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Conflict Resolution


Educational Leadership

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

The Perfect Model


Diane Rodd

The purpose of this paper is to examine the gospel accounts of Jesus Christ and His approach to conflict and His methods of conflict resolution. His teaching during conflict and His behavior when in conflict will be the primary focus. When love is the highest goal in resolution conflict, then Father God is pleased to reveal to us and others that we are indeed His sons and daughters. Jesus teaches, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt 5 :9).

Conflict Resolution in

Educational Leadership

Families Honoring Christ

"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart
and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Earl & Diane Rodd
6044 Pine Creek St. N.W. North Canton, OH 44720

Phone: (330) 305-9318

1st edition - May 2005

Permission is granted to copy this article for personal sharing
but not for sale or other commercial purposes.

FHC is an Ohio based ministry providing information, encouragement
and fellowship to Christian families, natural and spiritual.

Unless otherwise noted, All Scripture quotations are from the

New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1988,

The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Additional copies of this booklet may be ordered from FHC by writing to the above address. The price is on the back cover of this booklet. Please add $1.50 for shipping regardless of the number of copies. A full listing of other books and booklets on related topics is also available from FHC at the above address.

Conflict Resolution


Educational Leadership

The purpose of this paper is to examine the gospel accounts of Jesus Christ and His approach to conflict and His methods of conflict resolution. His teaching during conflict and His behavior when in conflict will be the primary focus. The rationale for this approach comes from the comment of Jesus who said, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1 :17) and also the Apostle Paul's statement, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1Cor 11 :1). (1)

The goal for a Christian who desires to be effective in the resolution of conflict that surfaces in educational settings is taken from the teaching of Paul found in Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:1
1. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
2. and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

The resolution of conflict for an educator who is a disciple of Christ should not be patterned on the humanistic approach found in the literature on the subject. Two prominent educator-activists in the fields of conflict resolution and emotional literacy claim that public educational institutions must educate the heart as well as the mind. (Lantieri and Patti, 1996). The authors extol Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi while ignoring Jesus Christ, the Creator and Designer of the human heart and the perfect teacher on the subject of the connection between the heart, the mind and verbal communication. Stomfay-Stiz chronologically catalogues man's attempts to bring peace education into school situations beginning with 1828 and provides an excellent compilation for research. Even though the author favorably reports the origins of peace education within denominational churches, she never mentions the name of Jesus Christ, as a historical figure known as the Prince of Peace. The travesty of ignoring the historical Jesus Christ by refusing to examine His character, His ministry of conflict and His ministry of reconciliation is the obvious deception in the world's approach to the problem of conflict. However, for a Christian educator to attempt to educate the heart of a student concerning peaceful resolution of conflict while ignoring the teachings of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit seems woefully inadequate, ineffectual and inconsistent with His statement, "Apart from Me you can nothing" (John 15 :5b).

Therefore this paper is written specifically for the edification of a Christian educator who desires to remain salt and light as s/he walks in the world but is not of the world. Jesus Christ's prayer reveals the conflict a Christian continually has to engage.

John 17:14
14. "I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15. "I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil {one.}
16. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17. "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.
18. "As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
19. "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
20. "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
21. that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, {art} in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.
22. "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one;
23. I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.

Jesus' discourse demonstrates that conflict with the world cannot be avoided. However conflict can be viewed as a method of education allowed by God to reveal the truth of His will, to expose the lies and deception of the world system, and to provide an opportunity for those involved in a conflict to willingly choose to follow Jesus Christ. Graham Cooke writes,

He[Jesus] brings peace to me by His constancy. I feel my heart settling down into Him in the turbulence of situations and events. In crises and conflicts I find myself wanting harmony and love rather than just resolution (Graham Cooke 23).

When love is the highest goal in resolution conflict, then Father God is pleased to reveal to us and others that we are indeed His sons and daughters. Jesus teaches, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt 5 :9).

This paper presents different spheres of conflict that Christ experienced which are also common to most Christians: Family, Ministry, Spiritual, Redemptive, Violent, and Religious. A seventh conflict, Marital, is briefly examined. Even though Jesus was never married while He lived on the earth, He did address marital conflict.

The writer of Hebrews reveals the dynamic relationship that flows between Christ and His followers who experience conflict.

Hebrews 4:14
14. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin.
16. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Family Conflict

Jesus' ministry of conflict was revealed to His parents when He was eight days old through Simeon, a prophet, and recorded by Luke, "Behold the Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed (Luke 2 :34). The Greek word, antilego(483), means "to speak against, to contradict, to oppose." Jesus' humanity was given to the secular world and to the religious world by Father God as a sign of opposition. These words spoken specifically to Mary, the human mother of Jesus, reveal the depths of this conflict: "A sword will pierce even your own soul - to the end that thoughts from many hearts will be revealed" (Luke 2 :35). Thus Jesus was sent to the earth by Father God to oppose the wrong thinking patterns of all human beings. This internal conflict is only resolved by complete submission to God as Creator, Lord, Teacher and Deliverer. Jesus came to reveal the Father of Truth and to expose and conquer the father of lies (John 8 :42-47). (0)

This clash of kingdoms and the superiority of the Kingdom of Light is evidenced repeatedly in the gospel accounts of the New Testament. The resolution of personal and cosmic conflict only comes by submission to the will of Father God. Thus Jesus' next revealed conflict is with his own parents and again it is Mary, His human mother, who experiences the accuracy of Simeon's prophecy.

At the age of twelve Jesus was a sign to "many in Israel" and appeared to His generation to be a rebellious Jewish son. After the celebration of the Feast of Passover, Jesus did not seek His parents' permission to leave the protection of the caravan. They assumed He was among the families of the entourage but discovered He was not with any relatives or acquaintances. Their search throughout the caravan and their return to Jerusalem was not a hidden act. A three day inquiry through the streets of the city ended in Herod's temple where Jesus was a sign of amazement to all who heard His questions and watched him listen to the answers of the teachers of the Jewish people who lived 2000 years ago: "This Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel" (Luke 2 :34a).

Mary and Joseph were astonished by this sight. The Greek word for "astonished" has a much stronger meaning than its English translation. Ekplesso(1605) means "to strike with panic." Why were Jesus' parents in a state of panic rather than blessedly relieved to find Him in the temple engaged in respectful dialogue with His elders? The truth of Simeon's words, "A sword will pierce even your own soul - to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed," was established when Mary spoke to Jesus, "Son, why have You treated us this way?" (Luke 2 :48). Mary, as Jesus' human mother, felt compelled to point out her son's apparent disrespect and dishonor of Jewish law known as the Torah, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Ex 20 :12; Deu 5 :16).

These words reveal that Mary obviously felt, like any human mother, that Jesus had done something wrong to His parents, and if outward appearances were the only standard, Jesus' behavior looked like a disrespectful son who didn't seek and obtain His parents' permission to do what He was doing. He appeared to be a young adolescent entering puberty who was testing His wings with no consideration for the anxiety and worry that his decisions and actions were invoking in His parents who had responsibility for His care and protection. Mary's next words revealed the condition of her own heart and her thinking process concerning Jesus' three day separation from her and Joseph: "Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You" (Luke 2 :48).

