Archive for June 2012

Following Jesus – Conflict as accident or choice

Was it an accident or choice that caused conflict in our family? There are two different types of conflict that stem from our selfish actions or reactions – accidental conflict & deliberate conflict. In our house, most problems of conflict include both types

Pastor Mike spoke on June 10 about vengeance. He used several examples about personal heart issues and vengeance when teaching from Matthew 5: 38-42. It helps our kids when we admit our own failure to be righteous or respond in a righteous way. Talking about my own failure to bring peace, asking forgiveness from my kids, and asking for their prayer to help me respond better to conflict can be tangible way to following Jesus in my home.Great family talking points & questions to ask together in the car, at dinner or doing chores together:

1. Describe yourself.  What do you see?   How might others describe you?  If Jesus is your savior, how does he see you?

2. We have all had people hurt or offend us in innumerable ways.  Think about one of those occasions.  If you are comfortable, share one of those times.  What feelings surfaced then, and what feeling surface as you recall it now?  Revenge, justice, pity?

 3. How did you react then when it occurred?  Would you do anything different if it happened today.  Read these verses:  Proverbs 24:29, Proverbs 25:21, Romans 12:17, 21, 1 Thessalonians  5:15.  In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, is Jesus teaching anything new?  Whose job is it to repay evil?  (Deut. 32:41, Hebrews 10:30)

 4. Have you ever “turned the other cheek?” Who have you established a relationship with …that initially meant harm for you? How would life look if everyone in the church showered its enemies with love rather than revenge?

 5. Why does Jesus tell us to have a different “heart” attitude about the way we should act when offended?  (Read Peter 2:20-24) Mike said we should think faithfully, eternally and missionally about your responses.

 6. Now look at yourself as being the offender.  You just slapped Jesus across the face and instead of wiping you off the face of the earth, he holds out his hand to invite you to his home.  Does this change your perspective? Has Jesus changed your heart?  How?

Most of the time, we do not intentionally set out to harm someone else. Conflict caused by an accident can devolve further by bad choices by each party. Bumping into someone can cause them to respond in a way that brings conflict. What can be done in this situation to bring peace? Conflict can escalate out of control when responders continue to make bad retalitory choices involving tone, emphasis, blame, etc. Fruit from the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23 can stop this escalation. A heart centered or rooted in loving and pleasing God can overcome accidental conflict through this fruit. It puts us in right perspective with the conflict in order to think faithfully, eternally and missionally in our homes.
  1. Love: Unselfish concern for others & desire to do good
    • Example: choosing to play game with friend even though you don’t want to
  2. Patience: Ability to wait without grumbling or complaining
    • Example: choosing to wait your turn instead of demanding to go first.
  3. Kindness: interested in the well-being of others: considerate and helpful toward them
    • Example: choosing to befriend someone who is different instead of teasing them for it
  4. Gentleness: compassionate toward others with a gentle voice and actions
    • Example: choosing to speak kindly to someone who speaks angrily toward you.
What about deliberate choice conflict?
This one seems less frequent yet harder to effectively manage well in our home. It is often accompanied by “What were you thinking!
Corlette Sande says, “Good choices come from a heart that wants to please Jesus, while bad choices come from a heart intent on pleasing yourself .”
What is going on in a child or adult that is deliberately choosing to hurt others? This is an abusive heart and needs to be addressed as such. Typically in our house it is a sign of lack of attention or boredom. Luke 6:45 says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks.”
  1. Assess their behavior first by using HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)
  2. Think through the following questions. What have they been watching, listening to, hearing or thinking that has caused these desires? Have we prayed through these desires? Has their been putting Truth in and defeating lies from satan? Are we spending time valuing each other and seeing each other as important and worthy?
  3. Pray through deeper issues of anger, violence and self-protection that may need professional help. Is there a greater physical, mental, emotional or spiritual issues here resulting in abusive behavior.
Practicals for getting to the root of emotion in the home:
1. Statements & Questions that probe the heart and validate emotions
We say these word in our house:
  • You may be angry, but you may not abuse others in your anger
  • You may be angry but you are holding us all hostage with your anger
  • You may be angry but you many not choose to harm us in your anger
  • You seem angry, but do you know the emotion that is causing your anger?
2. Being able to help children determine what is going on naming their emotions

Emotion chart: Very useful in trying to figure out what emotion in causing an angry reaction. Click here for an example. It is helpful to start with vocabulary to explain emotions. Find some help for that here.


