Blessed are the Peace-Makers
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Picking up from where we left off last Sunday:
F. Worse yet is Personal Strife.
Again, I see so much personal strife in the lives of my clients and my parishioners. The above example of Robert is an obvious example of deep inward personal strife.
In preparing this message I found an old page that I had torn from the North Carolina Baptist State Convention Newsletter. The article is dated February 19, 1977. The title of the article is "How to Deal with Guilt" by Woodrow Hill. Hill begins his article, "The problem of guilt lingers like a dark cloud over the heads of members of the human family, and some have serious difficulties coping with it."
If there is one negative emotion that does not belong in a Christians mind then that emotion must be "guilt". Is not the promise of Calvary a promise of "forgiveness"? Yes, it is. Yet, so many of us are struggling or have struggled intensely with this emotion after we accepted Christ as Lord. Why?
In my opinion and I firmly believe the Bible teaches that when we accept the Lord we are not cleansed of all our negative thinking - especially the unconscious stuff from childhood. Robert is an example of this. Concerning this, Hill writes, "Someone has suggested that we are all omnibuses in which our ancestors ride." This is the same concept as is "generational sins" mentioned above. Hill continues, "Even after finding personal forgiveness in Christ and gaining a new nature in him, the delicate wiring of the human structures has a way of arcing across centuries, bringing unexplainable flashes to plague us as long as we live in the human flesh."
Is there no hope for our personal struggles? Can we break loose from those old negative mental frames that pop up right when we least expect them, and as Paul wrote in Romans 7, we find ourselves yielding to the law of sin rather than the Law of Christ. Hill later writes, "When we trust the work of Christ in atonement for our sins and the removal of guilt, we no longer have a defiled past, for God has blotted it out in complete forgiveness."
Yes, yes, how true that is yet so many believe that with all their heart and soul yet they are unable to break those chains of the past that enslave them to those dysfunctions of the past. Is there any hope? Yes, yes there is. Fortunately we live in a time when Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Linguistics and Neuro-Linguistics have brought to the Christian clinician in assisting the Christian to experience the fullness of Christ that is rightfully theirs as children of God. We now know how to bring the faith we have in Christ to bear upon those old hurts and bring deep healing.
You do not have to be a slave to the past. You can discover the "Peace of Christ" applied to that trouble soul that you have had most of your life. You can live in and out of His peace. (Check www.renewingyourmind.com for extensive free information teaching you how to apply your faith to your hurts.)
Robert's cut off from dad - "No Bonding"
Last week I introduced you to one of my active clients whom I have named Robert. I spoke of how his family was highly dysfunctional with an alcoholic father and an enabling mother. Due to this, for the most part the children were just pushed to the side. Robert has been working on his "stuff" for 3 years. We have been doing therapy off and on during this time with it being quite heavy in recent months. He has also read extensively about dysfunctional families, ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) and about various treatment methodologies including Neuro-Linguistics and Neuro-Semantics. The following letter came to me the first of this past week. Robert called his father over the weekend and told him that he was "cutting him off as his dad":
"Well, the call was a lot less dramatic than previous ones - I've kind of trained him to at least hear me out - but still very unproductive. By the end of the call I told him I was sorry but that I had to cut off contact with him. He confirmed that I meant forever, I said I did, he pointed out that the decision was mine, and that he was "here" (meaning I could call him if I want).
"I'm pretty sure there will be contact at some point again, I just don't want any with him for the foreseeable future and I think it's good that I was as proactive as I was. There really is no reasoning with him and that's pretty toxic.
"Also, I'm going to send an email to three of my four siblings (it wouldn't be appropriate to send it to my older brother who maintains very limited contact with the rest of us, though I will reach out to send him Christmas wishes), informing them very briefly and calmly what's going on. It'll be pretty measured and I'm not looking to stoke up any rivalries, just to put a stop to the culture of sweeping stuff under the rug in my family."
"Looking forward to Wednesday,"
My Response to Robert
"Well, I guess that there is hope that one of these days your dad will "see the light" for he told you that his door was open. Of course, it is all about what you will confront when you step into his door."
"Well, I'm pretty sure that my Dad will never see the light in terms of his own behavior and responsibilities - that wall of denial is pretty impenetrable. However, it seems that he's willing to welcome me back whenever I want. That's on the premise that I maintain the status quo (the status quo from when before I started this), which I can no longer do. Maybe with some time behind me, I'll be able to have lunch with him and just let things slide, but for now I need to stand my ground."