Jesus' reply to Mary, His human mother, was a very gentle rebuke and a reminder of His true parentage. His apparent dishonor to the instructions of His mother and Joseph were not in disobedience to His true Father. Jesus' behavior was a sign to His parents and a challenge to Mary's thinking and training as a righteous Jewess living under the Torah. Even though Mary had been visited by an angel, had submitted her own will to the word of the Lord, had been filled with the Holy Spirit while Jesus was growing in her womb and prophesied much concerning Jesus' ministry, she was in conflict with Jesus, her Lord, her God, her Savior, when He had grown to the stature of a twelve year old in a human male body. Mary had momentarily forgotten that Joseph was not Jesus' father. The prophetic word in her own mouth had stated to Elizabeth and to the unseen realm, "He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart" (Luke 1 :51). Mary personally experienced the fulfillment of her own prophecy.

Jesus and the conflict He brought to His mother was not accusatory, condemning, dishonorable, or disrespectful, for Jesus remained sinless until He hung on the cross. Paul states, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Cor 5 :21). Jesus' words to Mary were "the truth spoken in love" (Eph 4 :25). Mary's thinking needed corrected. Therefore Jesus introduced to His parents and to the religious system His overriding love, honor, respect and obedience to His Father. The Father's will always had precedence over the family relationship set forth in the Torah: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deu 6 :5). As an adult, Jesus brought this kingdom truth concerning the cost of discipleship to the Gentile as well as the Jew:

Luke 14:25
25. Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26. "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27. "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28. "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?
29. "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
30. saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
31. "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand {men} to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32. "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace.
33. "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34. "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?

However, Mary and Joseph had this experience of family conflict long before Jesus shared this revelation with His disciples and with the multitudes. Both had laid down their own agendas to embrace the Father's will for humanity, but now more was being required of Mary as the human mother of Jesus. Jesus at twelve was not a rebellious son dishonoring His mother, even though it may have appeared that way to His earthly parents and to others who may have observed this family conflict. He was obeying His Father in Heaven, and thus He was fulfilling the Torah, "Do not think I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill" (Matt 5 :17).

Even though Mary and Joseph had experienced supernatural confirmation before Jesus' conception, through His birth, during His circumcision, and from the visit of the three kings from the east, they didn't seem to remember who He was when He turned twelve. Thus this family conflict occurred to remind them of the reality of His mission of conflict and His ministry of reconciliation. Jesus' public ministry to reveal His Father to the world began with open revealed opposition with His own mother. He says, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" (Luke 2 :49). The NASB side-margin commentary on this verse states that Jesus had to be "in the things of His Father."

Therefore, Jesus and anyone following Jesus will experience conflict with those who forget that Father's affairs and Father's will is always the first priority. Jesus at the age of twelve chose the Father's will knowing it would place Him in opposition to Mary and Joseph and their understanding of the Torah. This open conflict and the exposure of the truth did not resolve the internal conflict of Mary because understanding did not come immediately to her. The next verse specifically demonstrates that resolution to the internal conflict was not immediate for Mary or for Joseph: "They did not understand the statement which He had made to them" (Luke 2 :50).

Mary and Joseph were given sole responsibility to instruct Jesus in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Deu 5 :16), and yet their stewardship could not usurp the Father's sovereignty. When conflict arises in the home, the primary educational setting, or in a school setting, this conflict between Jesus and His parents needs to be re-examined (Luke 2 :41-52), because this narrative reveals conflict between a parent and a child in its purest form. Neither the will of the parent, nor the will of the child, nor the will of educational organization is to be given first priority. Submission to the will of the Father needs to be discerned and then stressed as the common interest of all involved: "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6 :33). According to the authors of Getting to YES the common interest is extremely important for resolution of conflict.

Interests motivate people; they are the silent movers behind the hubbub of positions. Your position is something you have decided upon. Your interests are what caused you to so decide" (Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton, 41).

According to Jesus Christ the common interest for Christians is the will of the Father, "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me" (John 6 :45).

The writer of Hebrews explains the attitude of submission to the Father as an important part of discipline. Open family conflict is an ideal opportunity for all members of the family to be submissive to Father God's discipline:

Hebrews 12:9
9. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
10. For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He {disciplines us} for {our} good, that we may share His holiness.
11. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
12. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
13. and make straight paths for your feet, so that {the limb} which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
14. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

Even though the Biblical record does not reveal another conflict between Jesus and His mother until He turned thirty, it does reveal that peace reigned between them for eighteen years. Although Mary and Joseph may not have understood Jesus' behavior or His explanation, His words arising from their first conflict were deposited into Mary's heart, "And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all {these} things in her heart" (Luke 2 :52).

Even though this family's conflict was openly known to relatives, friends, and the Jewish hierarchy in charge of Herod's Temple, Jesus' reputation as an exemplary son was firmly established and well-known. "Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2 :52).

A Christian in any educational setting may need to be reminded often that any conflict, even that within the family, is always an opportunity to seek the Father's will and to see Jesus as the perfect standard, and to see Mary and ourselves as grace-receivers. Like Mary, our situations of conflict may also need more time, more revelation, and more experience before resolution to the Father's will is understood and can be fully embraced. The patience of the Father and His mercy will bring true peace to the Christian educator who sees family conflict as a blessed opportunity and not as a chilling curse.

Ministry Conflict

The next person with whom Jesus experienced conflict was with another relative, His cousin, John the Baptist. This incident is very valuable for Christian educators to consider when studying conflict because this confrontation reveals a deeper understanding of submission to the will of Father God. John, who was at the pinnacle of his ministry, had been chosen to speak truth to his generation. John's words conflicted with selfish lifestyles, government oppression, military privileges, and religious traditions. His call for repentance was bringing a change in thought patterns and behavior as he restored hope to many who longed for the Messiah:

Matthew 3:11
11. "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
12. "And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Luke 3 :18 records that John the Baptist preached the gospel to the people and was fully aware there was more that Father wanted accomplished. When the More, Jesus of Nazareth, approached John for water baptism, John was unexpectedly placed into conflict. John's encounter with Jesus was not like that of Mary because both Jesus and John were aware that each was obeying the Father's will. John immediately recognized Jesus as "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"(John 1 :29) and instantly submitted to the superiority of Jesus' ministry. John's revelation of Jesus as the Messiah was revealed in his apparent reluctance to baptize Jesus (Mat 3 :14). John, who was keenly aware of his own sin, his own need of repentance, and his own desire for water baptism, balked at Jesus' request. In this interchange of conflict of interest, Jesus' words reveal that He and John are in a joint relationship concerning the Father's will, "But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit {it} at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him" (Matt 3 :15).

When John submits to Jesus' explanation, conflict resolution for both who were obeying the Father is revealed. Likewise conflict can easily be resolved between Christians in an educational setting, when Father's will is the common interest.

John's conflict with Jesus, which appears to be mild resistance to Jesus' will, is an exposure of John's true humility. However, John's humility was also contrary to Father's will. Educators who are Christians need to consider this incident when conflict arises. Often false humility and insecurity are exposed when Christians have a conflict. However, John's humility was not false. It was real, genuine, and sincere, and His conflict with Jesus was necessary for Father's will to be revealed and accomplished. Jesus did not baptize John as John requested. The sinner baptized The Sinless. This ironic twist in John's ministry is a lesson to be learned for Christians who love and serve the Lord in educational ministries: true humility in a conflict will provide the opportunity for more revelation of Father's kingdom. John's words to his own followers reveal the attitude those in Christian education should also maintain, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3 :30).

