are more apt to put our focus upon a rodent who supposedly predicts the future over our Pastors who help us to find a personal relationship with our Creator and encourage us and help us to grow in our faith in Jesus Christ?  I’m just saying…

I see very few churches that even recognize the month let alone a day for Pastor appreciation.  Ever since I have known Earl, whenever someone mentions Pastor Appreciation Month, he quickly tries to refocus it into an employee appreciation month.  But my husband, without fail, will be there for everyone else with just the ring of the phone or a knock on the door.  His ministry is to preach the Word of Christ to all who will listen and to witness to those who cross his path.  He will hear your joy; celebrating with you, and he will comfort you in pain; crying with you in grief.  He will preach the Bible to the very foundation of what it stands for, and he will not be ashamed of it.

There are many times I have looked at my pastor husband and said “I need my pastor”.  It is astounding how quickly, as I watch his face, he transforms into my pastor.  That’s right!  As a member of the congregation for which he serves, I too claim Earl as my pastor and sometimes, even my counselor.  And Earl knows enough to understand that his wife needs a pastor too.  Not many people think about that fact.  But I do.

I love Earl – My husband.  I appreciate and respect Earl – My pastor.

I want to reach out and let my pastor know how much I appreciate him.  He has counseled me, he has strengthened me in my spiritual journey, and he has educated me in spiritual discernment and theology.  He has pointed out to me God’s Holy Word during times of trials, and he has prayed for me and prayed for me and prayed for me.

Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

What has your pastor done for you?  More than a groundhog, I feel sure.  I’m just saying…

Blessings and peace…..Laura

Come, Have Dinner with Me!

Deutsch: Gastronomie om Schlosshotel

        It was Friday night and as many know, Friday is date night for Earl and me each week.  But last week it was a little different.

     Earl began CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) classes at the end of August, and they last until December 18th.   This past weekend was his first of eight, overnight, on-call volunteer times.

     So we decided that we would have a date night on Thursday night.  We tried a restaurant in downtown, Charleston.  We love sampling the food at different restaurants, and I almost always prefer Italian.  Unfortunately, we left the restaurant $60 poorer and still hungry.     Whoever heard of leaving an Italian restaurant hungry?         

                                                                           

Friday is also Earl’s day off (on call 24/7 always, but we say it’s his day off), so he got up early, worked on his computer, went into the office (he feels guilty now that he takes a day or two for the chaplaincy program, so he goes in on Friday)….then he came home and worked on one of his many auto projects before dressing to the nine’s and heading to the hospital. 

Before leaving he asked me, “Would you come to the hospital and have dinner with me?”  OK, I’ll be honest here, as the pastor’s wife, my first thought was not positive.  It was more like “What?  You’ve got to be kidding!”  But even as he was asking, and I was rejecting, I knew without a doubt, I would be going with him.

It’s not often that I deny Earl his heartfelt requests, and anybody who knows me, knows this is true.  But why would I deny myself an opportunity to spend a little time with Earl, even if it is in a hospital cafeteria?  As many people know, a pastor’s family life is very difficult.  Check out the blog-post here that I wrote concerning statistics on a pastor’s life and family.  So with this knowledge, I know not to make our life any more difficult than it already is.  If I’m given an opportunity to be with him, and I can do it, I’m there! 

When I met him at the St. Francis Hospital cafeteria, I must say that we enjoyed a fabulous fish dinner with rice and greens along with drinks and bread – all for less than $10.  The meal was fabulous!  My date continued on with a tour of the chapel, the CPE offices, and then I was brought upstairs to see where he would be spending the night.  It was in a small room on a tiny little single bed.  Earl is 6’2”, and this was not going to be comfortable for him to say the least.  Not only that, but the bed wasn’t even made up.  Ghee-gads!  Earl and I spent a few minutes locating the linens and then without a second thought, I was making up his bed for him. 

I figure it this way, I feel so blessed that God has given me a few things in this life to oversee, whereas Earl has been given much to oversee.  I certainly want to make sure that I do all I can for such a caring, compassionate and humble pastor, so that he can touch the souls of those in distress and those that are depressed and dispirited, by the Spirit of God that works through him.

Matthew 9:36 NASB

36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Do You Have a Bag of Regrets?

How many of us can look back on our lives and say that we don’t have any regrets?  I most certainly cannot.

I had a friend that wrote a letter to me about 10-12 years ago, and one of the statements that she made was, “I have no regrets in my life.”  Wow.  This is a woman that I went all the way through school with.  She married, had children, owned a business, and was an elder of her church.  How can someone go through life and look back and say that all the choices he or she made were the correct ones – no regrets? 

