Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
Most of us know that the coming year is going to see conflict, so I think there needs to be a greater call for peacemakers to be active among Christians.
I believe there are legitimate moments when a third party to a situation can come in and act as a peace-maker.
However, I think there are a couple things to keep in mind if you are going to fill that role. In that light, I've compiled a list - call them "Rules of the Peace-maker." Just remember that I compiled these rules by first breaking them all myself, so I'm only preaching to me first.
First, get both sides of the story before empathizing with one side too much. Remember that most of us tell first the facts that make us look best. The first thing you hear is likely the version skewed to cast that person’s side in the best light. This may not rise to the level of ‘lying,’ but it needs to be taken into account whenever you are acting as the listener.
Second, don’t tell one side what the other one’s problem is when both sides are not present in the conversation. The role of peace-making is one of reconciliation and sometimes interpretation. It is not tale-bearing. It’s a fine line, easily stepped over, so take care.
Third, don’t let one side’s point of view color your analysis too much. A peace-maker is also a natural “situation analyst,” but doing this instinctively does not always mean your analysis is accurate. Be willing to modify your analysis of the situation once you have all the facts, with the understanding that you might have to tweak it several times still before you are completely correct.
Lastly, don’t rely too heavily on your assumption of either side’s motivations. You might be right, you might be wrong. You also might still not have all the facts. Being in the role of peace-maker does not guarantee that people will tell you ALL of the facts. They hold back what they think makes themselves look bad, or they don’t even realize something in the situation could be playing a part in their issue.
People lie to both others and themselves. Them loving you is not enough to verify they’re telling you an unbiased tale.
We've had a few more squabbles at our house lately and it's made me think...
I wonder how often God looks down at His kids and says, "Hey, can't we all just get along for awhile?"
I mean He sends us a someone to help in one area, something we'd long been asking for, but then a bunch of people say, "Well, he's not perfect. He's got a mouth on him...and then some."
Jesus says, "Yeah, Peter had a mouth on him too. Always putting his foot in it. Cutting people's ears off. Swearing he doesn't know me - cussing and cursing... Know what I told him to do even after all that? Feed my sheep."
We pray for the conversion of celebrities. Celebrities are converted and we say, "Huh, prove it."
God says, "I don't make YOU prove it before people should believe you... why are you asking them to prove it before you'll believe it?"
We fuss and we fight until the world turns to us and says, "Hey, aren't you all supposed to love each other or something?"
Well sure... Sure we're supposed to, but...
No, we can stand for what's right without standing against our fellow Christians. We can remain uncompromised without criticizing everyone we think disagrees with us on every little thing. We don't have to LOOK like each other in order to LOVE each other.
If we believe in the same God, believe in salvation through Jesus Christ alone, then stop fighting with others who also believe that same thing.
Are we pushing AGAINST each other, or pulling WITH each other through the fray?
Why two different covers? The paperback version of the cookbook is an unusual shape, due to the unusual recipe format (more information about that below), so it couldn't share a cover with the ebook.
NOT ANYMORE! In this book, you'll find recipes for delectable dishes like creamy mango coconut spice oatmeal, cinnamon almond oatmeal, blueberry cream cheese oatmeal, and (my personal favorite:) caramel banana oatmeal with peanut butter. (Okay, so that one is a little closer to the dessert end of the spectrum than the porridge end!)
Take a look at the book blurb below for more details:
Are you tired of high-sugar, low-health-value instant oatmeals in tiny serving packets full of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives? Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal contains 70 hearty recipes packed with natural ingredients and brimful of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. All are gluten free, assuming you use gluten-free oats, and vegan (or they come with a vegan option). Most require no salt so are perfect for a low sodium diet. Almost all of these recipes can be prepared in ten minutes or less, saving you time in your busy morning.
Oh … and no more math! Whether you’re cooking just for yourself, for a family of six, or any number in between, every recipe comes in the form of a handy table that shows exactly how much of each ingredient you’ll need for however many servings you want.
Tasty enough for kids to crave, but wholesome enough to appeal to health-conscious parents, these mouth-watering recipes will give you plenty of energy for your day while pleasing your taste buds too. Download Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal now and say goodbye to artificial breakfasts that don’t fully satisfy.
Take a peek at a few of the fun recipe titles (with pictures courtesy of photographer Denise Johnson). Then scroll down for a free recipe!
And now for a free oatmeal recipe in the unique format I use in Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal:
About the Author:
Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and now a cookbook. When she isn’t teaching, writing, or experimenting with new flavors of oatmeal, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.
Connect with Annie Douglass Lima Online:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima
Sign up for her mailing list so she can let you know when new books are available. When you sign up, she’ll send you a free copy of one of her fantasy books! http://bit.ly/LimaUpdates
I have always found one of my most difficult trials to be when my home situation is in flux again. So whenever we’ve moved, I’ve felt that instability as abject terror. It’s something deeper than just worry and stress from changing schedules and changing environments. It comes from a fear that I won’t have anywhere to go - that something will fall through and we’ll be left abandoned and alone on the side of a road somewhere.
