Keeping the Peace

cropped cross s

Today’s Prayerpoint ~ Keeping the Peace

Do you have a peacemaker in your home, office, or life? Do they have a tendency to work hard to smooth things over so everyone appears “happy”? Is that what “peace” really looks like? Shouldn’t “peacemaking” be about hearing conflict and resolving conflict and not pretending conflict doesn’t exist?

Most people don’t like conflict but emotionally healthy people know how to deal with it. You can challenge me on this point but people who often work really hard to “keep the peace” don’t know how to deal with conflict and so they fear conflict. They appear to be peacemakers but their desperate need to avoid conflict creates conflict. Lots of conflict.

Stay with me here.

Conflict is inevitable. People are human and we have different goals, dreams, desires, and ways we see the world. I have never been in complete and total agreement with anyone in my life. And if you were honest, you would admit the same. Some differences do not create big problems – whether I like the blue car or the red car doesn’t usually really matter unless we are married and we are buying one car that we need share and you absolutely hate the color I absolutely love. What does the peacemaker do in that situation? They need to give in unless their passion is so strong they cannot or find an acceptable resolution that both parties can agree to.

If you have a tendency to be a “peacemaker” stop and consider how you respond in situations. In your rush to create peace are you creating more conflict? Lack of observable conflict and peace might look similar but they are very, very different. Please work to truly hear the issues of conflict because surrendering to keep the peace or always making others give in to “keep peace” doesn’t mean there is truly peace. You can say “The Emperor has new clothes!” but it doesn’t make it true! It is always better to get to the root of the conflict even though it often takes time and energy.

In Jeremiah, there is a verse that has always stuck with me and I think it fits these types of scenario well.

Jeremiah 6: 14
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.

May you seek true Peace from the Peacemaker!

Filters…

A refreshing stream in Colorado

A refreshing stream in Colorado

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Filters

What do they do for us?

Air filters capture the junk we might end up breathing in.

What about other types of filters? You can filter what you might say by taking out the junk you might want to instinctively say — similar to an air filter. Or if you are talking about pictures and altering the way something looks you can use a variety of filters on Instagram to convey a mood. You can simplify or distort with little effort. What about the filters we use when we watch an interaction (and maybe read more into it than is there) or when we are listening to someone speak and we hear words of condemnation when they really weren’t intended in such a manner.

Have you noticed when you have a certain sensitivity that it makes its appearance in many situations? Maybe that is your filter? Sometimes filters add and sometimes they take away. I think we all have a history of interactions and many of them do come up from the depths at the least expected times.

FILTERS:

* Need to be changed or cleaned regularly

* Protect the air we breathe

* Can slant how we hear or view things

* Alter reality in subtle and not-so-subtle ways

If we would use a filter before we speak what could it do for us? What could it do for others?

Filters help a very verbal person like me have less regret for what I say.

What about using a filter when we LISTEN?

Do we hear what exactly is said? Do we add or subtract based on our history? Do we filter out any positives because we are determined to hear the negatives?

Filters can help my relationships not be exasperated but they can also skew the truth. There is always a level of filtering we do when we hear and when we speak.

As you go about your business today, think about how your perspective and experiences might filter the way you see and hear things. If you are the type of person who finds yourself with many verbal regrets consider pausing before you speak and put a filter in place. Not everything we think needs to be spoken!

Faithfulness

small faithfulness

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Faithfulness

Maybe this has happened to you…one day you wake up to find that a very significant person in your life is gone…an accident, illness, by their own hand. Maybe it’s a job loss or the words “Our marriage is over”. It makes you want to throw up and crumble up in a ball and scream and plead with God that this not be your circumstance to walk through. Maybe the above happened to someone you care about. When someone close to me experiences significant loss, I often find myself simply stunned with the situation weighing very heavily on my heart and mind. The only thing I can do is pray for clarity, for provision, for peace, and for God to transform the circumstance in the way only He can. God will be faithful to provide!

Every day there are people coping with loss. Many are believers who need someone to pray with and for them and step in with a tangible provision. Others may not be believers but so desperately need to see the reason for our hope. Life is hard but God is good ~ even when the situation is a painful place to be.

If you want to, jot down the names of the people or circumstances that God brings to your heart. Journaling prayers is a great way to keep your mind focused. Or just stop what you are doing and lift the circumstances up. The point is to pray. And to pay attention to what God is putting on your heart. You may be in a position to offer some tangible support. Sometimes your faithfulness as a friend makes all the difference to someone reeling from some devastating news.

Wiggle Room

view of river and nature

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Wiggle Room

There are times when having some wiggle room is imperative and there are other times when it is downright dangerous and it is very important to discern the difference between those two types of situations.

Being a personality that is not super precise, I have a tendency to like wiggle room. I can get close and that is usually good enough for me. In fact, it is good enough for most of the things I do. Precision is not my game. Striving for perfection is overrated and darn near impossible anyway so I aim to get close or “in the ball park”.

I do, however, recognize and value precision in certain situations. If we are talking space shuttles and airplanes you can bet I want things to be precise. When people place an order with my business, it is important for them to get the products they requested. Additionally, there are several of people in my life that like or need precision so I do make the effort when I need to.

Given that I like “wiggle room” it is a huge deal that I have come to appreciate boundaries. I think the concept of boundaries became more important to me as we started to have children. When I think of those who really like perfection I suspect it is a huge switch for them when they have children. But anytime you deal with people, older or younger, you are dealing with varying personalities and truly you only have control over yourself and your reaction to the situations around you.

I do like wiggle room but I also like to know when the line is drawn that it is a firm line.

What about you? Do you have a preference for yourself? Do you like to work with one type of personality over another? Do you see the benefits of both?

I think the diversity in personalities makes life so much more interesting (as well as challenging). While I generally like myself, I wouldn’t want the whole world to operate like me because it would be a little chaotic! Take time to think about the incredible variety of personalities in your life and be thankful for the diversity, even if it brings challenges once in a while. Maybe there is something you can learn from the personality that is “opposite” of yours. Hopefully you will grow to appreciate their needs and perspectives!

Word Pictures

Egerpp

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Word Pictures

Have you ever used “word pictures”?

Word Pictures are entirely written or spoken but vivid enough not to need an actual illustration. I think they are particularly powerful when they are written to communicate a complex idea but tailored into the “language” of the audience. Jesus used parables frequently in Scripture and I think those are pretty comparable to word pictures. Jesus told important Truths using a setting familiar to the those who were listening. Often He was talking to fishermen so he used fishing references when He talked about sharing the Gospel. When you speak to someone in their language and use scenarios from experiences they can understand they can grasp your intent more easily.

A well-crafted word picture can communicate positive or negative ideas and can speak volumes even if it doesn’t use many words.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, you might want to practice crafting some sweet word pictures for the precious people in your life. Consider their special interests and craft a positive message for them based on that. If you are a natural wordsmith, this shouldn’t be too hard.  For example, if you are talking to an astronomer and you want to express feelings of deep affection you can tell them “I love you to the moon and back” and they will probably get a sense of how much you care.

On a more serious note, when I have an important point to get across to another person sometimes I will craft a word picture to communicate my thoughts. This action serves several purposes:

  • I slow down and think about the best way to approach the situation before I say the first thing that comes to my head.
  • I put myself in the other person’s shoes as I think about what they might relate best to.
  • I consider my words carefully for the best impact.

Practice makes perfect! Well, maybe not perfect, but it does help you get more familiar with using this technique for communicating.

This may sound like a paradox but I think it can be hard for a person who is always thinking to choose very carefully what they will say.  I am a verbal processor and it tends to get me into trouble because I often think out loud. Many times I start speaking in an effort to sort out my thoughts and there have been times as I have talked through things I have completely changed my mind by the end of my words. Let me tell you, this has caused problems in our house through the years. I am married to a great guy who means what he says and doesn’t say it unless it is true. Don is very precise with his words and I am often very general so taking the time to create a word pictures for him has been helpful for me.

Word Pictures create powerful imagery when crafted properly. I love the challenge of using an every day item to illustrate an important truth that I want to share. If you are having a challenge communicating an important idea to someone else maybe a word picture will help.

How did I get here?

small self control

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ How did I get here?

There have been many times I have asked myself this question, particularly as I was analyzing a challenging moment in my life like a:

  • bad grade
  • financial problem
  • relationship challenge
  • unhealthy behavior
  • sick feeling in my gut

Can you relate? Are you where you want to be? Do you have any thoughts on why you are where you are? Are there things you want or need to change?

Sometimes I ran to the unfortunate places I have gone. Sometimes it was a little “indiscretion” that was a tiny step by tiny step progression until I landed squarely where I ended up. On occasion it was someone who seemed healthy or trustworthy who influenced my path but I continued the journey as I worked my way through some distorted understanding of myself and the world. Unchecked emotions or behavior has led me to difficult places. And sometimes it took a long while to extricate myself from those spots.

Changing bad habits is difficult and demanding work. I know because I have worked on a few in my day. If you find yourself in a place you wish you were not you might want to incorporate a few of the following ideas:

  • Take an honest look at your situation.
  • Confess your issues to God and ask for His help
  • Find a healthy accountability partner with whom you can be completely honest
  • Visit with your pastor
  • Join a support group

This may sound crazy but there are times when others may not be supportive while you work on your bad behavior. Others close to you might not be happy with efforts and they may actually try to sabotage your progress but keep moving to a healthier place.

We are all in process.  We all have things to work on. Some of it is big stuff and some of it is fine-tuning some little stuff. If you have ever worked on a big thing please have compassion on those who are in the middle of their big project. You likely are able to offer some hope to someone just beginning his/her journey of change. A little encouragement can go a long way for someone who is downtrodden by the weight of his/her sin and the consequences of bad choices.

Getting what you deserve

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Getting what you deserve

Have you ever heard Dave Ramsey speak? One of his classic lines is “Deserve is a dirty word”. Have you ever thought about it in that way?

Typically the world encourages us to “Have it Your Way” or reminds you that “You Deserve a Break Today”. Do most people really need to reminder to put themselves first? Isn’t that the typical sinful nature?

Here are some titles for magazines for women:

  • Self
  • Me
  • All You
  • Allure
  • First
  • More
  • She

Notice a trend here? Buying into this mentality really wreaks havoc on our spiritual life. When we start thinking about what we deserve in the worldly sense, we start a journey on a difficult path that generally leads to dissatisfaction, depression, envy, regret, uneasiness, unhappiness, discontentment, displeasure, fretfulness, restlessness. How quickly we can become dissatisfied with our house, job, spouse, children, vehicle, friends, etc.

If we think about what we deserve in the spiritual sense, it really can put a positive spin on the way we look at others. God graciously extends His forgiveness to us and there is nothing we have done or can do to deserve it. Isn’t that Good News? Contemplating God’s graciousness to us really calls us to consider whether we are sharing that same grace with others and learn how to be content with God’s provisions.

The next time someone causes you a little grief, consider giving them something they don’t ‘deserve’ ~ give them a break, cut them some slack. Maybe they are in a circumstance where they would benefit from God’s compassionate grace and you are the person called to extend it!

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.  9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities
.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.