I regret things all the time.  I seem to have a whole bag of them.

1)      the tone of my voice when I’m irritated and take it out on someone else;

2)      not making more friends;

3)      having too much pride – causing me to hold back an apology that is due someone;

4)      not giving enough of myself to the needy;

5)      denying God when He’s asked me to do something that was out of my comfort zone;

6)      not getting involved in a particular mission that God has laid on my heart for 13 plus years. 

I believe there are different kinds of regret.  Some are regrets concerning decisions we’ve made in our lives that didn’t help us out personally.  Other regrets concern decisions we’ve made that didn’t better someone else.

My regrets revolve around the decisions I’ve made that didn’t make someone else’s life a little better or a little easier.  I’ve been somewhat selfish in that regard, and I’ve regretted that tremendously.  But that is a regret that can be eased from the burden that I drag around with me.  It doesn’t need to be over my shoulder, weighing me down.  I can move forward in life and work on helping the next person that comes along that is in need of Christian grace and love.  I have His love because God has blessed me with it abundantly.  So why not share it with those who need it most?

I have no regrets for me personally.  I don’t regret poor decisions that I made that hurt or hindered me.  I don’t regret decisions that I made that didn’t prosper me.  I give thanks to God that He used my decisions to grant me experiences in order that I can help someone else who needs the same grace that I received from God.

I can move forward, making my future decisions better, based on the experience from my past.  God doesn’t want us to have regrets after we have been forgiven.  He wants us to live from this day onward for the better – looking forward to the goal – of being like Jesus Christ and looking forward to the prize– of being with Jesus Christ, not looking back and holding onto regrets. I’ve dropped my bag of regrets……with no regret!

13… But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13

Message of the Beatitudes – Seven- Peacemaker

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

     So here I am, wondering, do I have what it takes to be a “PEACEMAKER”?

     There could be a difference between a peacemaker and a peacekeeper.  It might be helpful to distinguish between them.  Personally, I believe a peacekeeper is one who tries to a great extent to avoid conflict. This is someone who will not cause waves in a situation.  They just want to keep the peace.  I believe that I might be basically just a peacekeeper. 

     On the contrary, I believe a peacemaker may even have to bring conflict to the surface between individuals to help reconcile any differences.  These are people who are not afraid to iron things out.

The key difference is; a peacekeeper knows that conflict exists but tries to avoid any flare-ups between parties.  A peacemaker takes the potentially hazardous conflict and attempts to reconcile the parties by putting an end to the controversy.

I believe peacemaking requires more Christian attributes and gifts than does peacekeeping.  Peacemaking requires forgiveness whereas peacekeeping may avoid the discussion of forgiveness altogether.  Does someone have to ask for forgiveness before reconciliation takes place?  I believe so.  I have discussed this with Earl.  I have determined that he is correct when he says forgiveness has to be asked for before one can forgive or be truly reconciled.   Doesn’t God call people to repent and ask forgiveness from Him?   I’ve argued that I can forgive people regardless of whether they’ve asked for it or not.  This really is wrong.  What I’ve actually done is made peace within myself in order to avoid conflict from without.  This is a peacekeeper’s way of dealing with situations.  It may even be an insult to tell an individual, “I’ve forgiven you,” when he or she may actually believe that I need to ask for forgiveness from them!  People are not truly reconciled by just making peace within ourselves.

This is where a peacemaker makes all the difference.  Instead of burying my head in the sand and pretending discord doesn’t exist, I need to vocalize how I’m feeling and get the feelings of the other person involved.  Then, with a Christ-like attitude, begin to understand and work on improving the situation that has caused such a struggle in the relationship.

Jesus was very clear about this during the Sermon on the Mount verses, again Matthew 5.  Look at verses 23-24 “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”    

This is a very serious directive that Jesus has given us.  It could quite possibly be put like this way.  If you are in church and The Spirit reminds you that you and your brother or sister are at odds, leave church before offering yourself to God and be reconciled with your sister or brother and then come back and be reconciled with God.    Our relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters is so important to God that He doesn’t accept our worship until we have truly reconciled with our sisters and brothers – provided, of course that it is possible to reconcile with them!  Paul said it this way, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”  God’s ministry and goal for all individuals is reconciliation.  That is not just reconciliation with Him, but between all of us.  How do we expect God to reconcile with us in our sins, when we can’t even reconcile with each other for wrong doings?

Peacemaking is a never ending requirement during this lifetime in order to be like sons of God.  This is the ministry of Christ that He has given to us. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Let us look to His ministry of reconciliation whenever and wherever it is possible – as far as it depends on us – through Christ our Lord.

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