It is the Father's will and nothing else that is to be considered. Who does what and when is often a source of conflict even for educators who are Christians. Public acclaim and success are often strong motives for a person's activities. In the conflict between Jesus and John, just as with Jesus and His mother, obedience to the Father is the supreme common interest that brings peace or resolution to the conflict. In both conflicts examined, whether family conflict or ministry conflict, the will of individuals is not esteemed. Neither John's will, nor Mary's will, nor Jesus' will were given consideration. It is the Father's will that requires everyone's submission, and this attitude towards an eternal common interest is still the place of true peace in the twenty-first century.

Just as the presence of Christ dispels guilt and condemnation, so should the love of Christ dispel feelings of unworthiness. Nothing should prevent compliance to the will of the Father. Jesus said John's obedience was fitting; it was proper and suitable because it was the Father's specific will. The common interest of the Father's will enabled both John and Jesus to obey Father together, as members of the same human family. It is this common interest that lies at the root of conflict resolution that is successful, "Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?" (Hebrews 12 :9).

John's relationship with the Father was secure enough to handle a change in his perception. Sinners were baptized by John, but then the sinless One confronted and challenged John's perception. John is an example for Christian educators when in a similar kind of conflict. Perceptions always produce behavior. John's perception had to change for Father's will to be done on earth. It was not the water baptism per se, but the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the Father's voice that needed human cooperation. Jesus set the purpose for water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism before all:

Luke 3:21
21. Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,
22. and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased."

Every human being has the right to recognize the voice of the Father personally and be assured of sonship:

John 1:12
12. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, {even} to those who believe in His name,
13. who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The pattern, however, is not just a one-time event. In every conflict situation between Christians the assurance of the presence of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit is the first step to a peaceful resolution. Specific direction from Hebrews states,

Hebrews 12:12
12. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
13. and make straight paths for your feet, so that {the limb} which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
14. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
15. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

Bob Mumford identifies "security, identity and belonging" as three primary essentials for internal peace ("Agape as Reformation" #8 7). Therefore each person involved in a conflict needs to be established in the Father's love so that the will of the Father can be peacefully revealed and embraced.

Conflict resolution training for Christian educators should consider this incident between Jesus and John the Baptist so that conflict in ministry is seen as a place of blessing, an opportunity for a corporate experience of the fullness of God's love to be manifested. (3)

Spiritual Conflict

Jesus moved from family conflict and ministry conflict with human beings to spiritual conflict with one who was not human and had no common interest in the Father's will. The prophet Isaiah reveals this being's internal desire to usurp the role of Father God in every way possible:

Isaiah 14:13
13. "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.
14. 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'

An understanding of Jesus' conflict with the father of lies is necessary for a Christian educator who needs to know how to resolve his or her own personal internal conflict. Bob Mumford has identified seven giants that must be conquered if a Christian desires to walk in the agape love of the Father. (4)

The examination of Jesus' conflict with the devil reveals the internal conflict every educator must face and conquer: the interest of self-promotion rather than waiting upon the Father's promotion. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness experience, and the Holy Spirit will do the same for those who love the Father. Sonship is tested in the wilderness by the father of lies. The primary issue in internal conflict is the rulership of self and satan or the rulership of God, the Father. A son of God, whether Jesus or a Christian educator, is one who chooses the will of the Father: "But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it" (Luke 8 :21).

Neither self-will nor satan's will is to be tolerated. "If you are the son of God, do this...." "If you are a Christian educator, do this...." It doesn't matter what satan suggested to Jesus, He did not submit to the devil's will. It doesn't matter what satan suggests to the Christian, the internal conflict that must be resolved is the refusal to obey any voice other than Father's. Jesus Christ reveals the depth of internal conflict,

John 12:27
27. "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
28. "Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."
29. The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him."
30. Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.

The desire for physical survival, for supernatural exploits, or for worldly authority have not changed with time or with cultures. The educator who is a Christian will face internal conflict on these issues many times just at it presented itself to Jesus many times, "And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time" (Luke 4 :13).

Conflict resolution training for Christian educators must include this incident between Jesus and the devil. For conflict to be a blessing, the conflict within an individual has to be resolved. That conflict resolution comes through the personal revelation and assurance of sonship, and the victorious refusal to have sonship stolen through the lies, manipulation, and deception of the evil one. A Christian educator must understand, desire, and experience power over the devil through the presence of the Holy Spirit on a personal level before the ministry of reconciliation can come forth in educational settings. "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district "Luke 4 :14).

Redemptive Conflict

A review of the gospel accounts into Jesus' life as He walked through the nation of Israel under Roman occupation reveals one conflict after another. Everywhere Jesus went was the Holy Spirit's leading into a conflict so that prisoners could be set free. Jesus' war against the oppression and deception of the father of lies was a continual series of victories with people's freedom as the ultimate prize or goal. The apostle Paul states, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal 5 :1).

This paper does not examine every conflict recorded in the gospels, but conflict resolution training for Christian educators should include an in depth study of conflict and Jesus' teachings and methods in the midst of conflict. A look at Jesus' confrontation with traditions is of vital importance to those serving Christ in education. Traditions, whether those coming from family, society, or religion, have the potential to thwart God's purposes on the earth. Jesus' seemed to enjoy conflict that exposed tradition which denied the Father's will and misrepresented His character and nature: "He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition" (Mark 7 :9). An examination of these encounters is excellent training for a Christian educator to be certain of the supremacy of Father's will over human agenda and human traditions.

The narrative of the paralytic reiterated by Matthew, Mark and Luke reveals Jesus' ability to know a person's thoughts without words revealing them. Mary had prophesied this when Jesus was growing in her womb. She and Joseph were reminded of it by Simeon's prophecy when Jesus was eight days old, and Mary experienced it personally in Herod's temple when Jesus was twelve. Now it was time for Jesus at the age of thirty to expose the spirit of error lurking in the minds of others (IJohn 4 :6). Matthew stresses "evil" thoughts, "Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?" (Matt 9 :4).

Mark and Luke emphasize "reasoning" thoughts:

Mark 2:8
8. And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, *said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?

Luke 5:22
22. But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts?

Jesus' word of knowledge in this incident did not get a violent outward reaction from those whose reasoning was exposed as faulty. This is often true with Christian educators. Any person, student, teacher, parent, custodian, or cook may be received with astonishment, amazement, and gratefulness for wisdom, insight, perception, and understanding. However, open conflict will arise eventually with those who wish to remain unchanged by the challenges that the Holy Spirit brings forth through an individual operating in the word of knowledge. If the Spirit-led person begins to attract a following, open conflict will be exposed by those who have not yet conquered jealousy, envy and greed (IPet 2 :1-3). Thus the focus on Jesus in situations of conflict is important training for Christians who are in educational settings so that resolution has the opportunity to be redemptive for all.

Violent Conflict and Redemptive Resolution

Christian educators often find themselves in violent, dangerous, life-threatening situations. Jesus' approach to violence in a demonically controlled region was not well received by its citizens. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report this incident revealing the connection between violent human behavior and demonic control. Matthew describes the satanic control two men had over the Gadarene community:

Matthew 8:28
28. And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; {they were} so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road.

