Well done, Mr. P

Mr. P was being sued to replace what the owner thought was faulty equipment.  Though

Christian symbol: This symbol was used primari...

Christian symbol: This symbol was used primarily amongst Christians in early church history (1st and 2nd century A.D.) etc etc… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the  owner was quick to say he thought Mr. P had done all he could, he just didn’t think Mr. P could fix it.  So he had told Mr. P not to come back, and he filed a lawsuit.  Now Mr. P is a working guy with a regular job and does this work on the side.

There was something about Mr. P, even though the owner was completely irate and there was no question in his mind that Mr. P should have to pay him and replace the equipment, he still acted like he wanted to be friends.  Mr. P stayed calm, and stood his ground… he never got loud and though these were some serious allegations with some potentially serious consequences, he never returned the attack.

This thing took some time… the owner was pretty much convinced that the judge would have to award in his favor but honestly, that wasn’t very likely.  You ever see those folks who just seem to be a peace… not in a cocky or arrogant way… but just at peace with whatever happens?

During a break, I asked Mr. P “what if the judge rules against the owner, and decides that you owe him nothing, would you go back and fix it anyway?”

“Absolutely,  I’d be glad to fix it… that’s what I’ve been trying to do… and to me the winning or loosing in court isn’t what matters… I’m supposed to do all I can to bring him (the owner) to the Lord… his salvation is the most important thing.”  Somehow this was the response I expected from Mr. P, and he delivered.

They decided to let Mr. P go back and fix the equipment… the owner even made a statement to the effect of them both being Christians, ‘like they’ve talked about a few times’.  Sounded like Mr. P had been working on him already.

I mentioned that Mr. P is a working guy, he’s not a preacher… not a deacon or elder that I know of.  He’s not a public figure or politician or anything like that.  Mr. P is an ambassador for Christ, I wish I could publish his name here but I can’t.  His name is written down where it matters most.  Mr. P isn’t just a hearer, not so much a talker, but is a doer with a mission.  I hope I get to see Jesus tell Mr. P  “well done, my good and faithful servant”.

Now… go and great and wonderful things… and Peace Y’all

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Surely, we were right?

Thinking RFID

Thinking RFID (Photo credit: @boetter)

So in that situation last week, or maybe it was yesterday, anyway you know the one. Each one of us thought we had the right answer.  What we heard was the statement he made, and we reacted.

We defended what we believe, we almost went so far as to tell him that he was just flat out wrong, or crazy.  Some of us were insulted that he was wasting out time, some thought we should straighten him out.  Some laughed at him.  We engaged as though we were in an argument or that we had to correct this misguided soul.  Some thought it was silly, others decided they wouldn’t participate any more since this wasn’t what they were there for.

The statement started out as a question.  We were answering what we thought was the question, and we failed to get enough information to understand the situation.  We might have been thinking more of ourselves, and less of him.  We might have lost a friend, or worse yet turned a believer away.

I have a suspicion that we missed the answer, and that the Holy Spirit was involved in the original issue that brought on the question / statement.  So, what did we miss?

Peace Y’all…

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Mediating Biblically…101

So, what’s the difference in mediating and mediating Biblically?

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

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There is no lack of debate regarding what mediation is or should be.  Many believe that the purpose of mediation in to resolve cases, to get them settled whatever it takes.  Many believe the purpose of mediation is to benefit the courts.  There are those who believe the “feelings” of the parties should be left somewhere else, that mediation is to deal with the issues of dividing assets, or establishing a value of loss, or whatever the parties have filed as demands in their case.  There are also those who are of the opinion that only folks with certain degrees should be mediators.

The differences go on and on, and interestingly, as a whole mediators can’t agree on a clear definition, mainly because we are often trying to hem up something that maybe shouldn’t be hemmed up.  Maybe we should each be more truthful in relating how we each operate,  just a thought.

How we operate is most likely determined by who we perceive to be either our market or our boss.  Like most anything else, it depends on what is most important to us.  And yes, our background and training play into it.

So, for those who are Christians, some questions:  Are we giving God the opportunity to work through our work?  Are we giving God the opportunity to use us in connecting Him and His Word to the situations and people we are working with?  Do we even know where to start?