Robert is not a Christian and this impedes his healing. Also, as a person who stutters, this too impedes his healing for overcoming stuttering requires a lot of work and practice with a big part of it being the uncovering and healing of the negative mental frames around the stuttering. As an example, below are the negative frames that I elicited from him just this past week in our phone session (after the emails).
During last week's phone session with Robert and after our email exchange, Robert told me, "I have a horrible father. He is a narcissist. He is driven by deep demons and he messed up his 5 children." Knowing that Robert was really experiencing anger towards his father (necessary for the therapy), I asked Robert what he was feeling.
"I am angry, really angry. There is more work to be done. I have a sense that there is more pain to feel." (Robert must discover and experience the pain before he can reframe it away.)
I used a pattern that we call "The Drop-Down Through Pattern" to elicit the negative mental frames around his anger towards his dad which has a significant impact on his stuttering.
"Robert, feeling that anger now, as you drop-down through the anger, what thoughts-feelings do you experience underneath it?"
"Anxiety about it. It is the same anxiety I felt as a child of 5 or 6 years old. I sense that it could be earlier than that." (Anxiety is one of the major triggers of all stuttering.)
"And, what do you experience below the anxiety?"
"I sense me as a 5 year old sitting on the stairs again. I am not involved. Mom and dad are in the living room but they won't let me in there. I am on the stairs and I am on my own."
I continued asking Robert to drop down through each one of the negative emotions as they came up. Here is what we found attached to the anger and anxiety:
The same loneliness I suffer from today. I cannot socialize."
loneliness. There is more of it."
- I 'block' it out! It is this same numbness that keeps me from having a
loving relationship with a girl."
is all I knew as a child."
5. "I see that
picture of me as an infant rubbing my feet together (This came up in an earlier
session.). No one would pick me up and hug me and play with me. No one
would touch me so I touched myself."
6. "It is in
my stomach. I feel a 'scream' being repressed. It is the little
me 'blocking' what he is feeling. It is the same thing I do today when I block
7. "I want to
scream and be heard. I was never heard. The 'scream' is crusted
over. It is 'pain' that has grown stagnant. It gets 'toxic'. 'Pain is
(I asked Robert the origins of this pain.)
8. "I see mother's
breast but I can't get to it. I am not as close to her as
I wanted to be; as I need to be. It is that ever present being 'tensed'
up." (There is always tension before blocking speech.)
9. "I am now
sensing that the lack of physical closeness is directing me back
to it. The image of mother's breast went away."
10. "There is a sense of turmoil." (Robert blocked on the word 'turmoil'. I asked him what was behind the turmoil that caused him to block on that word and he said, "Turmoil implies pain. I block on words that imply pain from the past - on things not right in the past."
(Such words become what people who stutter call, 'feared words" for they will block almost every time on them so they will find 'substitute words' that they can pronounce for 'feared words'.)
11. "I repressed what I did as a child.
Bob, I sense a need to make child noises." I said, "sure, go
ahead." Robert starting making baby sounds - sounds of a baby in pain.
This is a key way that he releases pain and he has done this in previous
12. "The phrase 'I hate my mother'
popped into my head."
13. "Anger, loneliness, isolation, self-hate, 'I
wasn't bonded to her when I was tiny'. I was not physically bonded to
14. "I don't feel safe." (The need
to feel 'safe' is a primal need of all humans.)
15. "I don't know what is underneath that. I sense a
need to regress to that age. I need to start at age 2. I see
myself on the floor."
16. "I have a happy smile on my face. I see myself as
a 1 year old; sitting on my bun. There is something nearby and I am playing and
17. "I am of the same age being in bed feeling
alone. It is night time. This is the first time that I have seen myself
at night." I inquired, "Does this trigger any emotions?"
18. "I don't feel any emotion. There is something
behind it - it is about not being involved; not being played with." Bob,
"Are there any emotions?"
19. "I have a sense of my feet being tickled.
It is like that image of my mother's breast. I don't think my feet were
actually being tickled. I wanted it to happen or to happen more."
20. "I have a sense of being at somebody's feet and
they are ignoring me. It is about their feet - they are ignoring me. I have a
small fetish about feet. It isn't anything gross. But I do like kissing a girls
feet. It puts me in a 'subservient' position. That is what it is
21. "I had a nervous twitch in my back. It is a semantic gesture. It is a sign that we are talking about something correct. I am feeling angry again."
22. "I am being ignored. (Long pause) I
have a debilitating sense of coldness caused by my
23. "There is a rigidity in me setting
in about an early age as a defense against the coldness."
