Building Bridges Not Walls: Learning to Dialogue in the Spirit of Christ

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Building Bridges Not Walls is a practical, biblical workbook that shows you how to respectfully dialogue with people who hold opposing viewpoints.
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Overview


Building Bridges Not Walls is a practical, biblical workbook that shows you how to respectfully dialogue with people who hold opposing viewpoints.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576833940
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/30/2003
  • Series: Quiet Times for the Heart Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


JEFF ROSENAU is founder and president of Accountability Ministries, an organization that uses biblical principles to teach God’s people how to build relationships by dialoguing in the Spirit of Christ. Jeff resides in Colorado and has two grown sons, Rob and Travis; a daughter-in-law, Sandi; and a grandson, Brevin.
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Read an Excerpt

BUILDING BRIDGES NOT WALLS

LEARNING TO DIALOGUE IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST
By JEFFERY ROSENAU

NAVPRESS

Copyright © 2003 Jeffery L. Rosenau
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-57683-394-0


Chapter One

THREE-WAY CONVERSATION

Big Idea: Dialogue with another person will be honoring to God only if we involve Christ in it.

Bible Basis: 1 Samuel 17:32-34,36-37,40,45-47,50; John 15:5-8

Many a Christian has been surprised and disappointed by the negative outcome of a dialogue he was engaged in. A common denominator in almost all those cases is that the Christian tried to interact with the other person on his own, that is, without involving Christ in the situation.

In one sense, of course, Christ is with us all the time, no matter what we do. But it is certainly possible for a Christian to rely on her own resources in a dialogue rather than praying for Christ's guidance and keeping in mind Christ's teachings in the Bible. And that's the road that leads to disaster.

A favorite memory verse for many is Proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." That verse reminds us that our knowledge is as a drop compared to the sea of God's wisdom, and it is silly for us to sip the drop rather than drink deeply from the sea. This is true most particularly in the tricky interactions we have with other people.

In this Building Bridges study, we will look at a boy who knew better than his eldersthat "the battle is the Lord's" and at an analogy of Jesus' that helps us comprehend what it means to remain connected with Him. This Bible basis will show us how to make Jesus the invisible participant in a three-way conversation.

BIBLE STUDY Power with God

I could have chosen any number of Bible passages that illustrate how we have power when we ally ourselves with God and how we are helpless without Him. But two will suffice. As you study these passages, think about the way your dialogues have gone better when you have consciously tried to engage the other person in the power and Spirit of the Lord.

God and One Smooth Stone

Picture this: The Israelite army is on one hill; the Philistine army is on another. Every day a gigantic soldier from the Philistine army, Goliath, taunts the Israelites, urging them to send someone to fight him in one-on-one combat. No one dares, and the Israelites daily become more disheartened. Then a shepherd boy approaches Saul, the Israelite king, for permission to fight Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:32-34,36-37,40,45-47,50:

David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."

Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth."

But David said to Saul, ... "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you." ...

[David] took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine....

David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.... All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands." ...

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

What words would you use to describe the Israelite army before David defeated Goliath?

What words would you use to describe David's attitude?

What reasons did David have for trusting God?

What resources did David have for his contest with Goliath?

What did David accomplish, and why was he successful?

A FRUIT-BEARING BRANCH

Before leaving His disciples to return to heaven, Jesus instructed them on how they could be successful in their spiritual endeavors. For this, the Lord used an analogy that would have been readily understood in a wine-producing country like Israel.

John 15:5-8:

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

In Jesus' teaching, what is the vine? What are the branches? What is the fruit?

What happens when a branch does not remain connected to the vine?

What happens when a branch does remain connected to the vine?

Practically speaking, what does it mean to "remain in" Christ and His words? (Hint: Check out 1 John 2:24 and 3:11.)

Label the vine below with the name "Jesus." Label the branch on the vine with your own name. Label the grapes with the kinds of spiritual fruit you would like to bear as a result of abiding in Christ.

Throughout history, God's followers have known effectiveness beyond their own resources when they have sought to act on God's behalf and with His help. And since the advent of Christ, people who have been connected with the Lord through faith and the Spirit have enjoyed a God-given ability to bear spiritual fruit. This connection is what we need when we engage others in dialogue about issues that matter to us.