I’ve had this come up in my life over and over again, and I’ve struggled to not meet it with fear and let that fear rule me. I’ve often given in to panic, tried to micromanage each situation, and gotten short with my family throughout the process.
Well I find myself in that situation once again. The future is unsure, I can’t see the next thing coming right now, but I can hear it like a train in the night bearing down on us.
Yet this time … this time I want to trust God without reservation. I want to stand still, hearing the noise of something coming, and yet know that God has this and all will be exactly as He wishes - no matter what that is. I far too often make resolutions silently, in my heart, without stating them out loud. But not this time. This time I will speak it out that I will trust God. I will write it down that I will trust God. I will spread it abroad to anyone who listens that I will trust God in this matter.
I cannot see His plan right now, but I can see His heart, and God’s heart is to only do us good and not evil all of our days. Whatever His good looks like, I can and will rest assured that it will be for His glory, and not for His dishonor.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Not only is God thinking of me, paying attention to me, but He also has thoughts toward me. Think of that difference for a second. Isn’t that more than wonderful? He thinks of you and me as individuals and He has thoughts directed toward us as persons. As individuals. And those thoughts are of peace, not evil. God is not plotting evil things to do to us, to me, but He is plotting out ways to bring peace between us. He has peaceful thoughts about me. About you too.
And He will be my expected end. He will bring it to pass, whatever His plan is, it will be His doing and it will be glorious.
Why should I expect a life of ease? That’s not right. Why should I panic and fear, trying to manage everything for my own greatest comfort? That’s not right. The peace of God is above physical stress, physical discomfort, and even physical pain.
God’s peace transcends all of that, and it is this peace that guides His thoughts about me and you.
So today, when you’re faced with something that you’ve always struggled with, turn to God and tell Him you WILL be standing with Him - you WILL trust Him - you WILL purposely see His hand in whatever comes to pass, and you will trust His Heart that He has thoughts of peace towards you.
The Transfigured Lit e-zine aims to share good Christian short story fiction to the world. In its first edition, I'm honored to be a featured author.
Check it out here!
Our daughter will be getting married in just a few weeks. At her bridal shower tonight, I was asked to speak a few words, so this is what I shared with my daughter as she's starting this journey with her new husband.
Don't base your relationship on feelings. Sometimes we get complacent in a relationship, or we think that we've got this, we're not going to consider a divorce ever... so then we get complacent. But in a committed, Christian marriage you still need to not base your behavior on feelings. There are going to be times you don't want to do what you need to do, but you need to anyway. Because your feelings aren't the basis for your behavior. God's Word is.
It's okay to lean on him, and it's okay to stand on your own. But when you lean on him, don't overwhelm him, and when you stand on your own, don't stand against him.
Leaning on him means you trust him, but it does not mean you never question him. Being his helpmeet means he needs to hear your point of view when it's different than his. He needs your perspective, especially when you disagree. It might be something he's never thought of, a fresh viewpoint that he needs in order to make the best choices. It's absolutely fine to disagree, and sometimes it's necessary.
Standing on your own means being self-sufficient, not needing him to be right there to make every little choice for you. But in that, don't treat him like he's useless. Don't act as if he's incompetent. He's got things he's good at, just like you do, and everyone's strengths should be celebrated. And while you might disagree with him on something, in your self-sufficiency, don't stand against him in public - and "public" can mean in front of your children, in front of your extended families (including your own mother and father), in front of co-workers, and in front of your church.
Be a unified team.
Don't wish your relationship looked like anyone else's. Your marriage won't look like any other marriage, because neither of you are any of those other people.
Your marriage is like a blank canvas right now. Soon the two of you will pick up brushes and begin to create a beautiful landscape on that canvas, something that no other two people will be able to create. It will be your own unique picture, something precious and valuable. Bring to it the beautiful things that only the two of you can bring. It's yours. Love the fact that your marriage is going to be as unique as you are.
Lastly, the verse I picked for this day is:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We know not to gossip, right?
We can be so strict with ourselves about not gossiping...when it comes to other church members, or coworkers. But what about family members?
Does it occur to us that we might be gossiping about family members?
Does it count as gossip when it's family?
What about when talking to our husband?
I was thinking about this, and seeing that gossip can turn an entire group against a person.
Gossip in a family does the same thing, turning an entire extended family against one person in the family. I've seen it happen.
Gossip reinterprets motives, ascribes thoughts and feelings to the persons actions that may or may not be true. Gossip can turn someone already partly isolated into a permanent family outcast.
Tragically, often the one being gossiped about doesn't even know what's happening until it's too late, and doesn't know what to do about it anyway.
Suddenly they get the cold shoulder, they're the one not invited to the family visits, or they get harsh reactions over what they thought were little things. They didn't know it was something that needed solving until it had grown out of control.