Following Jesus – The root of peacemaking

I knew a woman whose  greatest desire was a peaceful and happy home. She really never cared how that peace was established nor what  transpired to achieve it. I never  understood if she just wanted peace and quiet or the true peace of addressing conflict on the heart level.

Pastor Mike talked on May 20th about deep longing stemming from an unfulfilled and discontented heart. He was speaking into lust, but we see from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7  that many selfish desires lead to discontent. The family challenge material this series focuses on our selfish and discontented hearts as the root of conflict in our relationships. You can see that material here:the-slippery-slope-of-conflict

True peacemakers step into conflict in healthy ways. They think about healthy ways to embrace their own longings and see another’s desires; they do not run from conflict or attack others because of it. We looked last week in the blog at the responses we have to conflict as peace-fakers, peace-breakers or peacemakers. This week we will look at the heart of conflict.

James 4:1-3 says “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

From Young Peacemakers by Corlette Sande

“Many of our conflicts happen because we want our own way  and make choices to get it. These choices come  from selfish desires that are rooted in our hearts…Sinful, self-serving desires often take control of our hearts. The heart is like a battlefield where our selfish desires are at war with what we know is right…When we give into them, we often end up in a conflict with someone.” p. 37

  • Selfishness = you want your own way
  • Self-pity = you feel sorry for yourself and you want others to feel sorry for you, too
  • Greed = you want more and you are not content with what you have
  • Pride = you think you are better than others
  • Fear of others = you are afraid of what others think of you– you want to be liked
All of these selfish desires bring us into conflict with others. Are we aware of which ones affect our relationships in our families, jobs and friendships? Are we aware of actions and reactions that give rise to conflict? People make choices on purpose; everyone is responsible for their own choices. Our choices can be:
  • good or poor
  • right or wrong
  • obedient or disobedient
  • respectful or disrespectful
  • wise or foolish
  • righteous or sinful
We are not condemned for making wrong choices. The death and resurrection of Jesus covers all our wrong choices, but God does require us to own those choices, see their effects on us and others, search our hearts for wrong desires and address the conflicts they cause. We can turn our hearts to His desires by filling ourselves with His presence. We take out wrong heart desires by confession and asking forgiveness. We put in new heart desires through reading the Bible, worshiping Him and prayer. It is not about having a home of peace and quiet. It is about working through the heart of family conflict for true peace with God and others.
Roman 12: 1-3 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Questions to talk about this older children:

see these pdf worksheets on choices good & bad choice wksht and consequences choices cycle

  1. What are you longing for in your heart  (your way, peace & quiet, a possession, a sexual encounter, etc…)?
  2. Discontent can cause longings to develop out of proportion and out of control and cause us to go after things we should not.
  3. What are you discontented with these days?
  4. What are you willing to do to get it?
  5. Has God failed to provide something you need in your life?  Does He have you a place that causing great discontent?
  6. How does wanting something or not getting what you want cause conflict in your home?
  7. What does Psalm 37:4-6 say about changing our hearts?
Good choice, Poor choice, Your Choice:

Use the language of  “Good Choice, Poor Choice, Your Choice” when you have a situation of conflict with children. Use the the word “choice” as it will develop personal responsibility for their behavior. It is their choice made by their heart that affects their behavior. We want them to develop personal responsibility for their choices as they grow older. We can then model positive affirmation or negative consequence based on their choices rooted in their heart. It will stop them from blame-shifting, whining and pouting actions in the future. Talk about good and poor choices of other people when you are reading books, watching others, or watching shows.

Respond with positive affirmation:

  • I like the good choice you just made ___________________ . Your choice was a good choice.
  • I like your choice to ___________ . Your choice was a good choice.

Respond with negative consequence:

  • You chose to __________ . Your choice to ____________ will cause __________________. Your choice was a poor choice
  • You chose to _________. Your choice was a poor choice. You will not be allowed to ______________ because of your choice