Mark describes the severity of one man's problem and the community's unsatisfactory human remedy:

Mark 5:3
3. and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain;
4. because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
5. And constantly night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out and gashing himself with stones.

Luke describes the severity of the problem, the root of the problem, and the human inability to rectify the problem:

Luke 8:29
29. For He had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard; and {yet} he would burst his fetters and be driven by the demon into the desert.

Humanistic psychology and psychiatric drugs are the chains and shackles often used in educational settings today to control violent behavior, to calm emotional mood swings, and to assist concentration. Emotional disturbances caused by psychological trauma, chemical imbalances, and brain injuries have been helped by medical research, but reliance on drugs to control the mind and body is not the freedom Jesus gave to the tormented man. Even though medication and the human therapies often impede the violence in the educational setting, the person may not be experiencing total freedom. Dependence upon drugs, even legal ones, is not God's redemptive resolution if satanic interference is the root cause of the destruction of a human mind to control a person who has been created in God's image.

The conflict situations caused by emotional trauma and chemical imbalances that arise in educational settings often generate more conflict. A Christian educator may be surprised to learn that the total freedom of an individual is not a common interest or a shared goal in his or her community. Modified behavior is sometimes preferred to the cost of achieving true freedom for the afflicted individual. What Jesus experienced may happen to anyone in an educational setting when that individual is led by the Holy Spirit to challenge and drive out an unclean spirit who inhabits another person's mind or body to wreak havoc and violence to the person and to others.

Three gospel writers describe a different kind of conflict arising when resolution or freedom came to a person suffering from demonic control. Luke describes the reaction of "great fear" and rejection rather than a response of love and joy. "All the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to depart from them; for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat, and returned" (Luke 8 :37).

Mark also reveals that freedom produces "fright" and rejection of the One through whom the freedom came.

Mark 5:15
15. They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the "legion"; and they became frightened.
16. And those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and {all} about the swine.
17. And they began to entreat Him to depart from their region.

Matthew reveals the unanimous participation of the whole community to reject the Freedom-giver: "Behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they entreated {Him} to depart from their region" (Matt 8 :34).

This incident in Jesus' ministry is an important focus for Christians in educational settings when examining the problem of violence and seeking a solution. Violence in schools still occurs in spite of the courses in peace education, the involvement of peer mediation, the nurses administering medications, and the presence of metal detectors. Conflict resolution training needs to stress that conflict resolution in one area may expose conflict in other areas. Freedom and true peace for a fellow human being may involve a personal cost that some in educational leadership may not be required to pay. However, there may be others who strongly desire for the will of the Father to overpower the will of the destroyer. These may be encouraged and strengthened by keeping their focus on Jesus Christ in very similar conditions and situations that educators face in the twenty-first century. The violent attack of September 11, 2001, on the United States revealed the failure of human diplomatic negotiations with those whose desire for world conquest clashes with the will of the Father. The escalation of conflict and the failure of human solutions is the opportunity for Christian educators to be salt and light with the power of true Christianity demonstrating Christ's victory over demonic forces.

Religious Conflict and Redemptive Resolution

The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees over sabbath prohibitions was another challenge to the Torah as the human traditions of men interpreted it. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all three record Jesus' insistence upon the Father's compassion and love as superior to man's understanding of law and tradition. The picking of grain by the disciples to assuage their hunger and the healing of a man's withered hand by Jesus were purposely done on the sabbath to reveal the Lordship of Christ, the compassion of the Father, and to expose the willingness of human beings to prefer the traditions of men. Mark reveals the Lordship of Christ and the anger and grief Jesus experienced over the demonic control the kingdom of darkness had over a group of people (Mark 2 :23-3 :6). Luke reveals the Lordship of Christ as well as the emotional response of demonic rage in this set of people over the restoration of freedom to a man's useless hand on a sacred day (Luke 6 :1-11). Matthew reveals the Lordship of Christ, the Father's desire for compassion and the surpassing value the Creator places upon a human being over an animal (Mat 12 :1-12).

Conflict in education frequently arises between those who support the theory of evolution and those who know they have been created in the image of God. Conflict also arises between those who outwardly combine evolution with the animistic worship of mother earth and with those who believe that the Father's love for all human beings is far greater than human sympathy or the value placed on animals. This conflict seems endless. Because an evolutionary bias permeates the curriculum in every area of secular education, the study of this one incident between Jesus and the Pharisees can cover many different areas of conflict for educators who are Christian.

Three gospel writers reveal the Lordship of Christ and the demonic intent to destroy the Lord of freedom:

Matthew 12:14
14. But the Pharisees went out, and counseled together against Him, {as to} how they might destroy Him.

Mark 3:6
6. And the Pharisees went out and immediately {began} taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, {as to} how they might destroy Him.

Luke 6:11
11. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

When conflict escalates to the point of demonically inspired emotional outbursts and intent to harm, humanistic conflict resolution theories and practices have no strategy except compromise. Neville Chamberlain's compromise with Hitler in 1938 to avoid war, and Israel's past and present compromise with the Palistinian Liberation Organization to stop terrorism are two historical examples that show the failure of attempting to achieve peace by compromising with men who are ruled by demons. However, Christian history is replete with men and women who chose Christ's path. Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England from 1653-1658 met a Christian statesman who refused to compromise.

George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, outshines all others who claim to be peaceful, non-violent resisters. His life-span of 67 years (1624-1691) not only reveals a man who believed the teachings of Christ but also exemplifies one who was determined to allow Christ to be released through him in his generation. The following quote, taken from The Journal of George Fox, is the Friend's own testimony of extreme religious conflict between two groups of people who both claimed to be obeying God:

Then I was brought into a great hall, where the Protector's gentlemen were to dine. I asked them what they brought me thither for. They said it was by the Protector's order, that I might dine with them. I bid them let the Protector know that I would not eat of his bread, nor drink of his drink. When he heard this he said, "Now I see there is a people risen that I cannot win with gifts or honors, offices or places; but all other sects and people I can." It was told him again that we had forsaken our own possessions; and were not like to look for such things from him (215).

Christian educators have to make firm decisions concerning what issues allow for compromise because of diversity and which ones allow for no compromise because of the absolute standards of Father's kingdom. Often these distinctions aren't clarified for individuals until the conflict arises and then escalates. This should not discourage Christian educators because this is the pattern that emerges in the life of Jesus Christ and in the life of others throughout history and for anyone who chooses to follow in His footsteps in the 21st century.

Conflict based in self-interest and Redemptive Resolution

Conflict resolution has a high cost for a Christian. Those caught in the world's doctrine of origins may not understand the price a true freedom fighter is willing to pay to see Christ's victory set a prisoner free. Because western governments are convinced that the hope of a nation is directly linked to the education of its populace, strands of humanism and evolution are woven into the design of the curriculum of every subject. This causes conflict for a Christian educator for Isaiah prophesied and Jesus confirmed that it is in His name that we hope, and hope often means the removal of the demonic from a person's life:

Matthew 12:18
18. "Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19. "He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
20. "A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory.
21. "And in His name the Gentiles will hope."
22. Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man {who was} blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw.
23. And all the multitudes were amazed, and {began} to say, "This {man} cannot be the Son of David, can he?"
24. But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."
25. And knowing their thoughts He said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
26. "And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?
27. "And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.
28. "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

God as Father and Creator, Jesus as the perfect victorious hero, and the Holy Spirit as the source of help is not offered by resolution experts as the true hope for individuals or warring factions. Those who do not know the Prince of Peace do not how to put their hope in Him rather than trusting in human effort. Christians who are willing to be salt and light in the world without being like the world are in continual conflict. Jesus and true peace cannot be separated. "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16 :33).