Let’s start with the principle of reconciling man to man, and understand that we are also to reconcile man and God.  Mediators have a pretty good understanding  of the pain people are going through, sadly many mediators are taught to minimize the “emotional stuff” and get to an agreement.  An agreement doesn’t necessarily reconcile anybody to anything.

In the same way that you look for openings for points of possible agreement between the parties, look for opportunities in reconciling man to God.  Look for opportunities to encourage the parties, to support them, and sometimes even to challenge them.

Pray.  Yes I do, I pray for wisdom and discernment, for the courage and tact to challenge people in a way that encourages them to consider the big picture.  I pray that God will allow me to be a benefit in these peoples lives, and that His Holy Spirit will be present in the room.  I don’t open mediations with a mandatory prayer or anything like that, but if the parties ask if we can pray, I’m fine with it.

We haven’t tried to reinvent the mediation process, though in some ways we are much less formal that other mediators.  We don’t do as much “reality checking” based on what the court might do as other mediators.  We look for what is important to the parties; for some it is their family, some their church, some their social world, and we work within what is important to them.  Most folks don’t live their lives for the law, they try to live within the law, but it’s not their driving force.  We don’t ignore the law, we have to operate within the world of the law, and do it as Christians.

Even in court connected mediations, actually often, someone will open the door.  “Well, I’m a Christian, and God’s gonna get you for treating me like this” or “I make extra money as an evangelist, but that shouldn’t count as my income”,  there’s your opening.  Use your mediator skills, “tell me about your work as an evangelist…”  and “have the two of you followed what The Bible says to do to resolve these issues?”

Let me share one example.  Two men in a court connected mediation, both Christians and both have lawyers.  During the mediation we find that the men attend the same church, and that this lawsuit is causing problems in the church. One of these has sued the other in court. Could it be that these guys are the ones causing the problems?  I take them to I Corinthians 6, for a little “reality check”.  Now you get there and understand what this open court battle does to their witness as a Christian, you help them realize the collateral damage at home, at work , at church, even at the country club.

We use our little brochures to show them what The Bible says.  We have done mediations in court rooms and often there is a Bible there. I can tell you it’s a different mediation when The Holy Spirit is there. Our “reality checks” tend to be from a Biblical perspective, we try to focus on what Christ would have people do,  and look toward the Eternal results, blessings or consequences.  Believe it or not, you can still help resolve the issues that brought them there.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that every mediation will have everyone doing what is right.  Some will even confess that they know what they are doing is wrong, or will continue to justify their actions is some way, and will do it anyway.  But I am telling you that you will see some amazing things happen.  If you got into mediation to help people, and you are a Christian, you will be greatly challenged and rewarded, at the very least in your heart.

Peace, y’all…

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Who are YOU supposed to be?

I wish I had been prepared for that question.  Fortunately, in this instance it was just a deputy who was asking.  For some reason his question just hit me wrong, it probably had something to do with the way he asked it.

See, I was walking up to where the wreck had happened, my son had called me and told me to come.  He wasn’t in the wreck but his truck was, he had let a friend drive it.  But, at the time I didn’t know all of that, all I had heard was “wreck” and “come”.

I don’t think I told the deputy who I was supposed to be.  At the moment, I was only concerned about my son, not the deputy.

But it’s one of those things that bring to light an opportunity.  I will have a better answer next time somebody looks down their nose and grunts “who are YOU supposed to be”.  Oddly enough, we get to answer that question every day to the people we come in contact with.  Usually it’s just not asked in such a condescending way.  But people make judgments and decisions about who we are, in their eyes.

So before someone else asks, answer the question for yourself; who are you supposed to be? And does it show?

Peace Y’all

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The Way to Resolve Conflict

A bible from 1859.

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“Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another.

What if there was a clear cut way to resolve the conflicts we have, without hiring lawyers to file lawsuits in court?  What if there was a process outlined by the One you trust with your soul, your salvation? Would you trust it?  Here are the steps in the process, straight from the Book of Matthew 18:15.

1. Go to the other person.  Meet with them, explain the situation, give them your point of view.  Listen to theirs, ask questions, make sure you understand their perspective.  Do all you can to get things resolved.  Keep it just between the folks involved, don’t go talking to everybody else about the problem.