And how is it solved?
Gossip takes Jesus' model of resolving conflict (Matthew 18), and throws it all out of whack.
The gossipers are all offended...only it's over something they heard, rather than something done to them. Plus, if they try to approach the person, they've immediately outed themselves as having indulged in gossip in the first place.
The one being gossiped about usually doesn't know who to approach...or if they do, it's only resolving one relationship. How does she or he heal the many relationships that were damaged? How does she even know who they all are?
What do we do about this?
How can a family be healed from the effects of gossip?
I don't know.
It's time we got back to taking care of each other, don't you think?
If you think socialism is better, it's because you think the government is the one responsible for taking care of everyone in the community.
This is what happens when PEOPLE choose to stop caring for each other, and would rather have an anonymous, distant government do that care for them.
It's really people abdicating their responsibility to care for others themselves.
It's relying on an invisible, anonymous organization to pick who gets help, and trusting that they'll pick the right ones who really need it. It lets you off the hook of having to choose who gets helped.
God says we each are individually responsible for helping the individuals around us when they need it. We're supposed to actively see a need and then meet that need.
That's real Christianity.
That's loving our neighbor as ourselves. That's following Christ.
Right now I can't concentrate well enough to write anything new, at least not this week. But the story ideas keep coming. I've got a lineup of Bible-times fiction that keep coming to me - no Biblical characters, but stories from the time after the Exodus and through the dispersion. They just keep coming to me. Nothing hammered out enough to share yet though.
Then there's all these stories I want to get going:
1) (A Walk in a Park) Danica has lived with her husband's family for years. Now with both herself and her mother-in-law living together as widows, they embark on the greatest adventure of their lifetimes - running an RV park and campground. Can they make it work? Or will they be run off before they even get the chance to try?
2) (Moving Lainy) A young wife moves with her preacher-husband from rural mid-west to big city southern California to start a church in Hollywood's back door. Her struggles to fit in, to find her true role in this new world, and to forge her own path take her down a path that could change both their worlds forever.
3) (supernatural "Flaire") A strange girl found wandering in the woods as a child grows up without knowing who or what she is, just that she's different. When her friend is in danger though, the things she's suddenly able to do frighten her, and everyone around her. Now she's being targeted by people who would use her powers for their own agenda. Does she want that agenda too? Or is she bound to find her own divine pathway?
4) Cozy mystery podcaster - it's funny how the same ideas come to groups of people independently of each other, but at the same time. You know?
5) Ranch lady who continually is thrown into solving mysteries - but this one isn't a cozy. This is traditional mystery or suspense. Her first case? People are being killed - by animals. In barns, in fields, even along a parade route. Every one is chalked up by the police as a tragic accident, but there's too much of a pattern. Something isn't right. Someone's doing this on purpose.
When I think of Jesus' time here on earth, how He went about His ministry, I most often think of those times when he was out in the wilderness preaching to crowds. That's what I first envision when I think of Him preaching. He was out in the desert places, the hills and fields, where great crowds would come to Him, gather round, and listen. These places were so wild that at least twice they were too far away from a village or town to send people home for food. That's why Jesus miraculously fed those who came to hear Him preach.
That's how I see Christ – finding Him in my desolate place, feeling His presence when I'm lost and alone and deserted.
But I have this friend who recently has been talking about how He sees Christ's ministry. He speaks of how Jesus went into the streets to reach the outcast of society. He'll mention how Jesus chastised the self-righteous, and accepted the repentant ones who the “polite society” of that day would not hardly even speak to, much less eat with. How Christ approached the beggars, the adulterers, the prodigals.
Then I got to thinking – you know, Jesus is that One in the wilderness, and He's also the One reaching the outcast. He's more, too... He's also the One standing in the Temple and synagogues, preaching to the people there.
Sometimes we think God is only where we personally see Him. Our way of thinking is the only valid way. But in reality, God is in all those places.
He's in the wilderness.
He's in the alleys and edges of society.
He's in the places of worship.
He's in the places of spiritual ignorance.
I wonder if the part of the Gospels that really stands out to us individually is because that's where we personally meet Christ on a consistent basis. Like that's where we most need Him, or have found ourselves most often. I wonder if the reason all these different places are mentioned as being part of Christ's ministry is because God knew we'd all need to meet Him in different places.
Jesus is the same no matter where He is, but we're not.
He's there for each of us as individuals, if we look for Him.
Where does Jesus' presence most deeply speak to you?
Is it when you've been desolate, with no friends? Or an outcast from society? Has it been when you were feeling prideful and had to be brought low? Or when you were searching, ignorant of what you needed, but willing to listen?
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I'm Sherry Chamblee, aspiring author of Christian fiction, mom of six, wife to a cool dude, and caregiver to his granny. Besides that, I am just little old me - it's just a phrase, I'm not really old, honest.
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