Saturday, January 08, 2022

Skunks and Turtles

When it comes to conflict resolution people can be describes as skunks or turtles.

Skunks are conflict enjoyers. They face conflict head-on and want to resolve it immediately but tend to be verbal, pushy, aggressively describing their reasons and logic or passions to the other person. In short, they stink up the place, like a skunk.

Skunks mean well. In their head they hear the words of Jesus, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24). Resolving conflict is important. Right?

Turtles are conflict avoiders. They dislike conflict so they keep it to themselves, deny there is a problem, or minimize it, rationalize it or try to forget it. They change the subject, leave the room, hang up the phone, or turn the TV up louder. In short, they retreat into their shell and hide, like a turtle.

Turtles mean well. In their head they hear the words of Jesus, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire." (Matthew 5:21-22) Being meek, kind, patient is important. Right?

Funny these two quotes of Jesus are right next to each other in the Sermon on the Mount. They are meant to be considered together. And mostly because God has a great sense of humor, it often seems like He has designed us to be attracted to the opposite type. Skunks tend to be attracted to turtles, and turtles to skunks. 

Skunks are wrong because in their passion to be heard, they can be experienced as not loving. They can criticize and accuse the other person, assigning motives without first trying to understand. This behavior can drive people away from them and the conflict, sadly because what the skunk really desired was intimacy.

Turtles are wrong because they can allow the hurt to fester and make them bitter towards the other person. In their effort to bring peace they stuff the pain inside but end up leaking instead, acting manipulative, passive-aggressive, with thinly veiled snarky remarks. This behavior can drive people away from turtles when what they really desired was intimacy.
 
What to do? How about we read the rest of Jesus' sermon? Matter of fact, let's start at the beginning.
 

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant, the humble], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

“Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the meek, gentle [the patient, kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God, trying to do the right thing according to His will], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

“Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character, attitudes and motives], for they will see God.

“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace who show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons and daughters of God.

“Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

“Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-12 AMP revised)
 
As we bravely pursue righteousness by entering into peacemaking conversations, these are the highlights of what we need to pray for and strive for:
  • Being humble and devoid of spiritual or intellectual arrogance.
  • Being willing to look at our our failings and mourn over the harm and hurt that causes others.
  • Being patient, gentle, kindhearted and self-controlled as we listen to and interact with others.
  • Trying to do the right things, as much as we understand God's will.
  • Showing mercy and forgiveness to others when they fail.
  • Consider our motives and attitudes to make sure they are rooted in a godly character.
  • Striving to cooperate and not compete or fight.
We also need to have courage. Courage to try to work things out and engage when there is the possibility that we may be hurt, insulted, slandered, or rejected. Jesus tells us here to expect these things and rejoice. Our reward for peacemaking is not here on earth. Our reward is in heaven, kept safe for us by Him.
 
I get disappointed when I try and things don't "work out". But that is a bad goal. It is the wrong goal. Our goal is the Kingdom, not earthly perfection. We do the right thing, with the right attitude and trust the Spirit to work out the rest. 

Beloved, You know where I land with this. I remember demonstrating the worst parts of both the skunk and the turtle. Please forgive me! On my own, I am hopelessly lost in my sinful pattern but my hope is in Your power of Your Holy Spirit in me. This year, help me follow You in these things and help me to encourage others to do the same. You are our hope. Help us trust You more.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Accept, My Word of the Year

A new year. a new page, a new word to focus on for 2022. 

For the past few years I have focused on creating and keeping good relationships. This year after watching current events more than usual, I have been longing to bring God's kingdom to our nation, to the earth. How do we do that? 

For comfort I have been turning to the Lord's Prayer. In it Jesus tells us to pray "Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) and also reflecting on "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12) 

We bring God's kingdom to earth when we allow Him to be our King and obey His laws. And the foundation of all laws is so simple: to love one another. 

Easier said than done. What does this look like? Jesus has been opening this up like an onion for me year by year. 

A prior word of the year was LISTEN. Last year's was ENGAGE. This year's word is ACCEPT. They all go together. Let me explain...

ENGAGE: As a natural conflict-avoider, my default is to ignore conflict. So last year I was encouraging myself to engage. To engage with people in pain and to engage with conflict when I would have preferred to avoid it. It is hard for me to engage and listen if I am not really interested in the topic, if someone is presenting a contrasting point of view, if someone is in a lot of pain. But that is what Jesus calls us to, to move towards others, even when it is uncomfortable.  I would prefer to hang up the phone, walk away, give up, immerse into social media, anything else. But that is not what Jesus did. He came toward us, even though it was messy, uncomfortable, painful, dangerous, and ultimately deadly. I need to continue to engage. It is what He calls me to do.

