Small Group Study
An eight-week study on biblical peacemaking especially for small groups. $99.00 more info
|Upcoming Event Schedule:
• January 18-19, Oviedo, FL – Mediation Training
• January 19-22, Anchorage, AK – Peacemaker Seminar
• January 18 through February 11, Salem, OR Peacemaker Seminar(DVD series on Monday evenings)• February 14, Phoenix, AZ Pastors Conference• February 29-March 1, Corvallis, OR Peacemaker Seminar• March 6-8, 2008, Bozeman, MT – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• March 6-8, 2008, Turlock, CA – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• April 10-12, 2008, Salem, OR – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• April 18-19, 2008, Dallas, TX – Mediation Only
• April 24-26, 2008, St. Louis, MO – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• Pre-Conference Events
** September 23-25, 2008 – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
** September 23-25, 2008 – Reconciling Church Conflict
** September 23-25, 2008 – Teaching Peacemaking Cross-Culturally
** September 24-25, 2008 – Reconciling Marital Conflict
** September 25, 2008 – Case Administration
** September 25, 2008 – Walking Through Divorce Redemptively
More information, registration, or complete listing of upcoming events
This Holy Tide of Christmas
The theme of peace is everywhere around Christmastime. We see the word “peace” in shop windows and lawn decorations; we hear it on the radio and in our churches; we find it on Christmas cards and even on stamps. Peace is everywhere. And yet it’s nowhere. In spite of the prevalence of the word, we tend to miss out on its significance this time of year. We hear about peace so often that we tune it out just like we tune out the muzak at the grocery store.
Our challenge to you is to not let that happen this year. Slow down a bit and be on the lookout for peace. Look around you in the coming days for the connection between the birth of Christ and the unity of his Body. Then you might actually experience that peace that you hear and see so much about.
Have you thought about how peace is prominent in the biblical account of the birth of Christ? It starts with the well-known prophecy in Isaiah:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6-7, emphasis added)
We also see it in the lesser-known words of the priest Zechariah, whose speech was restored after the birth of his son, John. Zechariah gives us the vivid image of God, in his great mercy, sending us the light from heaven to guide us in peace:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people … because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:68, 78-79, emphasis added)
And, of course, this gift of peace was in the message of the angel chorus to the shepherds:
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2:13-14, emphasis added)
The message of real peace also is found in the music of the season that we are so quick to “tune out.” In fact, Christmas music is so steeped in the gospel of peace that it is sometimes used by our mediators when they work with conflicted churches. In one example, a church was experiencing severe conflict over contemporary versus traditional worship styles. The team of peacemakers that was helping this church wanted to have a time of worship, but what worship style could they use? If they chose one or the other, it would appear that they were showing favoritism to one side of the conflict. And a “blend” of music styles would just mean that both sides would be unhappy. So what kind of music is universally loved, and as an added bonus, often contain messages of peace and reconciliation? Christmas carols! So despite the fact that it wasn’t anywhere near Christmas, their worship that day consisted entirely of Christmas carols. In a small way, Christmas carols helped to bring peace to a church in conflict.
Take a fresh look at some of these favorite carols and be reminded of this wonderful theme of reconciliation. “The First Noel” ends with this great encouragement to praise the Lord together in “one accord” for redeeming us by his blood:
Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his blood mankind hath bought.
Noel, noel, noel, noel. Born is the King of Israel.
Another favorite, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!” gives a great summation of the wonder of the reconciliation between God and man through Christ that allows us to have peace with one another:
Hark the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Peace is the main theme in the hymn written during the Civil War, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” In the midst of this time of great turmoil and suffering, peace seemed so far away and unattainable, just as it often does today in the world around us and even in our churches. But the final verse reminds us:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”
A latter verse of “O Holy Night” reminds us how Jesus indeed taught us to love another and that we can worship him together—with ALL our hearts—in unity:
Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise his holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
And finally, “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” sums up this whole concept with:
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood,
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas,
All others doth deface.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!
Friends, Christmas is a time for peace and reconciliation, based solely what God has done for us in Christ. This is good news—it is tidings of comfort and joy, indeed! And it is reason to join together and sing praise to our Lord.
It is our prayer at Peacemaker Ministries that though the world around us “doth deface” the message of peace, we might embrace one another with true love and brotherhood for the glory of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Merry Christmas to you all!
As the Lord Leads…
Peacemaker Ministries exists because of faithful partners like you. Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support, which enables families and churches all over the world to be transformed by the gospel of reconciliation. Your tax-deductible donations are especially important during this holiday season as we begin to discern how God will use our ministry in the upcoming year.
So as you pray about your year-end charitable giving, we ask that (after remembering your own church) you remember Peacemaker Ministries. You may give a secure gift on-line, or send a check to the address at the end of this email. Thank you for remembering us in your prayers and financial giving as you are able this Christmas season. May the Lord bless your efforts to spread his peace!
Price to Increase for 2008 Peacemaker Conference
The special early bird rate for the 2008 Peacemaker Conference ends on December 31st, so register soon to take advantage of the lowest possible registration price. The 2008 Conference promises to be another great event, centering on the theme taken from John 17, “The Power of a Peacemaking Church.” The featured speakers each have a contagious passion for Christ and the peace he brings, including Peacemaker Ministries’ president Ken Sande, pastor and author Thabiti Anyabwile, and seminary leader and missions authority Dr. Peter Kuzmic. Mark your calendar and join us in Orlando, Florida on September 25-27 for the peacemaking event of the year!
Testimony of the Month
Sometimes, there’s an amazing chain reaction of peacemaking when we are obedient to God’s call to reconciliation. Read the following testimony to discover how this truth is demonstrated.
“Our Sunday school class went through some peacemaker materials, and I was excited about this topic, because I work as a therapist in a psychiatric outpatient setting. I thought these principles would be very helpful to learn in order to help my clients with conflicts in their own lives. Little did I know, though, that God was planning to use this material in significant ways in my own heart and life. One Sunday, when Ken Sande came to my church to speak, I allowed my own heart to be searched, and God revealed three different broken relationships to me. God called me to go in obedience to each of the three women and confess my sins against them, acknowledge the hurt and damage I had caused to the relationships, ask for their forgiveness, and seek for the relationships to be reconciled.
“As I prepared to go to each of these women, God sovereignly opened doors and prepared each of their hearts to warmly receive me and to offer their forgiveness. I was so humbled and so blessed by each of their responses, but one particular friend’s response stands out to me. At the end of our lengthy conversation, she expressed interest in knowing the name and author of the book that I had been reading on peacemaking. As our conversation drew to a close, she said to me, ’I have been encouraged and convicted by the way you have approached me in handling our conflict. Would you be willing to help me and hold me accountable as I seek to read the book and to apply these principles to a broken friendship in my own life?’ And I responded, ’I’m not an expert by any means, but I would be more than willing to walk with you and help you in any way that I can!’
“This is such a wonderful example of how God graciously uses his Word to work in the lives of many people, and then he showers us all with the joy, peace, and blessing that come from submitting to his good and perfect will. All the glory, honor, and praise be to him. God is so good!”