* Meditation Verse

Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

PERSONAL APPLICATION

The Third Man and His Plan

As stated in the introduction, building bridges is basically about love. When we involve Christ in our dialogues, we converse with the purpose of showing God's love to our dialogue partner.

This is not love that we "work up" on our own. In fact, we might have few natural reasons to love someone who disagrees with us on an important matter. The love we're talking about here is supernatural love that we receive from Christ and pass on to our dialogue partner. It makes a real difference in how we communicate with others.

Case Study: A Euthanasia Dialogue

Imagine that a Christian is speaking to a nonChristian about euthanasia. The Christian is defending the sanctity-of-life position, which holds that all persons should be protected. The nonChristian is defending the quality-of-life position, holding that if someone is severely ill or otherwise dysfunctional, there is no reason why that person can't be put to death. The conversation starts to get intense.

What words do you think might describe the Christian's attitude if he is approaching this dialogue without Christ (fearful, prideful, inclined to stereotype)?

What words do you think might describe the Christian's attitude if he had prayed for Christ's help and never lost track of the primacy of love (servant, honest, hopeful)?

What would the Christian's priorities in this dialogue be if he is involving Christ in it?

What do you think the nonChristian's reaction might be as she notes the Christian's loving attitude?

You and Christ

Can you think of a time when you engaged someone in dialogue "on your own," that is, without seeking to involve Christ in it? Describe what happened.

Has there been another time when you effectively involved the "third man," Jesus Christ, in your dialogue, thus turning it into a three-way conversation? Describe what happened that time.

What actions could you take to cultivate your relationship with Christ?

Which of Christ's teachings do you think is wise to have fresh in one's mind while approaching a dialogue with another?

How might a current dialogue of yours be different if you were to focus on involving Christ and showing love?

In the space below, write a prayer that you could use to invite Christ's presence and participation in a dialogue with another person.

Group Activity (Optional)

If you are studying the Building Bridges course with others, get together with one other person. First, share about current dialogues you are involved in. Then pray for each other, asking Christ to be present in each other's lives in a powerful way, guiding and blessing as you dialogue further, with the goal of bringing glory to God.

MY COMMITMENT:

Big Idea Review

Our dialogue with another person will be honoring to Gad only if we involve Christ in it.

Bridge To God

Lord, I see now haw I have too often approached a conversation without seeking to involve You in it. I have relied on any own all-too-inadequate resources and the dialogue process has suffered as a result. Forgive me for this mistake and help one in the future to always seek to engage others in Your power and lave. In Christ's name, amen.

Coming Up

Get ready for the still more challenging subject of surrendering one's goals for a dialogue and accepting in their place God's goals. He might be wanting to do something different in one of your relationships-something that has never occurred to you!

(Continues...)



Excerpted from BUILDING BRIDGES NOT WALLS by JEFFERY ROSENAU Copyright © 2003 by Jeffery L. Rosenau. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
The Need for Christ-like Dialogue
What Christ-like Dialogue Is About
The Development of Christ-Like Dialogue
Part One: Returning to God
Entrusting Oneself to God Before Initiating Dialogue
Section 1: Trust - Will I Go Alone or Will Christ Go with Me?
Section 2: Surrender - Am I Willing to Surrender Control of the Outcome to God?
Section 3: Conformity - Will I Respond As Christ Would to People Who Disagree with Me?
Part Two: Becoming Christ's Disciples
Learning to Dialogue in the Spirit of Christ
Section 1: Deceit is the Goliath of Our Day
Section 2: Instruct Gently Those Who Oppose You
Section 3: Always Remember You Are Forgiven
Section 4: Listen Without Judging Others
Section 5: Only Trust and Obey
Section 6: Grace Before Truth
Section 7: Underlying Motive Must Be Love
Section 8: Everyone Should Be
Quick to Listen
Slow to Speak
Slow to Become Angry
Section 9: Preparing to Dialogue
Preparing to Dialogue
Guidelines for Dialogue
Accountability
Appendix
Stories from Scripture
Scripture References
Information on Training and Materials
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