War and Peace

And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed himLuke 22:47-51

There’s a lot of war in the Bible. Early in the Bible’s account of history, war was about conquest, because various tribes were trying to establish their boundaries. Now the boundaries are pretty much set. In most cases, everybody knows which country is which. We even have empires. And yet we still have war!

Now war is about economic power, or taking someone’s land, or getting access to resources like oil, water, or trade routes. But one way or another, most wars are started in hate. Whether it’s inter-religious hate or hatred between nations, war is almost always begun in hate.

When Jesus said, “Preserve the peace,” I don’t think He was making an anti-war statement. I believe there are wars that have to be fought, and there will be war in the end times. This is part of what the Bible says is going to happen: wars and rumors of wars. So it is not my goal to picket against wars.

My goal is to love. A big part of the Christian’s duty is to preserve the peace. And for me, love is the only way to preserve peace. If you love people, there will be peace.

As you have read many times in this blog, one way we can love our neighbors as ourselves is by helping those who are in need. That is the love the Jesus, so that is the love that preserves peace.

What about judging people? No. You’re not preserving peace by judging people. I don’t think that you’ve ever judged someone and then they’ve said to you, “You know what? Thanks for judging me. I feel a lot more peaceful now that you’ve judged me and condemned me.” You don’t see that happen!

We should conduct our affairs by replacing judgment with love. But I understand that in our flesh, it’s really hard to do that. When we see something wrong, we want to handle it ourselves. God says, “Judge not,” and we want to answer, “Yeah, I know, but this isn’t right, and that person needs to know it! So I need to tell them!” We are always going to struggle with this as ambassadors of Christ.

Jesus didn’t have that struggle. He never struggled with it. Jesus would say something to somebody, and it was over. He wasn’t ever physically required to make things right. He showed us another way. When Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, who was trying to grab Jesus, He said to Peter, “Put your sword away. What are you doing? We’re preserving peace here. I’m going to die for mankind, so that they have a hope. You don’t cut a guy’s ear off! You don’t understand what you’re doing.”

And then Jesus preserved peace. He restored the servant’s ear. He put it back on his head!

Self-restraint like this is just so hard for us. I would cut the guy’s ear off in a cold minute, and I just wouldn’t care! I understand Peter completely! “You’re attacking my God, so I’m going to cut your ear off. You’re lucky I don’t kill you.” In that time and place, no one would have told Peter he was wrong. No one would have spoken against Peter for defending Jesus.

But Jesus showed us another way. He preserved peace.

Compared to God, we are really limited in what we can do. I believe we truly want to do what’s right. We want to make things right. And in our desire to do that, sometimes we lose control.

The thing is, when we lose control, we want to attack, just to get that feeling of control back. This happens to everybody. It’s natural! But it’s not preserving peace.

Remember, in times of conflict, Jesus always give you a way out. Always. You just have to look for it.

The Other Cheek

Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace. Mark 9:49-50

Preserving peace should be our goal as believers, but it’s been hard for me. As a professional athlete, I competed every day, and I pitched with something you could only describe as aggressive, competitive anger. I wasn’t joking around out there, and I didn’t feel bad for the hitter.

When a game was finished, I had to switch out of that mode. That could be really hard to do. Sometimes I had to go out into the world before I’d finished putting the competition away for the day. In those times, I relied on God’s grace to get me through.

One night after a game, I was going to my car with my wife and one of our sons, who was five years old at the time. We were with a couple of friends and their three daughters. Our son stopped to do something, the way that little kids do. My wife turned to help him and get him moving again. But she was pregnant, so she didn’t move as quickly as usual.

There are employees of other companies that use the player’s parking lot at Giants stadium. They park there as visitors. That night, when our son stopped and my wife moved to help him, we accidentally got in the way of a guy who was also leaving for the night, a guy who didn’t work for the Giants. When my wife went to help our son, a couple of things the guy was carrying got knocked to the ground.

I didn’t know it was because of us, but I tried to help him pick them up. He didn’t look at me. He ripped his stuff out of my hand and shoved past my family. He didn’t even say thank you.

As he shoved past us, I saw him mouth at my son, “Get out of the effin way.”

I stopped him. I said, “Excuse me. Did you just say that to my little boy?” He got defensive, so I said, “I think you did, because I watched it come out of your mouth.”

Now, we had just lost a really close game to the Dodgers. I was still in that competitive mode. And then I saw him say that to my son. He only mouthed it, but I got really angry. I needed to protect my little boy! So I was definitely not in the mood to preserve the peace. I was in fight mode. In fact, I was going to chase after him. I was going to punch him in the face. I was going to knock him out.

I turned to tell my wife to get in the car and wait for me. Instead what I saw was my son and those three little girls, looking up at me. The second I saw them, I knew that they came first. So I simply said, “Alright, let’s go guys. Let’s get in the car.”

Imagine what could have happened! Just for an instant, I wanted to do something to that man that was definitely not going to preserve peace. It wasn’t going to help anything beyond satisfying my desire to compete and win.

I have the Spirit in me, but I’m still a flesh-and-blood man. I still have issues. I still fail. I don’t always do the things I should.

But God always gives us an out. We just have to look for it. In the passion of the moment, it may be hard to see, but He always gives us an out. That night, God gave me those children. He gave me the grace of those four pairs of eyes looking up at me, waiting to see what I was going to do.

I think there are going to be times when I have to protect my family, but this wasn’t one of them, and I could see it. God told me, “You can go after that guy and teach him a lesson. You can take that route, and there will probably be a bunch of people saying you were justified. But I’m showing you that there’s another way.”

I’m thankful for that night. I’m thankful that God helped me preserve the peace. I will always prefer God’s way over the ways of men. I don’t want to aggrieve the Holy Spirit.