The world's focus on man and man's solutions dominate the literature on conflict resolution. This deception of focusing on human interests during a conflict was exposed when conflict arose between Jesus and Peter over two thousand years ago. When Jesus spoke to the disciples about His death and resurrection, Peter directly opposed Jesus. "Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid {it,} Lord! This shall never happen to You" (Matt 16 :22).

This confrontation with Peter gave Jesus the opportunity to expose the satanic personality behind the self-interest humanistic thinking that was deceiving Peter. "He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (Matt 16 :23).

The exposure of the demonic is often necessary in the tightest circle of committed Christians. The common enemy, satan, and his defeat should also be one of the most common interests discussed in conflict that arises within a Christian educational setting. When human interest is tolerated, the love of the Father and His will and His kingdom are sabotaged.

Therefore, the denial of self and the rejection of self-interest is crucial to follow Christ as a true disciple. The teaching of Jesus in a conflict situation must remain clearly in focus and lovingly embraced:

Matthew 16:24
24. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
25. "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.
26. "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke reveals the depth of conflict that a true disciple of Christ in an educational setting may be required to make:

Luke 14:26
26. "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27. "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14:33
33. "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Voice of the Martyrs publishes monthly reports describing the cost of discipleship in countries around the world whose governments do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and King. The following account from the May 2002 issue reveals a Christian educator who understands and lives in a hostile educational environment full of deadly conflict and daily confrontation:

Parvez Masih is accused of violating sub-section C of Pakistan's rigid Law 295, blaspheming Mohammed. He was the headmaster of a successful Christian school in a village near Lahore. Mulsims pressured Masih to hire Muslim teachers, but he refused. One day, four students approached Parvez and began asking questions about Mohammed and the prophet's nine-year old wife, Aesha. According to the family members, Parvez instructed the boys to raise any questions about Islam or the prophet Mohammed with their religious leaders. Two of the boys later testified that Parvez had committed blasphemy against Mohammed during the discussion. At the time of Parvez's arrest, radical Muslims demanded that he convert to Islam. Parvez was told that the blasphemy charges would be dropped if he would become a Muslim. He refused, saying that he "would not deny Christ." because he is a "true Christian" ("VOM Around The World" 7).

Christian educators in the United States may not be called to be imprisoned for their refusal to compromise, but a true disciple of Christ will experience conflict that exposes self-interest. Jesus' absolute exclusive insistence concerning the cost of discipleship resulted in three of His closest followers entering into a corporate ultrasupernatural experience of the highest honor.

Peter, James, and John all saw Jesus' transfiguration and transformation and were aware of knowing the presence of Moses and Elijah as well. All three heard the voice of the Father, His approbation of Jesus and His admonition of Jesus' words. "While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'" (Matt 17 :5).

Could it be so with Christian educators seeking the Father's will in situations of unbearable conflict? A progressive refusal to surrender to self-interests, an unwillingness to negotiate personal agendas, a resistance to acquiesce to humanistic group goals, a denial to concede to flattering institutional proposals, and even a refusal to capitulate to national evolutionary policies could be embraced by the true sons of the Father, and then these will share His corporate blessing, if the example of Jesus is followed with decisive steadfast faith seeking the Kingdom of God:

Mark 10:29
29. Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake,
30. but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

The references to the beheading of John the Baptist should not be treated with historical disassociation (Mat 14 :8; Mark 6 :25). In discussion and training on conflict resolution a "YES" to God is an automatic "NO" to self and humanism. Paul reminded Timothy, "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (II Tim 3 :12).

The conflict of suffering for the will of the Father motivated by a love of the Father will bear good fruit if the fear of death is exposed, and love forces fear out of the situation (I John 4 :18). The focus has to be Christ and Christ alone when Christians seek Kingdom resolution to conflict. As the writer of Hebrews confidently reminds,

Hebrews 12:2
2. fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

Conflict of Unbelief and Spiritual Solutions - Prayer and Fasting

When the other disciples who did not experience Jesus' transfiguration were unable to drive out a demon, Jesus used their failure to explain the spiritual weapon that is necessary against the stronghold of unbelief:

Matthew 17:20
20. He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.
21. ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."]

Most of the battles that Christians face in educational settings will be won if unbelief is exposed as the only enemy and is defeated. The writer of Hebrews cites unbelief as the major enemy to receiving the inheritance of peace that we are promised as part of God's kingdom, "And {so} we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief" (Heb 3 :19).

When the demonic mountain of unbelief refuses to move, the size of the faith is of less consideration than the weapons of faith that have to be deployed. Jesus said, "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting" (Matt 17 :21).

The spiritual discipline of consistent prayer and the discipline of a fasted life as seen in the life and ministry of Jesus is the secret weapon that ensures victory. The Christian educator who understands and practices a secret prayer life as part of following Jesus will be ready and prepared not only with answers but also with the power of the Holy Spirit to see captives set free.

Autobiographies of famous men of God report the power of prayer. Charles Finney describes the spirit of prayer in his autobiography as a weapon to use when opposition surfaces:

Indeed the town (Rome,NY) was full of prayer. Go where you would, you heard the voice of prayer. Pass along the street, and if two or three Christians happened to be together, they were praying. Wherever they met they prayed. Wherever there was a sinner unconverted, especially if he showed any opposition, you would find one two or three brethren or sisters agreeing to make him a particular subject of prayer (119).

Many Christian educational establishments look to Matthew 18 :15-17 as the only process for conflict resolution. Even though the steps outlined by Jesus are valid and very powerful, the context is observable known sin. When conflict resolution for known sin follows these steps and are embraced, a glorious, joyful outcome occurs: a willing listener who repents of his or her sin is restored.

If all members sharing an educational setting have sinned by moving in a spirit of unbelief, then that needs to be addressed, and a corporate spirit of repentance needs to be sought. Graham Cooke states:

What we believe together as a body creates the climate for what will happen. Unfortunately, the opposite of that is also true: Corporate unbelief creates a negative environment where nothing can happen (see Mk. 6 :1-6 [208-209]).

However, all conflict situations are not a sin problem. Lack of agreement on an issue, a procedure, a situation, or a problem is not automatically the fault of one person or a group of people. Whether conflict arises over blatant sin, ideological differences, or incompatible procedures, the promise of the Father's intervention and the manifest presence of Jesus to bring Father's will and His glory into the conflict as a corporate experience of His solution has the potential to occur if only two people can discover and agree to Father's will. Jesus stated the promise and the conditions:

Matthew 18:19
19. "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
20. "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst."

The attitude of forgiveness and overt expression of forgiveness in conflict is the only atmosphere that can bring resolution to any conflict. Misperceptions, innocent mistakes, miscommunication, misinformation, and misery abound when conflict of interests are exposed. The ability to forgive and receive forgiveness with appropriate behavior is a Christian absolute in Father's kingdom that is to be inexhaustibly maintained:

Matthew 18:21
21. Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22. Jesus *said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Marital Conflict and Redemptive Resolution

It is common knowledge in Christian media reports that the trauma and conflict of divorce can be found embedded in every level of our western society; therefore it may also be found within an educational community. Children, teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents all have to face the conflict that divorce entails. In some educational settings a divorce could mean termination of employment, disruption of Christian ministry, and a negative impact upon students who look up to adults as role models. Students experiencing the trauma and suffering that divorce brings may need extra support to maintain the ability to concentrate on studies. Jesus' teaching on this subject hits the root of divorce and by focusing on the root of the problem a remedy to the various kinds of conflict that divorce causes may be found. According to Jesus the root cause of separation and divorce is a hardened unforgiving heart, "Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way (Matt 19 :8).

When marriage was instituted by God as the first corporate human relationship, the human heart was not hard. Therefore, a complete reliance upon the Holy Spirit, God on the earth today, who knows the condition of every human heart is the only way to find a solution to this kind of conflict when it surfaces in a classroom discussion or in the teachers' lounge. Legalism and judgmental self-righteous attitudes are often exposed when "divorce" issues arise. The Biblical strategy is to guide all who are concerned into prayer, fasting and unconditional forgiveness to eradicate stumbling blocks and to soften all hearts. Because divorce and remarriage is defined as adultery by Jesus, his other teachings concerning adultery should also be examined so mercy and grace can replace legalism and judgment. The following scriptures give the educational community a common interest that can have individual personal application and hopefully invoke compassion and Holy Spirit-inspired prayer:

  1. Lust in the heart = adultery (Mat 5 :27-28).
  2. Woman caught in adultery - (John 8 :1-11).
    1. Those without sin may cast the first stone
    2. Neither do I condemn you
    3. Go and sin no more
The relationship of marriage is the most complex of human conflicts because of demonic interference to hinder agreement in prayer. Peter explains what is necessary to see conjugal prayers answered, "You husbands likewise, live with {your wives} in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered" (I Pet 3 :7).

When marital conflict is noted, it is worth the effort to emphasize that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and therefore God's will may be the release of a spirit of repentance and true revival as well as the reconciliation of the couple. A solution to the relationship dynamic where news of separation and/or divorce could cause further conflict in an educational community is the deployment of fasting, prayer and forgiveness. Wisdom and specific strategy from the Holy Spirit flow in an atmosphere of desperate prayer for one another:

Jude 1:19
19. These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
20. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit;
21. keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
22. And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
23. save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

The strategy of designated targeted times for corporate fasting and prayer in educational establishments is an offensive strategy that may be ignored in educational settings. Jesus' example of prayer and His understanding of fasting is revealed in subtle ways in the gospels. For example:

John 4:31
31. In the meanwhile the disciples were requesting Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."
32. But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."
33. The disciples therefore were saying to one another, "No one brought Him {anything} to eat, did he?"
34. Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.

His times alone in prayer away from His disciples and from the crowds reveal a denial or fasting not only from food but also from sleep and fellowship. To follow Christ's example in overcoming impossible situations a Christian educator often needs to abide solely with His Heavenly Father:

Mark 6:45
45. And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of {Him} to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away.
46. And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray.

John 6:15
15. Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

To allow the Holy Spirit to foster a desire to be like Jesus in this discipline and to provide the structure by which prayer and fasting remain totally under the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit is the method by which a specific strategy for peaceful resolution can emerge.

Unconscious Bondages and Redemptive Solutions

Fasting is an offensive discipline to handle conflict when it surfaces and by God's grace, if offenses and stumbling blocks are hidden, they also will be exposed. Jesus' behavior and teachings reveal this reality.

Matthew 16:23
23. But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."

Matthew 18:7
7. "Woe to the world because of {its} stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

Offenses are unconscious bondages tying a person to tormenting spirits, and this sometimes has to be exposed before captives can be set free (Matt 18 :32-35).

Competition and a spirit of partiality need to be eliminated from Christian educators so that cooperation and unity have the opportunity to grow, blossom, and bear good fruit. Both Matthew and Mark share Jesus' teaching when a mother and her two sons wanted special future privileges to be granted by Jesus. Matthew reveals Jesus' conversation with the mother asking for the privilege while Mark reveals Jesus' conversation with the two sons asking for the privilege themselves (Matt 20 :20; Mark 10 :35). These two accounts of the same story may appear to have a surface discrepancy in the details, but when the two accounts are examined together, educators have the opportunity to discern the presence of a spirit of partiality which provokes offenses.

In educational settings conflict instigated by a spirit of partiality causes privileged selection which automatically sets up the rejection of the unprivileged who are not chosen. Offenses can occur numerous times a day over a diversity of choices. Sometimes the choice is a conscious decision and at other times the choice will occur in total innocence. Internal conflict occurs when offense is allowed to remain. Both Matthew and Mark reveal that the exposure of this kind of attitude causes internal and external conflict even for those who only observe it and aren't directly involved. "The ten became indignant with James and John, the two brothers (Mark 10 :41). Indignant in the Greek is aganakteo(23) which means to "grieve much." Jesus responds to this kind of indignation or third party offense surfacing among His disciples by explaining the superiority of the Kingdom of God and its emphasis on servanthood, "But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all (Mark 10 :43).

Jesus' emphasis on servanthood and the willingness to be totally impartial in serving others had been previously discussed with the disciples. Even though both Matthew and Mark relate this earlier conflict with Jesus and His disciples, Mark is the one who reveals the connection between the Kingdom of God, servanthood, and the need for impartiality. In this incident it was Jesus who was righteously indignant or grieved over the disciples' attitudes toward children. He was not offended in the negative sense of the word, but He was pained by an incorrect view of children that treats them with less respect than adults receive:

Mark 10:13
13. And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.
14. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
15. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it {at all.}"

Education environments which are devoted to children always provide ample opportunity for wrong attitudes towards children to be revealed. The observable conflict and the attitudes which the conflict will reveal will vary with every individual situation, but the consistent tactical offensive weapon will be the hidden place of prayer, fasting, and forgiveness so that wisdom, understanding, and cooperation can also be revealed and drive the darkness out of the relationships. John wrote much about light overpowering darkness:

I John 2:8
8. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
9. The one who says he is in the light and {yet} hates his brother is in the darkness until now.
10. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
11. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

When James, John, and their mother approached Jesus with their request to be on the right and the left of Jesus in His kingdom, it was Jesus who had mentioned His throne and the twelve thrones of the apostles. That piece of information then caused these family members to press Jesus for more. This happens all the time in educational settings. A person of authority, a parent, a teacher, a principal, a board member, a superintendent, clarifies an issue, and the clarification then uncovers another issue. No human can foresee all the issues of potential conflict or the specific conflict that may surface in an educational setting. Thus the necessity of a disciplined dedicated life of abiding prayer, fasting, and forgiveness is a call to all, not only to those in delegated authority. Forgiveness extended towards others is briefly mentioned in the literature of the experts on conflict resolution, but the need to be reconciled to the Creator and receive His forgiveness is never mentioned. The Master of Conflict Resolution relied totally upon a spiritual unseen realm as the place where He received counsel, wisdom, revelation, understanding, knowledge, insight, strategy, and direction for the continual conflict and clash between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness:

John 5:18
18. For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
19. Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless {it is} something He sees the Father doing; for whatever {the Father} does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
20. "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.

