The Olympic Games symbolize a world of cultures coming together in peaceful assembly to compete. Even as news of bombings and terrorists threaten to dampen the spirit of peace, the Games will continue to bring the world together, winning the peace. Why? Because there is a higher purpose which prevails over lesser conflicts.
while the Games bring peace for a few weeks, we all have conflicts to resolve at home, at work and in our relationships. Winning the peace is absolutely important to God. Jesus is even named the “Prince of Peace” and peace is a fruit of the Spirit of God that blossoms when we are following God’s ways. Peace is mentioned in the Bible more than 200 times, often used as a greeting and instruction. For example:
- “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” -- Psalm 34:14
- “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” -- Romans 14:19
Jesus said in John 13:35 that “...Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So, we have a mandate to win peace and show love. Remember, God allows disagreement to provide the necessary pressure required to develop our character and grow us up. There is a purpose behind conflict and pressure.
God knows conflict is inevitable. But He also knows destruction resulting from conflict is optional.
It’s always easier said than done, right? The enemy also uses conflict and lies to confuse our minds, and too often we say things we don’t mean, and speak before we think. Wars have started and ended with words. So how do we defuse the bombs that blow up relationships?
As we move through the new year, here are a few guidelines for how to resolve conflict, win peace and find God's desire in disagreement. But first, we have to assume:
Both people, or parties, must want peace between them. If one person would rather fight to be right, or just fight, rather than find a resolution, then it’s impossible to move forward.
With more than 1.11 billion users, Facebook has become a staple in today’s modern culture, a revolutionary social and marketing tool, massive industry with its own vernacular. Let me add a new phrase, the “Facebook Fumble”. This is one with devastating repercussions.
By nature, Facebook was designed to connect with old and new “Friends.” It’s like having a high school reunion online, anytime. You can “Like” people, photos, comments and corporate brands and receive regular “Posts” on your “Wall.” You can create “Groups” of individuals with similar interests. You can also “stalk” others from a virtual distance by viewing photographs, comments of others.
Facebook is so ingrained into our society it’s even one of the fastest ways to spread news, outrunning the television and media outlets to breaking events. These days, people wake up to the morning cup of jo and read their Facebook before other news sources.
I call it the “Facebook Fumble” because more than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word “Facebook,” according to a survey by Divorce Online, a UK-based legal services firm. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81% of its members have used or faced evidence plucked from Facebook or other social networking sites over the last five years. And, 66% of the lawyers surveyed cited Facebook foibles as the source of online evidence with 1 in 5 adults reported to use Facebook for flirting.
Facebook is one ball you don’t want to drop. It can bring you down. It can ruin the “trust” in a marriage, and lead to affairs -- virtual or physical.
Here’s the rub: While Facebook is a great social networking tool -- and one I’m involved with -- it has the power to expose the cracks in men’s character.
Tips to Avoid the Facebook Fumble
King Leonidas (the famous Spartan leader of the “300” who defended Greece against the Persian invasion at Thermopylae) has got nothing on Abram who was called on by God to face an overwhelming and daunting assault by evil upon his family and region. This story sizzles. It reads like a Hollywood script but its biblical history is recorded for our benefit if we have the courage to apply it as a model and pattern of leadership put there by God. Without delay, let’s roll the film and deconstruct some lessons that are powerful for us as pastors as we battle against evil in our cities.
The four evil kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his own household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and other people.” Genesis 14:14-16 NIV
Abraham’s reaction to the news that four evil leaders had ransacked his nephew’s city, looted its goods, and enslaved its citizens is, by all accounts, Spartanesque. The bad guys had no idea Lot had an uncle who could rain thunder and strike with lightning force with a mere “318.” A night time raid. A precision attack. A dominating physical performance. Wow. All men who love their families, love justice, and love against all odds love this one. Hoo-rah, Go Abraham! But could it be that this account is here for more than a biblical high-five?
While holidays provide times to thank God, and celebrate Christ’s birth, so often we get caught up in the familiar patterns we’ve always followed. Turkeys, trees, trimmings. Cookies, cakes and gaining weight. That’s all ok. But I think many men just show up, instead of getting involved and taking the lead.
We all have holiday family traditions. Some are handed down, others are created by accident. Some traditions we’d rather never happened. But I think God’s man can play a greater role. What if we intentionally created a new tradition(s) that honored God and others -- and was fun to boot?
Here are a couple of traditions in the Luck family:
- We “Ding-Dong-Ditch” a single mom. That’s right, we ring the doorbell and run but not after leaving presents on her porch for her and each child that are age and gender specific. This combines dangerousness with goodness. My favorite Holiday giving moment. We save change all year, count it, go to the bank, get dollars, and my kids go shopping for others. Me and my son Ryan are NAVY SEALS on delivery, insertion, and extraction. HUGE fun.
- We keep a Christmas journal. There’s a picture each year, stories of presents, the names we have given our two Christmas trees, and other specific info related to that year’s X-mas festivities and happenings. It is a precious little book and my son has taken it on to be the family scribe with HONOR.
Holidays have treasured moments waiting to be opened, and I’m not talking about gifts wrapped under a tree. I’m talking about memories. Memories of togetherness, moments with meaning, memories that last. Let me encourage you to think and pray about trying something new this year. You don’t have to announce to the family, “We’re starting a new tradition.” As Nike would say, just do it.
Here are a few ideas for new traditions that honor God and others.
10 New Traditions Ideas:
I applaud broadcaster Craig James for airing his Christian view of marriage on national news. Unfortunately, his employer, Fox Sports didn’t share my praise, firing him immediately. Although this seems unfair, the fact is God’s men must expect persecution.
Although in the US, we don’t often see, hear or experience persecution because of our faith, Christians suffer around the world for believing in, and following, Jesus. Take a glance at www.persecution.org, and you’ll see examples daily.
Our enemy has tried to sabotage God’s plan from day one. Christians share a faith of love and hope, yet the world would rather trump that message with a self-absorbed, hedonistic, “you only live once” religion that accommodates everyone with a bland, empty faith. Instead of turning to God, the world wants to push Him away and punish those who follow His loving teaching.
It’s a weird irony, nevertheless, the Bible warns Christians several times to expect hard times.
In 2 Timothy 3:12 we read, “...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
In John 16:33 Jesus says point-blank “...In this world you will have trouble.” And, in the second half the verse, he gives God’s men the key to persevering under persecution, saying “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I believe God’s man will increasingly experience persecution. Here are a few tips on how to persevere: