Tag Archives: conflict

2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

I took a Saturday self-defense workshop recently. I learned a lot (I’ve forgotten a lot, too!). Our group had hands-on practice and drills. At the end of the session, we formed a circle, and one by one, each of us took a turn in the center to “battle” those of us forming the outside ring with kicks and punches. It was a simulation of a situation where one stood against several. The instructor had a way of encouraging us to take action when we hesitated. He bellowed loudly, forcefully, and commanded, “GO!”

I think on moments in life when I had felt uncertainty, fear, hesitation, intimidation. Moments (at a table instead of encircled in an alley) where I had to face a foe–whether human or situational: to take on a responsibility, to address a conflict, to speak truth, to be accountable. In some of the most stressful moments of my life, I can practically guarantee that I wouldn’t have wanted to be there. But want or not, there I was.

Paul found himself in situations I could only describe as outrageous. How many times had he stared death in the eye? How many times did he go head-to-head with evil? He spoke from experience and reality. I read his words in The Message:

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Corinthians 6:1-13, MSG)

Paul didn’t waste words. There’s a lot he wanted to share, and his message is concise and urgent.

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, MSG)

Lord, help me to carry your word with me every day of the week.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 30; Psalm 74; Isaiah 22; 2 Peter 3

Sometimes I try not to look too far ahead because the course can seem so long. I can feel discouraged at how far I have to go. I can also procrastinate thinking there’s time enough. Perspective influences.

A group I’m part of shares this perspective, “Run the mile you’re in.” There have been many runs where I self-negotiate before I even establish my pace, as if the finish line is adjustable. But some finish lines aren’t well defined.

When will this conflict be resolved? When will I be healed from this trauma? When will things get back to normal? When will I get my thoughts together? When will I get these things completed? When will I reach my goal? When will I die? When will the Lord return?

My husband got me a watch that tracks my mileage and course. Instead of being hyperfocused on the finish line, I can bliss out where I am, losing myself to the rhythm of the cadence and the sound of my breathing. My watch gives me a zap at every mile marker, and all I have to do is glance to see where I am. I run the mile I’m in, fully present. But for situations without a (known) fixed finish, these words give me the perspective to reset in The Wait.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (2 Peter 3:8-14, NLT, emphasis added)

When I don’t know where I am in the journey through The Wait (of resolution, healing, achievement, my life, the Lord’s return), I am reminded and encouraged. I can take action–to make every effort. I have a vision–a peaceful life that is pure and blameless in my Lord’s sight.

Lord, help me in the wait to keep your perspective–to make every effort to be found living a peaceful life that is pure and blameless in your sight. Help me to run the mile I’m in. Help me to run well. The finish line will come.

Courtney (66books365)

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Habakkuk 2; 2 Corinthians 7

WE…the overwhelming pronoun used in 2 Corinthians is not “I”, it is “we.” 2 Corinthians is a letter written by a man who is in love with God and his community of fellow believers. This kind of love must have been a shock to the world. It’s the kind of love that one might expect from a close-knit family, but not from people who are unrelated. It would be reasonable to expect that the early Church would turn on each other and disband in the face of opposition and persecution.

Do I share this fierce love for my fellow believers or am I quick to pull away when things get difficult and avoid conflict? Paul leans in:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter… yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.”  2 Corinthians 7:8-9

Somethings are simply worth fighting for. Human conflict is risky, but truth wins. Paul modeled what he described in his previous letter to the church at Corinth:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

This is the very love God showers down on me everyday through the work of his son, Jesus. It’s more real than the breath in my lungs and the beat of my heart.

Holy Spirit, teach me to love like you do. Help me to lean in towards others and not pull away when difficulties arise. Help me to receive the truth as well as speak the truth in love. Give me a heart that is humble and willing to risk not being understood or loved in return. And relieve me of my  crazy need to be right. May your truth win in all my relationships. Amen

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of your the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

Klueh

 

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Psalm 119:1-48; 1 Corinthians 3

Joyful are people of integrity,

    who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Joyful are those who obey his laws

    and search for him with all their hearts.

They do not compromise with evil,

    and they walk only in his paths.

You have charged us

    to keep your commandments carefully.

Oh, that my actions would consistently

    reflect your decrees!

Then I will not be ashamed

    when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations,

    I will thank you by living as I should!

I will obey your decrees.

    Please don’t give up on me! Ps 119:1-8, NLT

God reminds me, when my thoughts run circles through my head in early morning hours (stress, conflict, resentment), follow him. It’s easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of emotion. Can I avoid slipping into this pit of resentment? He can spare me of shame and give me integrity and joy. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect his decrees.

for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? 1 Corinthians 3:3, NLT.

Christ is doing a new thing in me, building me upon his solid foundation. My initial thoughts and subsequent emotions clearly credit my sinful nature. Can’t I choose a better way? I don’t want to live like people of the world. God shakes me awake. I was sleepwalking down old paths.

13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, NLT.

It is so easy to forget I have a choice. It’s easy to live like my God life is separate from my daily life. Every time I have chosen God’s way over another, he has given me integrity in place of shame. He has honored me. Sometimes I don’t see that immediately. He tells me, today, in this conflict, to follow him.

Lord, please don’t give up on me.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Genesis 13, Matthew 12, Nehemiah 2, Acts 12

Conflict between Abram and Lot’s herdsmen; conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees; conflict between Nehemiah and Tobiah and Sanballet; conflict between Herod and the disciples.

Tension, disagreements, misunderstanding, jealousy, spitefulness and hatred.  We have all had to wrestle with others in our lives who, for whatever reason, take offense to our good intentions.  Recently my mother and stepfather went to a cell phone store to upgrade their phone.  They were so excited to get a phone on which they could see their grandchildren face-to-face.  Unfortunately, the phone did not work when out of range of a wi-fi.  When they returned the phone, they were told they had to come up with another $100 to purchase one that does.

That is where I jumped in.  My first thought was that the clerk was trying to pawn off the older version to my parents who know very little about technology.  I bristled at the thought that this young salesman took advantage of my elderly mother and father who are just trying to see their grandchildren’s happy little faces. And since I own the contract, I tried to fix the problem. However, I was met with resistance, defensiveness, and an unwillingness to make any concessions.  Yuck!  Now I have created conflict.

We are not promised a smooth walk as Christians.  In fact, we have example after example of conflict in the Bible with God’s people. We are also given the remedy for conflict: honor the God whom we serve with all that we say or do.  How should we address our challenge our thoughts that lead to conflict?  Tension rises more frequently than one would like to experience. Before making a move, speaking an ultimatum, or pounding out a decision, we might want to settle within ourselves the possible outcomes, keeping in mind that honoring God in all we say and do is the goal.  Oh, did I say that resolving the tension by getting what I want is the goal?  Perhaps not.  Perhaps the real goal is to align my spirit with God’s Spirit in view of all who come in contact with me.  Me, a messenger who can point others to Christ or put a stumbling block before someone who might be nearing the cross.

Perhaps you think I am taking this too seriously, yet I agree with C. S. Lewis who said in Weight of Glory, “It is a serious thing … to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

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