Small Group Study
An eight-week study on biblical peacemaking especially for small groups. $99.00 more info
|Upcoming Event Schedule:
• February 8-9, Dallas, TX – Conflict Coaching Training
• February 7-9, Birmingham, AL – Conflict Coaching & Mediation• February 14, Phoenix, AZ Pastors Conference• February 29-March 1, Corvallis, OR Peacemaker Seminar• March 6-8, Bozeman, MT – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• March 6-8, Turlock, CA – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• March 13-15, Zimmerman, MN – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• March 27-29, Ripley, WV –Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• April 4-5, Sacramento, CA – Peacemaker Seminar
• April 5, Greensburg, IN – Peacemaker Seminar
• April 10-12, Salem, OR – Conflict Coaching & Mediation
• April 18-19, Dallas, TX – Mediation Only
• April 24-26, 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
More information, registration, or complete listing of upcoming events
Five Myths of Divorce
By Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker MinistriesI have noticed over the years that Christians who are in the process of seeking a divorce often use the same set of reasons to justify their decision to leave the marriage. I have heard the same excuses so often that I have wondered whether Satan has published a little booklet on how to justify divorce.
While Christians disagree about what constitutes legitimate grounds for divorce, it is clear that many Christians divorce for all the wrong reasons. We need people around us to speak truth to us and help us see our own blind spots so that we are not fooled by worldly wisdom or by the blindness in our own hearts. Perhaps you can play that role in the life of someone considering divorce. If you want to help them, you need to be prepared to respond to these excuses.
When the love has gone out of a marriage, it’s better to get divorced. Although this is the world talking, Christians buy into it. The basis of marriage is not feelings of love—in God’s design, commitment is the basis of marriage, and love is the fruit. For more on God’s design for marriage, see Paul Tripp’s booklet Marriage: Whose Dream?
It’s better for the children to go through a divorce than to live with parents who fight all the time. Although parents in a truly unhappy marriage may sincerely believe this, it is usually a superficial rationalization. One way to test their sincerity is to ask them to read Judith Wallerstein’s book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, which clearly articulates the many detrimental effects of divorce. If they still decide to go through with a divorce after reading these facts, they usually have to admit that it’s not the children they are looking out for, but their own selfish desires.
God led me to this divorce. I repeatedly hear people say, “I know the Bible teaches that divorce usually isn’t God’s will, but in this case God has given me a real peace that this is right.” This statement reveals an improper understanding of spiritual guidance, which elevates a sense of “inner peace” to such a level that it can overrule the clear teaching of Scripture itself. This view of guidance must be specifically exposed and refuted.
One way to do so is to help people see that a sense of inner peace is not a conclusive sign of God’s approval. I usually ask people whether they think Jesus felt inner peace in the Garden of Gethsemane. If they try to say yes, I take them to the Gospels and help them see that in fact he was trembling with apprehension and agony. If he had walked out the other side of the garden, he might have had a great sense of relief at escaping from the crucifixion, but in doing so he would have been turning his back on God’s will for his life. In a similar way, divorce may promise immediate relief, but in the long run, it too is usually contrary to the will of God.
Surely a loving God would not want someone to stay in such an unhappy situation. This myth is based on a humanistic presupposition that God’s purpose in life revolves around me and my happiness. It is crucial to help suffering people understand that God has something far more important in mind for his people than pleasant lives. His purpose is to conform us to the likeness of his Son (Rom. 8:28-29). The Bible teaches that this requires pruning, melting, and purifying to burn away the dross in our lives, and this is often done through the furnace of suffering. Take them to Hebrews 11 or 1 Peter. The Bible contains many passages about the value and purpose of suffering. We can use those Scriptures to encourage people in their painful situations. For a good perspective on suffering, see Paul Tripp’s booklet Suffering: Eternity Makes a Difference.
I know it’s wrong, but God is forgiving. You have probably heard this sort of statement from many different people. Its antidote is Deuteronomy 29:19-21, where Moses warns the Israelites sternly (my paraphrase), “If you presume that you can sin deliberately and then just say magic words and God will forgive you, how great will his wrath be upon you!” It is a frightful thing to sin deliberately. Point people to the example of King David, who willfully sinned against God. God forgave David, but he left consequences that would grieve David for the rest of his life. “The sword will never depart from your house” (2 Sam. 12:10, NIV). David’s baby died, and his sons continued to kill each other. David had to bear that on his conscience to his dying day.
And how do people know that God will actually give them a repentant heart after they persist in willful disobedience (see Heb. 3:7-13; 12:16-17; Eph. 4:30; Prov. 28:14)? How can they be sure that God will not turn his face against them and remove his blessings from their lives (Heb. 10:31; 1 Pet. 3:7, 11-12)? Those considering a sinful divorce should not look ahead to a cheap forgiveness, but should turn around and do everything possible to seek reconciliation and a restoration of the marriage.
If you are a Christian who wants to be “salt and light” for the Lord, God will give you opportunities to graciously speak his truth into other Christians’ lives. Understanding these excuses used to justify divorce will help you deal directly, lovingly, and biblically with people who are struggling. By God’s grace, when true motives are revealed, people will then turn back to the Lord and his church for help.
This article (reprinted in full online) is based on a portion of the chapter entitled, “Church Discipline: God’s Tool to Heal and Restore Marriages,” written by Ken Sande. This chapter is included in the book Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood.
In the News…
Imagine the pain of having your two teenage daughters senselessly murdered by a total stranger while walking into church one Sunday morning. Then imagine what it would like to be the parents who learn that their son is the one responsible. Here are four people, numbed by the tragedy, mourning the loss of their children, trying to come to grips with it all, and forever linked together by these circumstances.
The tragic shooting in Colorado last December left us all shocked and saddened at the level of violence that even reaches inside of churches. There’s no doubt that it was a heartbreaking situation for all involved. Yet even through all the suffering, these four parents have reached out to one another in forgiveness and reconciliation. The pastor at New Life Church calls it “the highlight of his ministry” and noted that it made him evaluate his own life and think, “Is there anyone I’m not forgiving?”
That’s a good question for all of us to consider.
2008 Peacemaker Conference
The 2008 Conference promises to be another great event, centering on the theme, “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, seminary leader and missions authority Dr. Peter Kuzmic, and pastor John Stumbo. Mark your calendar and join us in Orlando, Florida on September 25-27 for the peacemaking event of the year! Register before March 31 for a reduced price. Bring a group and save even more—for every four people you bring, the fifth is free!
Testimony of the Month
Sometimes, even if you think you have an understanding of forgiveness, God will bring a situation to you that requires you to deepen that understanding as you live it out. Read the following testimony to discover how this truth is demonstrated.
Our church last year went through the Peacemaker DVD series. I thought I knew a lot about what the Word teaches about forgiveness…
Once we began to study and learned about some key skills in forgiveness, I began to search my heart for possible unforgiveness in my life. I realized I was still holding hurts from a very tense experience with a family member. They left our church and in turn spoke very negatively toward my husband and me. It was hard to forgive, but I determined I would not be in bondage to unforgiveness. God has forgiven me of my sins so how could I not forgive another? I forgave and in turn my husband has allowed God’s healing touch on his heart, too. I felt such a powerful peace after I forgave. We later took in this family member’s child and helped out in a way I never imagined we would. We began to see the full picture of this family member’s struggles and we have prayed continuously together with her daughter and we trust God to bring complete healing in due time. The answers and solutions are not fully accomplished, but God will bless and finish the full circle of forgiveness in His time.
Thanks for helping us see ourselves in God’s Word as we are and we strive toward what He wishes us to become!