2. If that doesn’t work, and you don’t reach some agreement or get things where you an both live with it, take one or two others with you and go back.  Meet again, this time with some folks that can add something to the meeting.  This might be someone who saw what happened, or it could be someone who can really help facilitate the conversation and help in negotiations.  At this point a skilled mediator, operating within a Biblical framework can be extremely beneficial.

3. If that fails, tell it to the church, and let them decide the issue.  Some churches have in place methods and panels to deal with just such a situation.  Many churches don’t or are limited in what they do.  Essentially, this amounts to an arbitration, with the parties agreeing to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator.  Some Churches may have folks trained and available to serve as arbitrators, or at least know where to find them.

4. And if they refuse to abide by the decision of the church, treat them as a heathen or a tax collector.  There are churches that excommunicate members, and there are those who simply treat the one who will not do as the church decides as one who is shunned.  No church wants to wants to go through this, or have it’s members put in that position.  This should be seriously considered before getting to this point.

There you go, that’s it.  Now there are those who will tell you that if one person refuses to do as the church says you are free to sue them, I don’t find that in The Bible.  In fact, the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians, is pretty clear; Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” Paul goes on, “I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!”

Paul sounds pretty serious about this, if fact he states “Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.”

Think Paul is wrong?  Take a day and go to court, just go and watch.  You will see Christians tearing each other apart, using every available legal tool to do it.  You might even get a glimpse of the collateral damage done.  You will see Christian lawyers showing out thinking that will bring them more business, lying (that’s what the rest of us call it), accusing, and acting in ways that are just downright embarrassing. In court we look like the rest of the “it’s all about me” world.  We are greedy, selfish, vengeful, and inflict whatever pain we can to “win”.  What a sorry witness we are to other Christians, and even worse, how do we look to those who need Christ as their Savior?

As tough as it is to do, the Biblical process is what we are supposed to use.  Take care of these things and move on.  Be reconciled, live in peace, what a concept.

Peace y’all

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A Simple Plan…Tough to Execute…

English: Saint paul arrested

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So, do you trust God, or do you just say you trust God? The teachings of The Bible concerning resolving conflict revolves primarily around three scriptures, of course there are many more supporting scriptures, and numerous “how and why” verses that coincide with the subject.

In the Book of Matthew Chapter 18:15, we are told that when we have some problem with others, go to them first, in private, and try to get things worked out.  If that fails, take one or two with you and go again, if that fails, tell it to the church and let them decide the issue.  Really a simple process.  If you know that someone else has a problem with you, look at Matthew Chapter 5:23, you will find essentially the same plan.

Now, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that we shouldn’t be resolving our differences in court, in fact he says that it is already an utter failure for us if we take a brother to court.  In fact, it would seem that it is better to be wronged and live with it than to go to court against each other.  Odd sounding concept, but what could be the reason?  Maybe our own soul, our witness as Christians to the souls of others, is greater than anything we might gain in court.

Now, to be sure there are situations that are to be handled by the courts.  Now, I am sometimes confused, but 1 Timothy 1:8-11 speaks about the law: this is the law of Moses and it applies to civil society.  In any case it says that the law is for the lawless, the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for Murders, fornicators, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, etc.  Seems it could apply either way, do we question whether murders, kidnappers or perjurers should be dealt with by the courts for the good or protection of society?  I don’t think there is any doubt that the courts serve a necessary role.  We can’t overlook the fact that God expects justice, and there are consequences for our actions.

Interestingly, there are an awful lot of folks who have no idea what the Bible says about handling conflict.  We see it all the time, people thinking that the Bible says to pray about it, or discuss it with your pastor, or your wife.  Often those that know what the Bible says still won’t do it.  See, this stuff ain’t easy, it’s tough to sit down with someone and work things out.  That may explain why people run to lawyers.  Now I’m not against lawyers, they come in real handy for murders, thieves, kidnappers and such.  Anyway, it’s not me who says to get it worked out and stay out of court, it’s Jesus and Paul!  And if you trust Jesus with your soul, do you think you can trust him about this whole court thing?  And if you trust Paul to lead the way in the New Testament, can you trust him on this?