Conflict training for Christian educators should not omit the first step of reconciliation which is the individual's secure relationship with our Father God. Forgiveness towards others can only be sustained by a continual awareness of how much Father forgives (See Parable of the Unmerciful Slave - Matt 18 :21-35).

Conflict of Human Religious Systems and the Priority of Prayer

Jesus' explosive conflict with the money changers in Herod's temple openly prioritized the Father's will for prayer. Even though Matthew, Mark and Luke all describe this incident, it is Matthew who uses the word "indignant" to describe the religious response to children who passionately praised Jesus. This conflict of interests between Jesus and a religious system that quenched compassion and promoted rules, that stifled healing, that formulated and fostered regulations, that stopped freedom and that laid unbearable burdens upon desperate people can all be seen in Matthews' reporting of the incident (Mat 21 :12-17). Four conflict-producing elements are revealed:

  1. The priority of prayer replacing a system of self-effort.
  2. The healing of those oppressed by the devil.
  3. The indignation and conflict with those who were losing their control over people.
  4. The indignation over children's praise for the triumph of the Kingdom of God.

One or more of these four elements will surface among Christians in educational settings multiple times for systems always have an inherent potential to usurp the will of the Father for its own purposes. Bob Mumford writes, "The fact is that any Person without a physical body, i.e., a corpus or corporation can lose its created purpose and become Eros-ridden, that is[ :] exert itself to possess, acquire and control. What begins to make it evil is not overt sexual or worldly sin, but the fact that it has left its created purpose and has become self-referential" (Bob Mumford, "The Kingdom in Focus" 32).

When a Christian educator moves in the Father's authority, those who wish to protect the system which honors its own authority structure will be exposed. Jesus' conflict with the Pharisees was a compassionate challenge of deep concern to have them embrace Father's will rather than continue to enforce their own will. Jesus deeply desires and intercedes to see Father's ways honored and accepted as superior to man-made methods that are useless and fruitless. Of the three separate accounts of this incident, Luke gives a clear description of this kind of conflict which challenges God's authority granted by God the Father:

Luke 20:1
1. And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted {Him,}
2. and they spoke, saying to Him, "Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?"

Prayer Births Wise Questions and Wonderful Parables

Jesus' reliance upon parables and His use of questions to expose wrong thinking were indirect methods to reveal those who were ignorant of satan's schemes and those who were deceived into doing his will:

Luke 20:3
3. And He answered and said to them, "I shall also ask you a question, and you tell Me:

Mark 3:22
22. And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons."
23. And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan?
24. "And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
25. "And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
26. "And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!
27. "But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

The teaching method of asking a rhetorical question as an indirect way to confront a challenge to God's authority and to bring accountability in a conflict was first used in the Garden of Eden when, "The Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" (Gen 3 :9).

Hebrew prophetic literature mentions parables as early as 755 B.C. with Hosea and 590 B.C. with Ezekiel. God Himself states that He originates parables:

Hosea 12:10
10. I have also spoken to the prophets, And I gave numerous visions; And through the prophets I gave parables.

Ezekiel 20:49
49. Then I said, "Ah Lord God! They are saying of me, 'Is he not {just} speaking parables?'"

Jesus is the Master when conflict arises and His use of questions and parables is a valid method for Christian educators to embrace so that hindrances to resolution and reconciliation can be exposed and eliminated.

Conflict over authority is always rooted deeply in the soil of unbelief rather than in a secure loving trust of Father God. Challenges to authority are often entrapped in a reliance upon reasoning rather than a dependence upon the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. Luke reveals the process many educators face in a conflict over authority when exposed: the initial challenge, the fear of the majority, and the willingness to lie or to claim ignorance. He reports:

Luke 20:5
5. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why did you not believe him?'
6. "But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet."
7. And they answered that they did not know where {it came} from.

Jesus' refusal to answer questions challenging His authority was not a rejection of those who asked the question. In Luke and in Mark the parable of the vinegrowers documents the spiritual purpose of the parable, an indirect method of teaching that allows the hearer the opportunity or free-will choice to seek more understanding, and thus the parable is given to reveal the hearts of those who desire to learn:

Mark 4:33
33. With many such parables He was speaking the word to them as they were able to hear it;
34. and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

Luke 8:10
10. "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest {it is} in parables, in order that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

In the parable of the vinegrowers the heart intent of the fearful and the territorial was exposed:

Luke 20:19
19. And the scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them.
20. And they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so as to deliver Him up to the rule and the authority of the governor.
21. And they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.

Christian educators need to be encouraged to forsake methods of education that undermine the superiority of the Creator. Godly resolution of conflict can only be achieved by learning how to personally abide with God to receive His questions and His parables that He desires to impart into conflict situations that exposes the root from His perspective.

Jesus' willingness to insert another question on another topic is an excellent tactic for twenty-first century Christian educators when personal agendas rather than truth are hidden motives:

Luke 20:22
22. "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
23. But He detected their trickery and said to them,
24. "Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?" And they said," Caesar's. "

A Christian educator in a similar kind of conflict should learn to rely upon the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to respond with the pertinent question and answer that will expose deception:

Luke 20:25
24. And He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
25. And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and marveling at His answer, they became silent.

When Jesus' authority was questioned, Matthew reveals another parable with a question that Mark and Luke do not include. It is here in Matthew's account of the response of two sons to their father's request that a Christian in an educational environment must remain:

Matthew 21:28
28. "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.'
29. "And he answered and said, 'I will, sir'; and he did not go.
30. "And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, 'I will not'; {yet} he afterward regretted {it} and went.
31. "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They *said, "The latter." Jesus *said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.

The ultimate goal is not the winning of an argument when God's authority is questioned, but the willingness to discover and joyously embrace the will of the Father together.

A challenge to authority should never cause offense to the one challenged and thus be pushed into a defensive position. The common interest and the place of resolution in the conflict is the acceptance of the Father's will. Jesus' use of the parable in this conflict with those who abused legitimate authority moved into an accountability issue concerning a past error in judgment that was clouded in unbelief. Jesus' emphasis on the kingdom of God and the need for repentance has to be a primary concentration for the Christian educator as well:

Matthew 21:31
31. "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They *said, "The latter." Jesus *said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.
32. "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

The Kingdom of God, the will of the Father, and belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God are absolutes that a Christian educator must always be willing to present when conflict of interests arises. An examination of Jesus' life, ministry, and teaching should foster a denial of self for all engaged in the conflict and bring a unified agreeable solution. If a bondage to darkness is exposed and a stubborn insistence to challenge and destroy another's reputation arises, stronger conflict may be necessary. Name calling is never to be used, but exposure of the heart is permissible. The trickery and entrapment reported by Matthew and Mark actually mention hypocrisy. Mark indirectly states, "But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at" (Mar 12 :15).

Matthew, however, reveals the direct confrontation of the root of the problem, "But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? (Mat 22 :18).