24. "I am in the crib alone. No one
comes to play with me" (a recurring theme).
25. "My universe is about loneliness. Nobody
came and picked Robert up and held him close to their chest."
26. "I am feeling anger, agitation
(pause - Robert makes noises of a baby in pain.). There is pain there as a tiny
child. F...., F...., mom, dad, God, Jesus, etc."
(Robert grew up attending the Catholic Church. Regrettably, he has some really strong feelings against the church and much of it is justified. One client called it "Catholic Guilt". I told that client that Catholics do not have a monopoly on installing 'Bitter Roots'. We Protestant have also done a great job of that with our funDAMentalism, legalistic preaching and teaching. I would estimate that from between 60 and 70 percent of my clients have Bitter Roots installed when they were children from "religion" - not from "Jesus". )
27. "How do you break out of never feeling
warmth? Once this anger goes, what will replace it? If I could feel
warmth, I could get along with my life."
28. "I am so angry. I am blocking
something though. I feel agitation inside of me. It is about a defense
mechanism. Something thinks it is protecting me."
(Robert then starting dropping down through the negative frames rapidly.)
30. "Love! I want love."
33. "My mind."
36. "Baby fingers reaching."
38. "Looking for reciprocation."
39. "The need for warmth and touch."
51. "Lack of touch."
53. "Absence of malice. I know my parents didn't
maliciously do this but as a child I felt like they did."
54. "Being ignorant."
56. "Mommy's touch."
57. "Malice. I felt like the world was a malicious
58. "I felt like it - I blocked the little me is
telling me. 'I am ignoring it. I am being my dad' by repressing
and blocking what happened."
59. "I felt like my parents didn't like me. My
needs were not met. That is debilitating."
60. "I am now feeling OK. I have uncovered something. When I uncover something new, that is good. I can then express it and let it go. Thanks Bob."
End of this phone session. We are scheduled again next week.
Help me pray that Robert will come to know Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior so that when he drops down through his negative emotions, he will drop right into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ who will grant healing to "all" those many 'Bitter Roots" that he is carrying.
Now contrast that with Tina's experience (Fictitious Name):
I mentioned her to you several months ago. I have some really good news. You will recall that Tina entered our training in Anchorage, Alaska. She came into the training with what I thought was a seeing-eye dog - a beautiful German Shepherd. Immediately, I noticed that Tina looked so very sad and terribly depressed. I must admit that I was somewhat concerned about her and about her ability to undertake such an intensive training. As she walked, I immediately recognized that she could see quite well. I knew then that she no doubt had been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and had been provided the dog as part of her treatment. She did have that diagnosis.
We later learned that she had been raped twice - once as a child and then again as an adult. Then, while in Iraq, she was raped by her commanding officer. Being unable to testify at his trial, he was freed of all charges. Tina had to surrender her commission as a Major in the US Army and subsequently lost her benefits as a veteran. She was a Physician's Attendant (PA). Due to her mental condition, she was placed on probation by the medical board for a period of 5 years. She practices in Alaska.
During that first day of our training, my Colleague, Rev. Mike Davis, did some work with her helping her layer her hurt with the Lord Jesus Christ. She was highly focused on the training and one could tell that she was processing the materials as we taught and demonstrated.
The next morning she came into the training without the dog and with a new countenance that one would have to say, "a miracle has happened in Tina's life". Indeed, it had. The Lord over the period of 24 hours worked a great healing in her. The training last 2 full weeks and during that time Tina continued applying the Peace of Christ to that tormented little girl inside her.
December 1, 2008 E-Mail:
"I can't tell you how much impact the information and skills I learned in the Master Practitioner Course has had on me. My reaffirmed identity as a child of God, having all the abilities and talents He has given me, enabled me to walk into a meeting with the State Medical Board and confidently ask to be released from a (non-disciplinary) Memorandum of Agreement.
"My demonstrated character, behavior and patient care and indicate that I am a safe medical provider and an individual who will seek care early if I am presented with challenges beyond my usual coping skills. This request was the result of spending time in the presence of God - an anchor I learned in the class - to take my anxiety and fear to Him. He told me I was fully capable and was free to ask for what I really wanted, which was to be free from what felt like a black cloud of scrutiny...so I asked, and God was faithful and the MOA was rescinded, only two years into a 5 year MOA.
"Thank you for your faithfulness in teaching this material. I am doing my best to pass on what small sliver of knowledge I have to this point to bless others."