Y’all think about it, peace…

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Another Pastor Goes to Court…

“I’m a pastor and I really resent you challenging me like that; I always do what’s right.”

English: Their are thousands of artworks creat...

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That’s what the man said.  This is after I’d told them that in mediation you have an opportunity to do “what’s right” regardless of “who’s right legally”.

Really, pastor?  Sorry, but I must challenge you further.  There’s only one reason I didn’t in mediation, apparently you needed to experience court.  You needed to go in front of the judge and tell him how you were right “under the law”.  How’d that work out for ya?  I understand you weren’t happy that it was gonna cost even more money to appeal, but hey, that’s the way the law is.  You know how court works.  Right?

I didn’t challenge you further, not because you’re a “pastor”, but because of the hardness of your heart.  Some might call it a religious “spirit”, or being unteachable.  Did you forget that Jesus said, when you are at the altar, and remember that your brother has something against you, first go and make it right with your brother and then come back and make your offering to God?

Did you notice that there were others in the court room watching you? “Are you kidding, is he really a pastor, I wouldn’t go to his church…” one observer said.  Another said “he was trying to use the church to pay his personal expenses”, what a witness, “pastor”.

The apostle Paul had a little to say as well, “I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” 1 Corinthians 6:5-9 NKJV

So, what if he’s not your brother?  Who is your Brother?  Surely I don’t have to explain that concept, now do I?

Again, what a witness for a Christian to go to a non-believer and work it out.  Even if it means you might get cheated, do it to be a witness for Jesus.  Remember the whole WWJD thing that was so big a while back?  But you, dear pastor, refuse and now intend to appeal to Superior court, thinking you have some legal rights to prove or defend.  Here’s a challenge for you, pastor, be a doer of The Word, not a preacher only!  You’re not going to like court.  As Granny used to say “Ain’t no good gone come of that.”  I really do hate it when that happens.

Now, I’ve got a long over due phone call to make.

Peace y’all

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What’s Mediation got to do with it?

English: The Heap of Witness, as in Genesis 31...

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Can’t get it done, just between the two of you? In the Book of Matthew (5:23-26 and 18:15-18), we are told that if we go to our brother to resolve an issue and he won’t listen, we go back taking one or two with us, that every word may be established.  Now, this can be as witnesses either to what has happened, or witness as to what is said, it can also be to help the folks communicate.  Ever feel like you aren’t being heard until someone helps you say something in a different way?  How about your own lack of hearing until someone other than the one you have the problem with says the same thing.

When we have a problem with someone, communication becomes even more difficult.  It might get loud, or completely quiet, we might be talking at the same time and neither can hear.  We might not be saying something the way we mean it, they might not be understanding what we are saying.  It is easy to miss what is really important to the other person.  It can difficult to keep up with a number of issues.  And it can be almost impossible to see what is really going on.

A good mediator will be able to help both parties communicate, so that they are clear in their hearing and in conveying thoughts.  She can work with both parties, coaching on how to make a point or even serve as a sounding board to make sure we get it. She can aid in maintaining a safe and productive atmosphere, and keeping conversation on track.  She can help with clarifying our interests, and bringing out the issues important to each of us.  If some resolution might require some brainstorming, or going through what options we have, she is there.  She can help you come to agreement, or even to agree to disagree peacefully.

As you might suspect, in a conversation like this, confidentiality plays a large role, as does our right to shut it down if we need to.  Flexibility in the process, do we meet just once or several times?  How about not being forced or even coerced into some settlement?  This is an opportunity to make decisions for yourself, not having someone else decide the matter.  You can take as much time as you need, you can call call or confer with whoever you want, whenever you want.  You can get your lawyer, accountant, or any other adviser to review any agreement before you sign it.

Biblical?  You can resolve it out of court, get some resolution you can live with, and keep or reestablish a relationship.  Sounds pretty good so far.  You can do this without getting everybody else involved, and even without them having to be “witnesses” or taking sides.  You don’t have to have your name in the newspaper, you don’t even have to talk bad about the other person. You might even learn something you didn’t know!

Who knows, you might even “restore a brother”, or bring one in.

