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Posts Tagged ‘peacemaker

[Part 3 of 3]

As we left off last time, I was positing that we could have Jesus’ peace the same way He achieved peace.  The key to achieving it lies in understanding:

The world’s peace is the ‘absence of conflict.’  God’s peace is perspective in the midst of conflict.

The ‘perspective’ I am talking about is the way of realizing and acknowledging that:

  1. God is fully in control,
  2. God is fully able to accomplish everything He wants to accomplish, and
  3. this same sovereign, omnipotent God loves you and has the best ever plan for you!

It is a perspective that flows from truths such as;

  • “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)
  • “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 1:6)
  • It’s the perspective that you are only here for a little while longer, and then Heaven forever:   “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14b)

[Side Road:  Where do you find the perspective that leads to peace?  i) Studying the Bible, ii) the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you, iii) investing in prayer, and iv) hearing testimonies of those who have gone before you . . . but all that is another blog for another day . . . .]

Get it?  If not, stop here and meditate on this:  God’s peace is perspective in the midst of conflict.  It was never the plan that Jesus would bring worldly peace on this earth with His incarnation.  (“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division . . . .” Luke 12:51)  It was, however, His idea to leave you in the midst of the conflict with “His peace.”   (“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”  John 14:27)

Let me try to illustrate this point this way:  What are you going through today that is robbing you of peace?  (Finances?  Health?  Relationships? Name it to yourself or write it down.)  Now, use your imagination with me a little:  If Jesus walked in and said to you — right this moment, while you are on the computer:  “I know that thing you are going through is tough, but – now don’t tell anyone – I’m coming back in a few hours . . . and that problem will be gone forever.”  Then He continued:  “Can you hang on a couple more hours?”

You’d say:  “Yes, Lord, I can certainly trust you for a couple hours!

Jesus:  “Could you for those two hours have peace, even though your problem was still there?

You:  “Absolutely!  Knowing what I know now, I could have peace because I’d know the problem was only temporary!

Jesus:  “How about a couple days?

You:  “Well, the two hour plan was better, but, sure, two days?  I can do that as long as I know the plan!

Jesus:  “If I told you there were some things I’d like for you to do before you go, things that would really mean a lot to me, could you hold out for longer . . . say a couple of years?

You:  “Um, years?  Wait a minute, sure, I mean, I can probably do that.  Little harder, but yeah, pretty sure.  I’ll get a two year calendar out and mark off the days every evening and as long as I know the exact date then I’ll be able to do it.

Jesus:  “Can you trust Me if I don’t tell you the exact date?

You:  “Um . . . .

Jesus:  “Can you trust Me if I don’t tell you even the approximate date?

Brothers and sisters, that’s where we’re at.  It is the same promise by the same omnimpotent God:  It just doesn’t have a set calendar date for your Blackberry!  If you can just keep this perspective, though, I can assure you that you will have His peace.  Let me leave you with some Scripture and a prayer — and this may be the most important section of this three-part blog:

These are Jesus’ words to his disciples toward the end of His ministry (as found starting in John 14 proceeding through 16, selected verses):

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe  also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.   If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also . . . .  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you . . . .  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.  You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’   Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.   I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here . . . .  These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Let’s pray:

Lord God, You are in control.  You are able to accomplish exactly what you want.  You want the very best for us – Your plans for us are better than our own.  We are only here for a little while, and then we’ll be with You forever.  We know we’ll have tribulation here during our short stay, but we believe You when You say You’re coming back to bring us home, to resolve every conflict, to wipe away every tear, to heal every wound, to meet every need.  Help us to keep this perspective every moment of our lives, that we may know Your joy, that we may know Your Peace, and we pray, as You promised in Phil 4:7, that the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

Shalom aleichem,

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

[Part 2 of 3]

When we left off, we were considering how strange it was (to me at least) that our Holy God, while incarnate on the depraved earth, could have ‘peace’ and want us to have that same peace — ‘His peace’ — as well.  I asked you to think about what it was in your own life right now that was keeping you from ‘peace.’  (Remember it?  Good, hold on to it a bit longer.)  As we pick up today, we need to start with the question:  What is ‘peace’?

Peace is a central concept in the Scriptures.  The words translated as ‘peace’ in the Old and New Testaments appear more than 360 times.  I found that I was able to group or categorize most of them as follows.

