Learning the Language of Peace

Ok, so here’s the thing.  Two years ago when I traveled back to the Holy Land, I didn’t know where the West Bank was.  West Bank of what?   And if the West Bank is so important, what’s up with the East Bank?  Anything?


I didn’t know what, where, or why the settlements were so controversial.  The Nakba? Is that a type of falafel?  It was all Greek, (or, more accurately, Hebrew) to me.

I didn’t know the mean things Muslims had done to Christians, or Christians had done to Jews, or Israelis had done to Palestinians.  Or what everyone had done to everyone else. Continue reading

Starting in Tel Aviv

Good morning from Tel Aviv!  I wrote on Monday that I’m going to be traveling in Israel/Palestine this week. It’s a trip devoted to entering into the heart of God for peace and reconciliation. Today we’ll spend some time here and in Nazareth.

We just arrived last night so I’m a little fuzzy, but I’m wondering if you might want to join me virtually.  I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post or how much time I’ll have to reflect, but this morning here was my view from the top of our hotel as I soaked in the goodness of God (that’s pretty easy to do with this view, sunshine and 70 degrees).


As I sat here, these are the words I read.  As you read them, what words stand out to you? Continue reading

Changing the Conversation

Last night most of America was watching the Oscars...the red carpet beautiful people who seem to be as good at dodging questions as a politician running for office.  Many questions the press hurls at them are inappropriately personal or just stupid.  Who wouldn’t want to avoid some of that?  But there are other times when changing the conversation is positive, and important to growth.

This afternoon I’m leaving on a trip to Israel/Palestine.  I’m traveling with a few people from our church, led by Telos, an organization we’ve been partnering with that desires to engage evangelicals in conversations with Israelis and Palestinians pursuing peace.

This is hard stuff.  Complicated and intense and emotional, and personal for so many.  Frankly, I might prefer it if Jesus invited me to follow Him into, say…Hawaii maybe. Continue reading

What Hagar Taught me About Peace, part 2

 I thought it might be timely to share two posts from a couple years ago. Here’s the second.

Some things are just tough.

Like figuring out why people are fascinated with Snooki, or how to fold fitted sheets, or what makes some people able to eat a kabillion Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and not gain a pound.

Or, you know…how to achieve peace between all the people in all the places.

When it comes to the Middle East I keep wanting to say, “Lord I’m a bear of Very Little Brain” like Winnie the Pooh.

I have a long way to go, but God is patient and often a theme gradually emerges.  Yesterday I wrote

The truest thing I’m learning about peace is that keeping people at a distance makes it easy to demonize them.

But coming close topples the walls of misunderstanding.

This morning God reinforced this as I re-read the story of when God comes close to Hagar. Continue reading

What a Drive-By Taught me About Peace in Israel

Peace.  We hear a lot about it.  Or the lack of it.  We talk about it when we talk about the Olympics.  Or Syria.  Or anywhere there’s been a shooting at a mall or school.  In a few weeks I’m heading back to Israel/Palestine with an organization called Telos that has the goal of working with evangelicals to help positively trans­form the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  They are pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, and pro-peace.  I thought it might be timely to share two posts from a couple years ago. Here’s the first.

Last week I was driving around running errands, preparing for our daughters to arrive for a visit and for me to leave for Israel/Palestine.  I changed into the left lane to zip ahead of an old blue-green mini station wagon.  As I accelerated past I noticed the car was significantly bashed in as if from an accident.  A man was driving the car, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone.

Confession.  Here are the three thoughts that went through my head:  This guy is irresponsible, unsafe, and makes unhealthy choices. Continue reading

Peace in the Middle East and at Starbucks, the Sequel

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
Orson Welles 

I shared the beginning of a story last week and today, the tide of the war has turned once more.  This morning usurper guy was back in “my” spot.  I think he may have looked a tad guilty as I walked by.


John says he thinks it’s more like an illegal immigrant situation than a land fight in the Middle East.  He blames our friend Cory, the barista, or “border guard” for letting usurper guy slip through.  Cory says he just turned his back for a minute…took a break.  He doesn’t want to take responsibility for losing ground on his watch.

I sit at my “less than best” table and look longingly at what I’ve lost.  But then I screw up my courage, walk over, introduce myself.  I try to make small talk. Continue reading

Peace in the Middle East and at Starbucks

You see, I have this table at Starbucks.  It’s mine“.  Everyone knows it’s my office of sorts.  Every morning I arrive early and work there for several hours.

The toddler who peeks around the corner each day looking to share his cheese crackers with me knows where I am.

The ever-present chatty Brit – the “Norm” of our “Cheers” knows where to find me.

Mark, the doctor, stops by to say “hi”.

Anyone who ever meets with me ever knows where to come.

I like to think it’s a place where kingdom work is being pursued.

And I like to think there’s a special ambiance or aura around my table.  I feel more inspired when I sit there.  It’s comfortable.  I can spread out.  And it’s the perfect distance from coffee and people.  Close enough to be convenient, and far enough to not be interrupted too much.


So here’s the problem. Continue reading

When a “Good” Fight Goes “Bad”

The other day I wrote about “good” fights.  The times when somehow, against all odds, and all our emotion, and in spite of our bent towards holding grudges, with God’s help, we address conflict and come out on the other side…Maybe more whole.  More compassionate.  With a better understanding of grace.  With a little clearer picture of redemption.

I outlined some steps that have been helpful to me, but…”1,2,3 steps” are always dangerous.  I really wish we lived in a “1,2,3 voila!” world, but we don’t.

What about when a “good fight” goes bad?  

Many years ago when I was first learning about what Jesus would ask of me regarding conflict I had a situation with a neighbor friend involving our kids.  I really, truly felt I had gone through each of the steps to handle our disagreement in a healthy way.

I prayed like crazy!  I examined my heart and thought I owned my part!  I was calm for Pete’s sake!!    I was warmly assertive and humble, darn it!

We sat at my kitchen table and you know how she responded? Continue reading

Good Fights

I think I had a pretty good fight recently.  Not great, but it was progress.  Let me backtrack.

Someone did something that made me, well… furious!


I grew up in a home where there was very little conflict, and when there was, we ignored it.

You know, like a kid who thinks if he closes his eyes no one will see him.  So conflict’s not really been my thing.  It’s had to be a growing edge for me as an adult.

And I’ve done it wrong. A. Lot.

When someone said something thoughtless, or did something mean, or (gasp!) was controlling or dismissive or disagreed with me…

I’ve done the angry email thing and the passive-aggressive thing, and the withdraw and punish thing…

See, I told you I was bad at this!

But the other day, once I settled down, I experienced a tiny (and I mean tiny) victory.  Continue reading

One of the Hardest Verses in the Bible and Why it’s Important

John said, “I think you need to do a Matthew 18:15.”

No, no, NO!  Anything but that!  Not that Uncomfortable Thing.  Not that Truth-Telling thing.  Not admitting that someone has the power to actually ding me.

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.” Mt. 18:15, 16 MSG


Those are some of the sentences I’d like to cut out of my Bible.

Continue reading