Peace y’all


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“Business is Business”

Business is Business.”  Somehow this phrase is used to release us from any spiritual commitments or consequences.  To declare that business is separate and distinct from what we are called to be and do is clearly a deceit.

The “business is business” line is widely used to excuse our actions when we deal with others, like buying a house or car from someone at ‘a steal’ because of their misfortune and selling it for more than it is worth to an unsuspecting, trusting buyer.  Or buying what we can’t afford and later filing for bankruptcy. Our justifications are easy when we can shift from Sunday morning to ‘business is business.’

On Sunday morning, we know that we are supposed to help that brother through their misfortune; on Monday we treat them like bums.

On Sunday morning, we are thankful that God is true to forgive our sins through Jesus; on Tuesday we help spread rumors of our competitors’ horrid practices.

On Sunday morning, we come together and worship as Christians; on Wednesday we falsely accuse someone to make ourselves look bigger.

On Sunday morning, we praise the Lord for our good fortune; on Thursday we rob our neighbor by taking advantage of some loophole contract language.

On Sunday morning, we trust God and believe that He is in control; on Friday we file our lawsuits to protect our rights and resolve our problems.

On Sunday morning, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit as our helper; on Saturday afternoon we pat ourselves on the back.

Its just business, it’s just somebody else’s tough luck.  Maybe they have some sin… or need to be taught a lesson. Looking out for number one is just being a good steward, you know!  So we leave church on Sunday morning, leaving behind what we say be believe, who we say we believe in, and who we say we are.

That’s just for Sunday, that stuff doesn’t work the rest of the week.  “Business is Business,” our ticket to lie, deceive, cheat, hurt, steal, covet, and profit at someone’s expense.

“Business is Business,” or is it?  What if business is only business?  What if business is our opportunity to live out and to show what Sunday morning is really about?  What if it’s just a test, to see where your heart really is, what you say when nobody’s around?  What if it’s just designed to see if you will apply God’s principles in your business? Are you good with that?

Peace Y’all


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Our Georgia Courts 101

My great friend, Zenas the Lawyer, is trying his best (and he is really good) to explain to me why the laws as written in the law books don’t matter. Now keep in mind, it is I who conclude that they don’t matter, not Zenas.  As “just a person” I see cases ruled on that give the appearance of having no relationship to what the law says whatsoever.  Even those written with the “shall nots’,” and “will not stands,'”  do, and stand just fine.

We are currently dealing with the part about “legislative intent,” best I can tell this means you can go in and argue with the other side about your interpretation of what the authors purpose was in writing a particular law.  We got through the part about “it’s lawyers that make the laws,” and “it’s judges that change them” without a hitch.  Got it!

Now this legislative intent stuff is something else.  Why did they make this law?  What were they trying to solve, and what was their reasoning for writing it this way? In some of these cases, I think it would have been just as effective to have some legislators send out an email to the bad guys asking them to please not do these things, or telling them “y’all go play pretty, now here,” for all the good the laws do.

Case in point: Domestic violence and custody case, the law states that you don’t get to file for a change of custody if you are keeping the child from the legal parent.  So?  Don’t matter, the judge will sign an emergency order changing custody, poof it is done.  And believe it or not, you may not have an opportunity to present any evidence, including that of domestic violence, at all.  Nope, not gonna hear from you. Where is the legislative intent, who cares?  I’m reading this legislative intent stuff, and if the bill writers intended back room deals, they failed to reduce it to writing.  Somehow, Zenas, my great friend, seems to comprehend this in it’s entirety.

There are  judges who don’t even have a current ‘Domestic Violence Bench Book’, I’m not talking about in the courtroom, or even in their office, I mean in the courthouse including the law library.  But, you’ll see them at all the right publicity spots, telling about what they are doing about domestic violence.

Now when a case involves issues like custody, divorce, child support, and domestic violence some judges seem to get confused, like you just can’t do that all at once.  Folks, if a judge can’t follow this, is there any wonder I can’t understand why the laws don’t matter?

Yuck! I’ve got to go shower again now, and see if I can wash some of this stink off.  Zenas, my great friend, make another pot of coffee and I’ll be back in a bit.  Got to get back to work on how to get folks to understand there is a better way, The Way.

Peace Y’all

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