  • Many were used as greetings or farewells:
    • Peace to you!
    • Peace be with you!
    • Go in Peace!
  • They were used as part of benedictions:
    • The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.  (Num 6:26)
    • Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!  (2 Thess 3:16)
  • Peace was to be sought after:
    • Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.  (Ps 34:14)
  • Jesus is specifically identified with peace:
    • For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isa 9:6)
    • There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, (Isa 9:7)
    • [F]or God is not a God of confusion but of peace . . . . (1 Cor 14:33)
  • But peace is very elusive on earth.  The Old Testament in particular makes this clear:
    • They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.  (Jer 6:14)
    • They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.  (Jer 8:11)
    • When anguish comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none.  (Ezek 7:25)
    • It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace.  (Ezek 13:10)
    • ‘. . . along with the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’ declares the Lord God.  (Ezek 13:16)
    • Too long has my soul had its dwelling With those who hate peace.  I am for peace, but when I speak, They are for war.  (Ps 120:6-7)

So, we know a little better what the Bible says about peace, but the question remains:  How can we have peace when we have conflict?  (. . . when we have unmet needs?  . . . when we don’t know how we’re going to pay the bills?  . . . when we don’t know what to do with what the doctor just told us?  . . . when we have sin in our lives that keeps showing up . . . again?)

How do we have peace like Jesus had peace?  How do we have “His peace”?

Answer: The same way Jesus found His peace.  How is that?  Well, that would be in the third (and final) blog on peace (I promise).

Shalom aleichem,

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

[Part 1 of 3]

A friend of mine, Robert Barron, recently led an excellent devotional at a Board of Directors meeting for Sheridan House Family Ministries.  One of the points he made struck me anew even as he was making it:  Robert was explaining that Jesus wanted us to have not just joy, but His joy.

His joy?”  I thought.  How could Jesus – the All Holy One, the Sinless Savior – describe His time on the earth – the fallen, groaning, sinful earth – with a word anything like “joy”?  Do we really understand the vast separation between the holiness of Jesus and the depravity of man?  I’ll answer that one for you:  NO.

Being finite, fallen creatures, we are not able to comprehend the extreme holiness of God.  The best we can do (if we close our eyes tightly, cover our ears, and strain our brains) is think of someone who is a whole lot better than ourselves.

If we cannot fully comprehend the holiness of God, can we at least comprehend the depravity of man?  Well, even though we start out closer to the goal, we still cannot really comprehend it to even a reasonable degree.  Remember, except for the sin that is in our own hearts (which we fancy to be not as bad as the sin in others . . .), we typically can only see the effects of sin.  Even then, we can only see a fraction of the effects of sin as we happen to witness them ourselves (or hear about them on the news, etc.).  Jesus, on the other hand, sees not just the all of the effects of sin, but as God He actually knows men’s hearts  — in other words, He sees the sin itself.  What, then, does God know about men’s hearts?  Well, He knows that they are more deceitful than all else and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9) for starters.

So I move the previous question:  How can Jesus, who is more holy than we can comprehend, while living with more sin than we can comprehend, describe anything about His incarnation with the word “joy”?

Suppose you got up from your computer right now and walked outside to the nearest septic tank or sewer and jumped right in.  (Got that visual now?)  Do you understand that that doesn’t even compare to Christ leaving heaven in the incarnation?  Now, while you still have that sewage scene in your mind, picture yourself barely floating, up to your neck in . . . it, and calling your friend on the cell phone saying “Boy, I wish you had ‘my joy’ right now!”

Right after that thought, I began to recall that Jesus not only wanted us to have ‘His joy,’ but also ‘His peace.’  (John 14:27)  Peace?  Seriously?  Here?  Now?

As a Christian litigator and mediator, my thoughts about peace on this planet were more like:

“[They cry out] saying ’Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace!” (Jer. 6:14)

“Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace.” (Ps. 120:6)

or

“I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!” (Ps. 120:7)

So then, whence cometh this Peace of our Lord?  Well, that answer would be in the next two blogs . . . .

In the meantime, think about what is in your life right now that is keeping you from peace.  You’ll need that thought for later.

Until then, Shalom,

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

One of the biggest challenges I have as a Christian mediator is to get people to put things in perspective.  Oftentimes, by the time the parties have come to me, their controversy has seemingly eclipsed everything else in their lives.  I have a lot to say about perspective (and at least two more blogs on that in progress already), but today I want to focus on a single phrase you’ve probably never heard before:  Prospective Retrospect.

History and Definition. I first used the phrase “Prospective Retrospect” in my law practice in the late 1980’s.  I was in the middle of counseling a client in my office about a decision presently before him and I was trying to make the point that he needed to look forward into the future and consider how he would one day look back on this decision that he was considering today.  When I heard myself say the phrase, I thought it was rather (accidentally) poetic and I made a “note to self” to consider the phrase further after the meeting.  I have since that time used it many times with others – and with myself as well.[1]

Thoughts. With that history in mind, I give you six thoughts on the usefulness in your own life of “Prospective Retrospect.”

