January 11, 2021
"For to us a child is born; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE." Isaiah 9:6
Several years ago I went for training in the mountains of beautiful Colorado with John Denver. Wow! Really? (No... you are so gullible at times.). I meant with another gentleman named John, outside of Denver. I was training, over a course of three years in "peacemaking" from a Biblical perspective with PEACEMAKERS, a widely recognized, international organization that has been involved with all major denominations, the Billy Graham Team, and many para-church ministries.
Anyone who knows me well; knows I am not an overly emotional/reactionary person. At heart I am a peacemaker, majoring in joy! But this writing I warn you ahead of time, comes from the seat of some emotion with a strong sense of devotion to the life and my continued understanding of Jesus Christ.
"Emotion without devotion will lead to commotion."
I am upset, mad, disappointed and saddened by what has taken place in our world lately. It is unsettling to witness such a divided and visceral discourse in our nation. Sadder still, to see the unnecessary and inexcusable violence that has resulted in the loss of lives.
So lets address the "elephant in the room" - Where is the Church? And what is it's role in all of this?
It's NOT to carry out our own political persuasions or opinions as if they’re gospel. Because heaven knows we don't all agree regarding these. It's NOT to point the finger to accuse/slander another. And it is NOT a time to put our head in the sand and just ignore, accept or excuse the behaviors and attitudes that we see. I am not talking to, or just about the world...but also to those disruptive, dividing, behaviors and attitudes that are showing up in the lives of our churches. WHAT?? Aren't we all Christians who love and treat others with kindness, humility and respect? You don’t want me to answer that.
For almost 30 years I have been privileged to share "Peacemaker" in many of our churches. Whether it was in the early Church or just yesterday... conflict, tension, angst and anger has reared its ugly heat more often than we’d like to admit. The issues that disrupt, agitate, destroy relationships and divide humanity from one another is an issue of the heart and soul. And sadly it often seems the enemy of our souls has the upper hand. BUT, we also know, while the enemy may be claiming ground in this war...eventually Our God Reigns!
Let's be honest, most of us don’t like confrontation/conflict. So, we often ignore it or just sweep it under the rug...for years; which does nothing to resolve the issues or deal with people involved. The result is often divided churches that split; and almost always...broken relationships. Some of us know exactly what I’m talking about.
But did you know (I sure hope so). There is a Biblical way to effectively deal with conflict, difference of opinions and difficult people. And the end result can bring healing and glory to God. But wait...Spoiler Alert! He looks to use you/me in the process of "peacemaking." And it happens, when in the midst of all the chaos; we submit our lives to the Prince of Peace, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Word, to actively live in our hearts and lives.
Today, now more than ever, we need peacemakers. Agents of reconciliation. People of courage and compassion, who will step into the "great divide" that splits churches and people from one another. The Church is to proclaim the truth of the gospel, the life, and example of Jesus Christ. The gospel is NOT based on yours or mine opinion, (fact is He never asked for it!) The gospel brings peace. It does not create barriers. It brings us together in right relationship with God and one another. His Word, His example alone are our standard for our conduct and living. If you're living any other way...may I suggest you examine the Scriptures and life of Christ.
We are here to help. If you are willing to build a "culture of peace" in your church, that reflects Gods peace and the power of the gospel of Christ in our lives; responding in a way to conflict that will honor God, promote justice, reconcile relationships and be a powerful witness for Christ...please, give myself or State Pastor Mark a call.
Blessed are the Peacemakers! Peace and Joy!
By Rev. Jim Horn, Northeastern Regional Pastor, Church of God in Michigan.
Check it out...they're good for your head and heart!
1 Peter 3:8-17
Dear Flock, Friends, and Family,
As we begin this New Year, we are people of hope. The trials of the past are gifts from God to cleanse us and make us stronger and wiser. As the people of God we are a blessed people. It's in this context that I give you this New Year's blessing:
May your love grow to include not only your God, your family and friends, and your country, but also your enemies.
May the love for your enemies lead them to Christ, so that they become your friends.
May the joy of the Lord fill you to overflowing so that others seek your presence, because in your presence they are blessed.
May the peace of Christ fill you and your home and your nation so that it transcends all the turmoil that surrounds us.
May the Lord have HIs will in your body so that whether in sickness or health you glorify Him. May you find grace in times of sickness and gratitude in times of health.
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make HIs face to shine on you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
May you enjoy a blessed New Year,
By Rev. Dr. John Miller, Pastor at Oakley Community Church