LISTEN: Listen involves talking less. Asking more questions such as: what else happened, what feelings came up, what prior event in your life does this remind you of, what assumptions are being made. Making sure I understand the other person. Focusing on all the details given. Being sympathetic. Trying to understand their point of view by picturing myself in their situation.  


ACCEPT
: This is the hard next part. Accept their position, their feelings, their prior actions as facts that I am not going to change today. Accept who they are and show respect, tenderness, and compassion. Accept they are a separate person and the Lord has them on a unique path I cannot comprehend and I cannot alter. Accept there are different or conflicting opinions, reasons, world views and it is the way it is. I can still be friendly. I can still be kind. I can still be respectful even when I believe it is wrong.

Only after I honestly accept others as they are, will they be open to hearing my views and continuing the conversation. Once I share, only the Holy Spirit can convict them, and He is well able to do so without any more of my help. Indeed my continued "help" can block His work.

And my Beloved said to me...

I came for all of them but they would not all have Me. Some rejected Me. I did not force them, even now, I never force them. No, I continue to love them.

You cannot force them either. It will not work and only push them away.

Beloved, forgive me for all the times I tried to convince or manipulate others towards my point of view! Forgive my arrogance and pride which led me to believe my ways were right or best and that others needed my help. 

Remind me to love others as You did! Encourage me to engage and listen to accept them and trust You with all things.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Alone and Far from Home at Christmas

It's another covid Christmas and because of the pandemic, our comforting routines and family gatherings are disrupted, leaving us disappointed and sad. 


But isn't that what the first Christmas was like? Mary, a teen with her first pregnancy, expected to be home for the birth, surrounded by her mother, aunts, older sisters and most comforting, the local midwife with experience in giving birth. Unlike today, no medical advancements were available to alleviate pain or rescue a baby in distress. It was not unusual for women at that time to die in childbirth. 

Instead the Roman census came, requiring her and her betrothed Joseph to travel 70 plus miles from home to Bethlehem. When they arrived and the birth of the Child became closer, there was not even a relative's home or an inn to protect them from the elements, only a barn, surrounded by animals and hay. 

There was only Joseph to assist when Mary gave birth. No women with experience gathered to support her. Only a man, with whom she had never been intimate, who had never seen her unclothed, was there to help her. Mary was alone and far from home at a frightening time in her life. And yet, God provided for all her needs. 

God Himself came into the world and surrendered His glory to a young girl alone with a man she barely knew. God who controls the universe allowed Himself to be welcomed into that dirty, cold place. 

We love all the Christmas traditions and the opportunity to be with family and loved ones, to bless them and to be blessed by gifts and good food. But that is not the essence of Christmas. It is the courage to follow God into difficult, lonely places and trust Him because He is worthy of our trust. 

Beloved Jesus, as I think of You and Your earthy mother and father this Christmas, remind me of their courage. Help me to be more courageous and more trusting. Remind me that like Mary, she was not alone. She had God inside her body. And by the power of faith and the Holy Spirit, so do I!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

A Messiah is Coming

Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us.  They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

I too am writing this so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. Christmas is a time of stories, heartwarming tales of love, sacrifice, faith. But many of them are just that, stories made up about things we would like to happen, wish would happen. 

But Luke went to those who knew Jesus and talked to them to get their stories and write an accurate account. One of those people was Mary of Nazareth. This is her story. However this story does not begin with Mary. We are towards the end of the greatest story which began with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  

Over 500 earlier, the Jews returned from 70 years captivity in Babylon and rebuilt their temple. At that  time enthusiasm for their faith was high, and they were devoted to their God and each other. But as humans do over time, their devotion waned and the people returned to their old ways of self-centeredness. God, longing for His people to remember Him, sent the prophet Malachi. He was the last prophet to add to the Jewish scriptures 400 years before Jesus' birth, in the book that sits at the end our Old Testament.  He writes...

“Look! I am sending My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.  “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.  

On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant—all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai[c] for all Israel. 

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 3:1, 4:1-6) 

1. What does God say is coming?

2. Who is God sending? When he comes, what will he do?

3. What does God want for His people?

Luke begins his story by establishing a time line, pointing to who was king at the time. 

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old. (Luke 1: 1-7). 

4. What does Luke tell us about Zechariah and Elizabeth? 

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 

But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”(Luke 1:8-17) 

5. What did the angel tell Zechariah? 

6. Contrast this with what Malachi prophesized. What did this mean? Who will this child John be?

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” 

Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” 

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary. 