1.  When. My first thought is that we should almost[2] always consciously live our lives in Prospective Retrospect.  In other words, let me suggest that you should almost always make your decisions by looking forward into the future and considering how you will one day look back on the decisions that you are considering today.

2.  Is it Biblical? Over the years, I have decided that the concept is very Biblical, though the exact phrase is not literally present in the Scriptures.  It is implicitly present, however, in several Biblical principles (such as stewardship).  In the end – that is to say at my end – I want God to look back at my life and say “Well Done!”  I am even now looking forward to the future when I want to hear Him say “You were faithful in the past with a little, and now I am presently putting you in charge of even more.”  (cf. Matt. 25:21)

3.  Denying Oneself. I suspect the most common (and least appealing?) manifestation of using this concept will be in the denying of immediate gratification.  The Prospective Retrospect is, after all, a “long term” or “long range” perspective.  It requires that we forgo things we want now because of the desired benefit later.  It may sometimes sound like:  “I’m gonna wish I wouldn’t have spent that, bought that, said that, ate that, fell for that, watched that, listened to that, clicked on that, dated that, tattooed that, etc.

4.  In the light of eternity. To encourage someone to live with Prospective Retrospect is very similar to saying one needs to live his life understanding that his present decisions may well have consequences that are literally eternal.  I remember listening to a professor (R.C. Sproul[3]) in seminary explain the importance of living our lives sub specie aeternitatis – “under the aspect of eternity.”  This thought has many Biblical facets (e.g., it carries with it the idea that our lives are very brief, a “vapor” Phil. 4:14) which are parallel to my thoughts on Prospective Retrospect.

5.  NOT! What Prospective Retrospect is not is seen in the bumper sticker I like:  “Someday we’ll look back on this, laugh nervously, and change the subject!”  The whole point is to be able to look back – even way back – and rejoice!

6.  Application to Christian Mediation. This concept drives a lot of what I do at ControlAltDispute.com.  In the “business” of reconciling and restoring, it is very powerful to be able to have the parties each see their own situations from an eternal perspective.  The wrongs that we perceive and the rights that we demand take on a different quality when we consider how we will look back on them from a mansion in eternity.  Will we not blush at some of what we thought was SO important at the moment?  Do you want to sit there with your friends in Heaven watching an episode on the History Channel (on Bob Barnes’ posited heavenly IMAX screen) about the time when you demanded your rights regarding . . . (you-know-what)?  [Insert emoticon for “cringing” here.]

So what do you think about Prospective Retrospect? (Or, more importantly, someday in the future, how will you look back on what you think about it today?)

  • What is it today that you are considering that will have long-term (even eternal) consequences?
  • With a Prospective Retrospect, how will you now choose to act?
  • Are you storing up for yourself where moth and rust will not destroy?  (Matt. 6:19)

Live it.

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

____________________________________________

Footnotes.

[1]Many years ago, as Internet search engines such as Yahoo! (and later Google) were coming on the scene, I used these search engines to determine if this phrase had ever been “coined” before.  Initially, I could not find the phrase anywhere (which made me quite pleased with myself, truth be known).  Later, however, it would show up from time to time in an obscure context.  (Even so, by January of 2009, there were only about ten references, most all of them referring to the same four books listed on Amazon.com.)

[2] I have to say “almost” because (1) “always” by itself just seems too much for a mere man to insist upon and (2) it presently strikes me as neurotic to be so obsessed with any single perspective every waking moment so I must leave room for another . . . at least sometimes.

[3]Of course, in my further research on this topic, I find that Sproul at one point seems to gut my admonition to try to see things from an eternal perspective by noting that we are finite and do not even have the ability to see things from an eternal perspective!

“An important slogan in theology is finitum non capax infiniti.  This means that “the finite cannot grasp the infinite.”  The limit of our comprehension is the earthly perspective.  We do not have the ability to see things sub specie aeternitatis – ‘from the eternal perspective.’”

Stubbornly perhaps, I am going to resolve the tension between his quotation and my admonition by noting that it is still laudable to try to see things from this perspective, even if it cannot be done perfectly.  (There are certainly parallels to attempting things which cannot be completed perfectly such as the command to be holy as God is holy.)  I am confident that he would approve of my resolution (noting that Sproul often uses the phrase “right now counts forever!”).

In the end, there will be resolution for everything.  It is comforting for the Christian to know that when Jesus comes back, He will bring with Him resolution.  (The book of Revelation, if you think about it, could almost have been called Resolution instead.)  Given the vast amount of controversy in life, this is really a shocking statement.  Can you even imagine total resolution?

I had a funny picture in my mind when I was thinking about this recently.  I was thinking about how diverse my Christian friends are on so many “intramural” (i.e., non-fundamental) Christian issues.  I personally tend towards a very “reformed” theological perspective, but I have some close friends who are doctrinally just this side of “Whoopee!”

