Peacemaking for Warmongers

The PeacemakerOne of the books I wish I’d read at the beginning of my ministry is The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. It is subtitled “A Biblical Guide To Resolving Personal Conflict” and if I’d known about it twenty years ago, it would have saved me a lot of trouble. I now make it a required text for my students and also recently decided to begin my new pastoral ministry by studying it with my congregation in the Adult Sunday School Class.

Why a priority?
Why make such a book a priority at the beginning of my ministry? First, because conflict will eventually and inevitably arise in every church; and the way we respond to it will make or break the church.

Second, it’s also a “pre-emptive” strike, trying to get ahead of any trouble, so that we have a pattern and model for handling conflict that we can use to keep one another accountable.

And third, it’s to re-teach myself. I was brought up in a large city, Glasgow, and attended large public schools where I learned the infamous Glasgow way of handling conflict – blunt fists or sharp tongues. Not having much in the pecs and biceps department I became quite skilled with the only muscle at my disposal – a sharp, quick, and aggressive tongue.

Tamed but Temptable
Though now considerably tamed by grace, my aggressive, confrontational Glaswegian nature has often resurrected and erupted, damaging myself and others in the process.

On the other hand, aware of my weaknesses in that area, I’ve sometimes over-compensated by avoiding dealing with issues, fearing that I will end up making things worse.

That’s why I need to read Sande again and again, in order to be constantly delivered from my “natural” sinful instincts and to seek spiritual and God-glorifying ways of responding to conflict.

My study guide handout for the introduction and chapter one is here, but I began the class with a general mixture of my own and Sande’s thoughts on conflict and peacemaking.

 Conflict is:

  • Inevitable: It comes into the best of relationships.
  • Helpful: Not all conflict is bad as different perspectives can stimulate productive dialogue, encourage creativity, and promote helpful change.
  • Surprising: Sometimes it comes at the most unexpected times from the most unpredictable of people.
  • Damaging: Conflict can damage relationships but also mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health.
  • Revealing: It brings out the worst in us and exposes our hearts to ourselves and others.
  • An opportunity: To learn how to manage oneself in stressful situations and to teach others how to handle conflict.

Peacemaking is:

  • Difficult: hard work, goes against our grain.
  • Obligatory: Not an option for Christians.
  • Hopeful: Can produce even better relationships than what was there before.
  • Rare: Uncommon both in the world and the church, therefore opportunity for countercultural witness.
  • Healing: restores relationships, improves health.
  • Dependent: We need the Holy Spirit in us and in others.
  • Modeled: Christ is our model and motivation for peacemaking.
  • Conscience-satisfying: even if other person does not respond, we can enjoy the freedom of knowing we tried everything possible to resolve the issue.

Why not get the book and read along with us? I’ll aim to publish the handout here each Monday. It will basically be a summary outline of the chapter with some of my own thoughts thrown in. I’ll highlight what I think are the most important sections and sometimes re-arrange the order. Next week we’ll be looking at chapter 2.

Check out

Walk Like a Pilgrim
Tim Challies and Joel Beeke team up to read a major part of A Puritan Theology. And congratulations to Tim on a fantastic website re-design. I love it.

8 Ways You Might Be Losing People in Your Sermons
“After listening to thousands of sermons and preaching quite a few myself, I have learned 8 different ways that pastors lose people in their sermons.”

The Blessing of The Third Use of The Law
R. C. Sproul Jr. addresses Calvin’s controversial idea of the law showing Christians how to live in a way that pleases God.

Our People Die Well
Phillip Jensen reviews the lives and deaths of some dear Christian friends who recently went to be with the Lord.

Syllabus Shock
Alex Chediak helps freshmen overcome this common affliction.

One Easy Thing All White People Could Do To Make The World A Better Place


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Here’s this week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament

Jesus On Every Page Podcast: Noah’s Ark

Link to Jesus On Every Page Podcast

Many people have asked me to help them take the next step from the principles of interpretation that are outlined in Jesus On Every Page to the actual practice of seeing and enjoying Christ in particular Old Testament passages.

I figured the best way to do that was a regular podcast that would not only focus on particular Old Testament passages, but also highlight the best resources on this popular subject (books, blog posts, lectures, sermons, etc). The podcast format also allows some interactivity where listeners can leave questions and comments on the blog or via the new voicemail feature on the right, and I’ll follow up on them in subsequent podcasts. I hope to also host some interviews with various Old Testament teachers and writers.

The podcasts will be hosted at and also at the Jesus On Every Page Podcast archive. The best way to ensure that you don’t miss a podcast is to subscribe to the blog by email on the right side of this page. The first podcast timeline is as follows:

1:32 Quote of the week

2:31 Book of the Week

3:48 Lecture of the week

4:57 Blog of the Week

7.16 Question of the Week

9:09 Noah’s ark and the cross of Christ

Podcast References

Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament by Christopher Wright.

Go to iTunes and search for “Dr Richard Gaffin Christ in the Old Testament in Luke 24″ or click here.

Exodus 19:4-6 at Mathias Media.

Check out

Join Us On The Front Porch
This looks like a great new website that’s been launched to host conversations about biblical faithfulness in African American Churches and beyond. You can read more about it here.

Upcoming Book: United – Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity
This is a book I’m impatient to read. Watch out for it.

Busyness Goes After Everyone’s Joy
“Busyness is like sin: kill it, or it will be killing you.”

Philosophy is More Fun With Pictures
This is funny and helpful.

What is Truth?
Jeremy Walker reports on an evangelistic survey of an English village he’s been evangelizing. The results are a huge cause for concern and for prayer.

How to Mourn With The Parents of Stillborn and Miscarried Children
“Our baby, our second daughter, was taken from us before we ever had the chance to know her.”

Clothes That Increase Our Holiness

According to researchers, you can make yourself more brainy by wearing the right kind of clothes. We’re all familiar with the concept of power dressing, where wearing a smart suit and tie or a uniform can suddenly make you feel more confident and decisive. But brainy dressing?

Well, a recent study discovered that when people were given a white coat to wear, they made 50% less mistakes in tests than people in ordinary clothes. When both groups were dressed in white coats but one group were told they were wearing a painter’s overall whereas the others were told they were wearing a doctor’s coat, the “doctors” again excelled the “painters” in mental challenges.

Spiritual Dressing
If physical clothes can produce such an improvement in confidence and performance, how much more should spiritual clothes? The Bible tells us that Christians are permanently clothed with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (Isa. 61:10; Gal .3:27).

That means that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our ragged lives, but rather he sees us clothed with Christ’s perfect life. The more we believe that, and keep believing that, the greater will be our spiritual confidence and our spiritual “performance.”

May God give us preachers who strip off our rags of self-righteousness and who help us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 14:14).