When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”  (Luke 1:18-25)

7. What was Zechariah's reaction to the angel?

8. What was Elizabeth's reaction to the angel?

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. (Luke 1:26-27 

9. What did Luke tell us about Mary and Joseph? Why are those facts important?

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you will name Him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!” 

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail. 

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.(Luke 1:28-38) 

10. How does Gabriel describe Mary's Son? What does this mean for Mary and for the nation of Israel?

11. Mary's cousin Elizabeth was an older married woman without any children, so her baby John would take away Elizabeth's dishonor and disgrace. In contrast, Mary was not married yet and was required to stay a virgin until her wedding day. A baby for Mary would bring disgrace to her family and grave danger to her. Yet what was her reaction to Gabriel's news?

12. What do you think compelled Mary to react in this way? 

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your Child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 

You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”  (Luke 1:39-45)

13. Why do you think Mary went to visit Elizabeth? 

14. Mary treasured these memories and years later shared them in detail with Luke. Why did Luke feel it was important to add these details to his story? 


Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For He took notice of His lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me. 

He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear Him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. 

He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For He made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.” 

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home. (Luke 1:46-56)

15. This last section is call the Magnificat because Mary starts with praising her magnificent God. In it she describes God. What does she say about Him? 

16. What does Mary expect God is doing in the coming of baby Jesus?

17. What sections of her praise is especially meaningful to you this year?

Dear Jesus, may we be count among those who fear You and adore You as our King!

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Bible Study: Resolving Conflict

This study is based on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero and the November 14, 2021 Liquid Church sermon "Grow into an Emotionally Healthy Adult" by Pastor Tim Lucas

 


Opening Discussion:

Who are you experiencing conflict with right now, big or small? Do you have a friend, family member or co-workers and there is an issue between you that is unresolved? What do you usually do in these types of situations? And how is that working for you?

In his sermon, Pastor Tim said "Mature adults resolve conflicts rather than dissolve relationships." What do you think of that quote?

 

What does the Bible say about resolving conflict?

Read Matthew 5:11-16

What did Jesus say about conflict? Does this tell us that as followers of Jesus we should expect to be free of conflict?  

Read Matthew 5:21-24

What did Jesus say about who should initiate conflict resolution when we are angry? Who should make the first move? 

Why do you think He said this? 

What does this say about ignoring the conflict? Talking to other friends about the conflict? About ignoring the person causing the conflict? 

Read 1 John 4:11-13 and 19-21 

What did John say about loving others?

Why is loving each other important to God?

When we are angry with someone and/or feel they are wrong, how do we LOVE them and not FIX them?

Read Matthew 7:1-6

Jesus tells us that before we confront someone, we should examine our heart: motives, fears, desires, bad habits, blind spots, etc. He warns us to first "get the plank out of our own eye." How do we examine our heart?

Why is this an important first step before we initiate conflict resolution?

Pastor Tim talked about clarifying our expectations and making sure they are  reasonable. Consider your expectations about the person you are in conflict with. What are you expecting from them? Have you been clear about your expectations with them? Did they agree with your expectations?  

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus seemed to suggest boundaries are also important. How can we tell when we are "casting pearls before swine?"

Ephesians 4:15 encourages us to speak the truth in love. How do we do this? What attitudes must we maintain in ourselves in order to be loving while we express our intense feelings, such as disappointment or anger, to another person?

In his sermon, Pastor Tim recommended saying to the other person: "I'm sorry, I wasn't listening to your perspective?" What do you think of that idea? Why is listening to the other person an important part of the process? How good are you at listening to others without being defensive?

Read Romans 12:18

Paul seems to recommend that we must initiate the resolution, be humble, kind and loving, but leave the results to God. How can we continue to love/forgive people who we disagree with? How can we continue to love/forgive people who repeatedly hurt us?

Read Romans 16:17-20

Paul ends this section of instructions to the Romans with an important reminder about evil. How does this relate to the rest of what we have discovered?

Conclusion

Conflict resolution requires humility, courage and discernment and each individual conflict is unique. There is no list of firm rules, but there is the power of the Holy Spirit who is our companion and helper in all things. 

 

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Facing Grief

What do you do when faced with grief, sorrow, pain?

In Matthew 26 we see what Jesus did when He faced the greatest ordeal of His life, truly the greatest ordeal in history. As that last Passover grew closer, He knew exactly what He was going to suffer: the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of abandonment from His followers, His Father, and finally human death. He even felt the sorrow for those who would ultimately deny Him. 

What did Jesus do in those last days? Those last hours?