For some reason, I began to think about baptism and how when we all get to heaven, God might say to the crowd during orientation (Hey, don’t be critical, it’s my daydream and I say there’s going to be orientation . . . .): 

God [to crowd]:  “Okay, what I’ve decided to do is not just to bestow a ton of perfect knowledge on you all at once, but to let you all learn things gradually.  So, for starters, just to sort of break the ice, I want everyone to line up on this long line here according to your views on what you think I meant about baptism.  Let’s do it by “quantity of water,” so all you full-immersers over here to my left and you sprinklers to my right.  Pourers and semi-dunkers can find your appropriate place in the middle as you best determine.” 

Representatives of the major denominations would all be there, toes at the perfect place on the line, just waiting for God to pick their group and their place on the line, thereby declaring them the winners and justifying their earthly positions.  “Yes!” they muse to themselves, “Vindication at last!”  Similarly some non-denominationals and independents would be scattered at various points along the line waiting for God to justify their views and their places on the line.  Then God would say:  “OK, ready?

So what do you think happened next?  Do you think God picked your viewpoint?

Well, here’s what really happened (remember, it is my daydream):  The Father looked at us all with big eyes (the kind a story-teller uses when he is about to announce the hero’s entrance), then He glanced at the Son (with the “should I tell ‘em?” look), and then, from behind them both, I heard the Holy Spirit . . . snicker.  It was muffled at first, but it quickly spread throughout the Trinity to full-blown laughter! 

After a while, but not a long while, all of us on the line looked to our lefts and rights, and somehow we all instantly felt ridiculous with our toes so “perfectly” placed on a line and we began to laugh too.  Now you know how contagious laughter can be here on earth?  Well in heaven, that is multiplied sevenfold!  We laughed so hard we cried.  Baptists were slapping Methodists on the back; Presbyterians were hugging non-denoms.  We kept on this way for a quite some time and then just naturally found ourselves – still laughing – gathered around the Throne.  (I looked back at one point to see if anyone was still on the line, but no one was; or more accurately I think, there was no more line.)

Somehow our laughter morphed into worship at the Throne.  It was hard to say when one ended and the other started . . . or maybe they didn’t.  Choirs and praise bands from various (and I do mean various) earthly congregations were leading the service and it was a wonderful time:  The best, actually.  Next thing I know, the Father stopped us and said:  “Who wants to see something really cool I created that none of you have seen yet?!”  He (nearly) leapt off the Throne and we, of course, all followed right behind Him trying to match His pace . . . .

That was pretty much the end of my daydream.  Now some of you are wondering “Yeah, but who did God say was right about baptism?”  Well, all I can say is that you wouldn’t have asked that question if you had been there.

There’s going to be resolution someday . . . on all issues.  Why not avoid the rush?  Seek resolution now and start with something important.  (C’mon, you know the particular situation in your life that I’m talking about . . . .)  “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9).  “Insofar as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). 

You can do it!

–M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

Welcome to ControlAltDispute’s Blog!  For those of you who don’t know, ControlAltDispute is a Christian alternative dispute service.  We seek to serve as facilitators of resolution and restoration, as well as to serve as judges of controversies between confessing Christians, primarily through legally binding mediation and arbitration.  (Visit us at www.ControlAltDispute.com to learn more about us.)

In this blog, we will be writing on and discussing various topics relating to controversies, resolution, restoration, and reconciliation – mostly from a Christian perspective.  We will be focusing on areas where we think there is insufficient information – or even misinformation – available on the Internet.  (Searches for “Christian Mediation Blog” and “Christian Alternative Dispute Blog” came back with no substantive hits.)

I’m also working on the assumption that you are at least a little like me with too much email to read already, so I promise that we will not be twittering or Facebooking about our favorite restaurants, last vacations, pictures of our pets, etc., in this blog – this will be strictly substantive content and I am aiming for different topics every week or two.  We have some topics already picked out and some articles already written (including some controversial ones), but we will try to be guided by your questions and comments, so jump on in!

What’s next?  Well, the first thing you ought to do is subscribe.  It’s fast, easy, and free:  Just click on “Subscribe” (at the top of the menu on the right of this page) to get notices by email or if you don’t want to use email, you can use the RSS feed (see the two links at the very upper right of this page).  Of course, you can unsubscribe any time just as easily.

Finally, let me just say that this blog is not just for — or even primarily for — lawyers or even businessmen.  It is for Christians who are interested in resolving controversies, restoring relationships, and generally conducting themselves in life so as to be a “fragrant aroma” . . . not the other kind!

Blessings!

-M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire


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