I responded thanking her muchly for her kind remarks and stated that I would be utilizing them in promoting the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ. She wrote back December 3, 2008:
"Thank you Michael and Bobby for your encouragement and for rejoicing with me. God does wonderful things in our lives doesn't he? All He needs is just a little cooperation on our part...for me it is a decision daily to let Him be in my brain and control that highest frame. When I do, life isn't always easy, but it is always rich and I discover I actually feel more control--not because I have tried to take it, but rather God has taken me--and that is a much calmer place to be even when a storm is all around me." ("Control" is always a major issue with someone who grew up in a climate where the family and one's life was out of control.)
My, my the difference the "Prince of Peace" can make in our lives as we surrender ourselves, and especially our hurts, to Him. May Robert come to know the "Prince of Peace". And, in knowing Him, Robert will be able to forgive his mother and father. I do believe he is moving in that direction for in this week's session he mentioned knowing that they did the best they could with what they had. Jesus would make all the difference for Robert and for you.
II. The work of the Peace-Maker.
A. First, the Peace-Maker must seek and find peace in his own heart.
Jesus encourage us (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
B. Secondly, the primary charge of the Beatitude no doubt is to establish peace among men.
1. This is not done through the stock piling of weaponry nor the increasing of the police force as necessary as that is to the continuation of a civil society.
2. Two dogs fight until they are worn out. They didn't quit because they were no longer angry; they quit because they were tired.
3. WWII ended because Germany and Japan had no other military choice - the decision most certainly was not based on ethical choices.
How shall man know peace among other men? He shall find it through the "Prince of Peace".
Peace Ship - Colossians 3:15
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called...and be thankful."
A newspaper article once read: "Abie Nathan is leading a new children's crusade! Nathan, who operates a pirate radio station aboard his ‘Peace Ship' in the Mediterranean, has promised to give a scroll with the Biblical quotation from Isaiah, ‘And they shall not learn war any more...,' to any child who smashes his military toys. He has also offered to buy the complete stock of war toys from any store which agrees not to sell them in the future."
Though many people disagree on the way to bring about world peace, most would agree that this man's idea, though optimistic, is not the way to go. In the same way, the world's ideas about finding peace, such as generating more income or exploring various religions, simply do not work.
We have just come through the Thanksgiving Holiday. The Bible tells us that the key to peace is a thankful heart in the midst of trials;
· Thankful that we have a loving and caring God;
· Thankful that He will never leave us nor forsake us;
· Thankful that God is in control.
So instead of trying to create peace ourselves, let us come before the Lord with a thankful heart and have the peace that passes all understanding bestowed upon us.
John MacArthur states:
"But our confident trust in the Lord will allow us to thank Him in the midst of trials because we have God's peace on duty to protect our hearts."
4. Let us be "evangelist" to the world bringing men and women, boys and girls to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. It is impossible for two grown adults mature in Christ to remain in bitter conflict.
III. The Reward of the Peace-Maker: "for they shall be called the children of God."
A. What our Lord is saying in this verse could be stated accurately as "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be doing a God-like work."
B. Let's not let our "yesterdays paralyze our today's." Hill
Every child of God is a
Peace-Maker in that he has made peace with God for himself and is engaged in
bringing the Peace of God through Jesus Christ to others.
D. May God grant this trouble world the knowledge of "Peace" and may it always be in me.
E. By presupposition, this statement of our Lord indicates that if we are not "Peace Makers" then it must be questioned whether or not we know Jesus and if we do, just how much growing do we need to do.
Therefore submit to God.
The eminent geologist, Professor Agassiz, used to conduct research by being lowered over a precipice in a basket. The men who lowered him would weigh the professor before every trip to make sure they could bring him back up. One day, however, they lowered him farther than he had ever gone until all the rope was let out. When it came time to pull him up, the men were unable to do so because they had forgotten to account for the length and weight of the rope itself. The professor had to wait it out on the precipice until additional help arrived.
Every time we refuse to submit to God, we lower ourselves farther and farther over the precipice of sin and rebellion, and it becomes more and more difficult to climb out. Fortunately, the rope of God's mercy is long enough to reach you even in your deepest sin.
If you have bought into the lie that by submitting to God you will miss out on life, understand this: True blessing comes from total submission to the One and only person who desires to bless you beyond measure. Like the father waiting with open arms to receive his long-lost son, your Heavenly Father waits for you with arms full of grace and a life full of blessing.
"The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God's victory over him."
Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.