He gathered with His friends. In the house of Simon the leper, He had chosen to have dinner with all of His disciples. He shared the Passover meal with the Twelve. Then He got away with His Three closest disciples for prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. In increasingly smaller circles of friends as the time great nearer, Jesus did not shun people but leaned towards them.

Jesus also allowed people to care for Him. This is demonstrated most beautifully by Mary who anointed Him with the fragrant perfume. Sometimes it is hard to admit we need care, accept care from others. Jesus did not have this problem but commended Mary even when others rebuked her.

Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me... For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.  (v. 10, 21)

Jesus shared His thoughts and feelings with His disciples. He did not hide from them what was going to happen, even though they could not comprehend or accept it at that time.

You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified... Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me. (v 2, 21)

Jesus still cared for HIs disciples during this time of grieving. He taught them, He answered their questions, He prayed for them and promised to forgive and reunite with them on the other side of His ordeal. They did not understand at the time, but He knew His words would comfort them later. Even in His deep sorrow, He was not self-centered. 

All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night... But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee. (v 31, 32)

Jesus was committed to obey the Law even in His pain. He kept the Passover. This was woven into God's plan but it is significant in that He didn't feel exempt from His religious routines even though He was grieving.

Even though Jesus stayed close with His disciples until the end, He did not expect too much from them. He not demand from them what they could not do. He forgave them for falling asleep when He asked them to pray, for abandoning Him when He was arrested. 

My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me. (v 38)

Jesus drew His greatest strength from prayer alone with His Father. He was totally honest about His desires and grief, but still willing to obey. He went to His Father alone for comfort, strength, peace. And the Father provided all His needs. 

O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. (v 39)

Jesus did not allow the weakness of His friends to deter Him to seek His Father in prayer. He did not allow the despicable, evil behavior of others to stop Him from going forward with God's plan or to return evil for evil. He was honest but never mean spirited even in His deep pain.

He even called Judas friend. 

Friend, why did you come? (v 50)

No accusations, no recriminations, no retaliations, just a question, asking Judas himself for his motives, reaching out to his heart. You are my friend. Why are you doing this?

How beautiful is our Savior? Who can read this chapter and not be in awe with the perfection of His humanity united with the Spirit? Beloved, help me remember Your ways, fill me with Your Holy Spirit so my ways can be like Yours! 

Friday, May 28, 2021

BlindSpots - Reprise

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9) 

Our topic for this week was how to be a peacemaker, how do we resolve conflicts. Pastor Tim encouraged us to make the first move (Matthew 5:23-24) and start with confessing our own faults, our blindspots. 

Part of the problem is ME!

But there's still that stubborn problem. If it is a blindspot, how do I see it?

We need to start with the assumption that in any conflict, we all have a part, even if it is small.  And even though our part may be small, it is the only part we have the opportunity to change.

So I pray the prayer of King David: Create in me a pure heart, O God (Psalm 51:8) Lord, how can I see my faults? And so here are the questions to ask ourselves, to see our blindspots...

  • WHAT is important to me? What exactly am I fighting for, upset about?
  • WHY is it important? 
  • How important is it? On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 = "I do not prefer this but can live with that" and 10 = "Over my dead cold body", how would I rate this issue?
  • Is there any part I can overlook? What points of compromise can I make?
  • What old wound is this triggering? Is this conflict a repeat of a similar one I have had before, maybe with someone else? What feelings are coming up? Are the intensity of my feelings in proportion to the situation?
  • What unreasonable expectations do I have for the other person, or for the relationship?
  • What assumptions have I made about the other person and their motives that I need to check out with them?
  • What questions do I  need to ask the other person? Could additional information about their past, other circumstances, their feelings, hurts, hopes and dreams help me understand them better and be more empathetic?  
  • How am I thinking only of myself and not considering the needs and desires of others? Have I considered how I have impacted those around me in negative or hurtful ways?
  • How much am I being motivated by fear? Bitterness? Selfishness? Pride? Impatience? Am I being judgmental? Perfectionist? Maybe just not minding my own business?
  • What boundary must I establish in order to make this relationship work again? Sometimes we are dealing with a wicked person who can derail our relationship with Christ and His purpose for our life. Sometimes we need to forgive but walk away to have peace. We need for pray for wisdom to see that clearly -- not just jump to that conclusion. Even in that case, we still must examine our own heart. 

Before we engage to resolve conflict, we can come to our heavenly Father first and examine our heart to discover our blindspots. Even if the relationship cannot or should not be restored, we can count on the Holy Spirit to empower us to forgive and find peace. 

Father, help me to stop and pray and examine my own heart, to be the first to confess my faults and in this way bring You glory. You desire peace and unity! I trust You will give me all the wisdom and courage I need.