Also, I’m a dad. I want to be a faithful father to my sons, the way that God is a faithful father to me. This was a chance to show my son that it’s possible to turn the other cheek. Five year-olds act out in anger. That night, God let me show my son that he can handle conflict without resorting to hitting or punching. I got to help my son learn that!

Even though we got in the car and drove away, my adrenaline was still pumping. This was more grace from God. He gave me time to cool off, and that gave me a chance to think. Is turning the other cheek the same as doing nothing, and moving on as if nothing had happened? I don’t think so. Jesus taught us that we must be preservatives in this world, and preserve the peace. To do that, we need to address conflict and resolve it. Peacefully.

So I decided to find the guy’s employers at the park the next day, so we could talk it out. And that’s what I did. Think about it. How much better was it to talk, instead of fight? I settled the conflict with no broken noses and no broken hands. I relied on honesty and fellowship. I preserved the peace.

It was beautiful. That’s how we should do it.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

To be a peacemaker is to know when to bring peace.

Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker. That’s what He came for. Obviously He had zeal and passion. In the marketplace outside the Temple, He flipped tables and made whips out of rope. There wasn’t a lot of peace when He was doing that! That was chaos! But that was a different situation.

Jesus created peace in most situations. Where there was chaos, He created peace. Even when there was chaos in nature, He created peace. One night the disciples were out in the boat when a storm came up. The boat was flooded and they were about to drown. Continue reading

The Transformers and the Holy Spirit

Those Transformers movies are really cool. Kids all around the world just love them, and grownups love them too. A teammate has Transformers tattoos, and he’s not the only one. We just love them, but I wonder how many people understand that their story comes straight from scripture. Continue reading

Gospel of Prosperity

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10

I see all of the Step Up movies. I love the dancing. How do they do what they do? I can’t do it! I went with my teammates last summer. I said, “We’re going,” and the guys made fun of me. “I cannot believe you watch that!” “The acting is terrible!” And I told them, “Yeah, the acting is terrible. But that’s not why I’m going! Have you seen the creativity of those kids? Have you seen what they do?” I had an epiphany when I got back to my hotel room. Dance is a big deal in Spokane. What if we merged our social justice ministry into the dance scene? Continue reading

Preserving Peace in a Time of War

And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed himLuke 22:47-51

There’s a lot of war in the Bible. Early in the Bible’s history, war was about conquest, because various tribes were trying to establish their boundaries. Now the boundaries are pretty much set. In most cases, everybody knows which country is which. We already have empires. And yet we still have war!

Now war is about economic power, or taking someone’s land, or getting access to oil, or water, or trade routes. But one way or another, most wars are started in hate. Whether it’s inter-religious hate or hatred between nations, war is almost always begun in hate.

When Jesus said, “Preserve peace,” I don’t think He was making an anti-war statement. I believe there are wars that have to be fought, and there will be war in the end times. This is part of what the Bible says is going to happen: wars and rumors of wars. So it is not necessarily my goal to picket against wars. My goal is to preserve peace. And the only way to preserve peace is to love. If you love people, there will be peace.

A big part of the Christian’s duty is to preserve peace, and we do that by loving our neighbors as ourselves. And as you have read many times in this blog, we love our neighbors as ourselves by helping those who are in need. That a love that preserves peace. Judging someone? No. You’re not preserving peace by judging people. I don’t think that you’ve ever judged someone and then they’ve said to you, “You know what? Thanks for judging me. I feel a lot more peaceful now that you’ve judged me and condemned me.” You don’t see that happen!

I truly believe that replacing judgment with love is how we should conduct our affairs. But I understand that in our flesh, it’s really hard to do that. When we see something wrong, we want to handle it ourselves. God says, “Judge not,” and we want to answer, “Yeah, I know, but this isn’t right, and he needs to know it!” We are always going to struggle with this as ambassadors of Christ.

Jesus didn’t have that struggle. He never struggled with it. Jesus would say something to somebody, and it was over. He wasn’t ever physically required to make things right. And He showed us another way. When Peter cut off the ear of that guy trying to grab Him, Jesus put the guy’s ear back on! And He said to Peter, “Put your sword away. What are you doing? We’re preserving peace here. I’m going to die for mankind, so that they have a hope. You don’t cut a guy’s ear off. You don’t understand what you’re doing.” And then Jesus preserved peace. He put the guy’s ear back on!

This is just so hard for us to do. I would cut the guy’s ear off in a cold minute, and I just wouldn’t care! I understand Peter completely! “You’re attacking my God, so I’m going to cut your ear off. You’re lucky I don’t kill you.” In that time and place, no one would have told Peter he was wrong. Just as people would have understood if I’d punched that guy for insulting my little boy, no one would have spoken against Peter for defending Jesus. But Jesus showed us another way. He preserved peace.

Compared to God, we are really limited in what we can do. I believe we truly want to do what’s right. We want to make things right. And in our desire, sometimes we lose control. When you lose control of wanting to make things right, you want to attack. You want to regain control. We all do that. But it’s not preserving peace. It was just a really good thing, man, that Jesus gave me an out that night in the parking lot. And He always does. You just have to look for it.

What Do You Do When You Just Want to Punch the Guy?

Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace. Mark 9:49-50

Preserving peace should be our goal as believers, but it’s hard for me. I compete every day, and I pitch with competitive anger. I’m not joking around out there. I don’t feel bad for the hitter. And then after the game is finished, I have to switch modes. It’s very hard to do. Sometimes I can’t, and then I have to rely on God’s grace to get me through. I said last time that God always give you an out. Here’s a story about the night I turned the other cheek. Continue reading