If unrepentance escalates a conflict, the Holy Spirit will also escalate the direct confrontation that exposes the hidden recesses of the heart. As confrontation escalates to this point, the one whose authority is challenged must remain in a place of mercy and compassion and not judgment, for it is the enemy who needs to submit to the Lordship of Christ so that the person is free to see and embrace the Kingdom of God. The apostle Paul exposes the unseen enemy's tactics:

II Corinthians 4:4
4. in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
5. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.
6. For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;

Timothy, mentored by the Apostle Paul, received a letter from the apostle giving the best description and counsel for antagonistic relationships in educational settings:

II Timothy 2:23
23. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
24. And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
25. with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

If hypocrisy continues in a conflict situation there can be resolution of a specific issue, but the internal bondage of the individual may remain intact. The Greek word hupokrisis(5272) is best translated as playacting, roleplaying, or pretending. Jesus was not a hypocrite. He neither role played nor pretended. A Christian in an educational setting needs to be aware that hypocrisy may surface when interests and goals conflict. The interplay between Jesus who is motivated by love and His opponents who are motivated by fear, envy, and jealousy, continued to escalate over different issues because the intent of dialogue was not a resolution of misunderstanding but a method to entrap and destroy Jesus.

Because a Christian setting has a focus on the written word of God, confusion occurs when hypocrisy goes unchallenged. A Christian educator may discover this kind of behavior in colleagues as well as be personally tempted to be hypocritical in some situations. Jesus commented on this problem very succinctly, and His teaching is a standard when those in authority are plagued with duplicity concerning the kingdom of God, "Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say {things,} and do not do {them}" (Matt 23 :3).

Although Jesus' words are simple, they clarify and are very appropriate for an educator who wishes to maintain his or her own integrity and assist others in the midst of confusing conflict. Jesus practiced what He taught. Hypocrites do not. Thus sometimes a differentiation has to be made between the teaching that is good and the behavior that is not. This is especially relevant to Christian educational settings. Hypocrisy should be exposed in a private, gentle manner before bringing it to the attention of others (Matt 18 :15-17).

However, extreme caution is necessary. The observation of a person's behavior can be a faulty perception. An example of this human tendency is found in Mark. The disciples were indignant over a woman's extravagant waste of perfume which she poured over Jesus' feet:

Mark 14:4
4. But some were indignantly {remarking} to one another, "Why has this perfume been wasted?
5. "For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and {the money} given to the poor." And they were scolding her.

Educational environments will often be presented with conflicts stemming from opposing perceptions and observations. Financial budgets and time schedules are just two of innumerable potential skirmishes. What appears extravagant to the treasurer may be a necessary expenditure to the teacher. What appears to be a waste of time to the principal may be very relevant to the one needing a change in the schedule. Jesus' words about appearances are the stabilizer to these kinds of conflicts. He says, "Do not judge by outward appearances" (John 7 :24).

Redemptive conflict resolution, the ministry of reconciliation, begins for any Christian in any conflict in any situation when these words of Jesus are an automatic internal response: "I will not judge this conflict by outward appearances." Paul explains the ministry of reconciliation:

II Corinthians 5:17
17. Therefore if any man is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
18. Now all {these} things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
19. namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
21. He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus' last personal internal conflict came with an understanding that He would prefer to accomplish the Father's will by some method other than that which He and the Father had previously agreed upon and settled. A Christian educator may discover himself or herself in similar kinds of situations where the course of action to remain obedient to the Father's will and to His methods may cost the loss of reputation and even the loss of position. The necessity for the intensity of prayer in such matters cannot be overlooked. Two gospel writers describe Jesus' emphasis:

Luke 22:45
45. And when He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow,
46. and said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation."

Matthew 26:41
41. "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

A Christian in educational settings must keep focused on Jesus' behavior and His teaching when internal and external conflict surfaces. The gospel accounts reveal human and spiritual conflict and an approach to conflict that can be viewed as a blessed place of redemption rather than a cursed place of judgment. Conflict resolution training for Christian educators that ignores the life and teachings of Jesus Christ will always fall short of the glory of God, but that which centers on Christ will find that He will manifest Himself as the Prince of Peace. The sons of Korah reflect the connection, "I will hear what God the Lord will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly" (Psa 85 :8).

Nowhere is the peace of Jesus more apparent than in the Garden of Gethsemane when the soldiers arrived to take Him to His trial and crucifixion. The hidden weapon of Christ was not the sword in Peter's hand. The hidden weapon behind the power of peace was His love and devotion to Father God and His love for human beings made in the image of God. In the violence of the ultimate attempt of the kingdom of darkness to overpower the kingdom of light, the Victor stands motivated by love and empowered with peace. Jesus calls Judas, "Friend" in response to the kiss of betrayal. That is love and forgiveness. Peter's violent act against Malchus, the high priest's slave, was countered by the miraculous restoration of his severed ear. That is peace and joy. The soldiers who came to arrest Him found themselves and their powerless weapons lying in the dust when Jesus said, "I am He." That is the power of the Prince of Peace, the Messiah.

Peter's denial, the accusations, the scourgings, the mocking, the slapping, the spitting, the cursing, the envy, the jealousy, the greed, the unbelief - all were met by the incredible silent power of peace motivated by the power of Love with a focus on an unseen joy, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb 12 :2).

Who can see Jesus in the midst of the most crushing torment of internal conflict? Who can focus on Him when surrounded by fearful, violent, life-threatening, excruciating, external conflict? Who is able to follow in His footsteps empowered by the Holy Spirit? These are the ones who will also experience the God of Peace crushing satan under his or her feet, and that is the moment of redemptive resolution for all human conflict. Paul's words are a fitting summation of conflict resolution confirming the Christian's deep desire for peaceful redemptive resolution and boldly declaring the promised victory over the evil one who is behind all conflict.

Romans 16:19
19. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil.
20. And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Paul's closing remarks to the Ephesians with his emphasis on peace, love, and faith is not only a goal and a standard for Christian educators with whom conflict is an ever constant reality, but it is also a prophetic prayer. May Christian educators patiently believe, compassionately love and expectantly experience the fulfillment of Paul's benediction.

Ephesians 6:23
23. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with {a love} incorruptible.

Works Cited

Cooke, Graham. A Divine Confrontation: Birth Pangs of the New Church . Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2001.
Finney, Charles. The Autobiography of Charles G. Finney , Ed. Helen Wessel. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publisher, 1977.
Fisher, Roger and William Ury, Bruce Patton. Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In . New York: Penquin Books, 1991.
Fox, George. The Journal of George Fox . Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1997.
Lantieri, Linda and Janet Patti. Waging Peace in Our Schools . Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.
Mumford, Bob. Learning Center Notebook. "Agape as Reformation." Session 1. "The Seven Giants and Me." Raleigh: LifeChangers Learning Center, 2001.
---. Learning Center Notebook., "The Kingdom in Focus." Session 2. "World Systems," Raleigh: LifeChangers Learning Center, 2001.
Stomfay-Stiz, Aline M. Peace Education in America, 1828-1990, Sourcebook for Education and Research . Metuchen, NJ & London: Scarecrow Press, 1993.
"VOM Around The World." Voice of the Martyrs , May 2002.


  1. I will be using The New American Standard Bible throughout this paper. Word numbers refer to the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Note that these word numbers are the same as Strong numbers.
  2. The origin of conflict is its own topic and cannot be fully discussed in this paper.
  3. God's character is Love which has observable, identifiable demonstrable behavior described with these words: compassionate, gracious, patient, merciful, truthful, faithful, long-suffering, patient, and forgiving.
  4. These seven giants are (1) Look good (2) Feel good (3) Be Right (4)STAY IN CONTROL (5)Have an agenda (6) Take Advantage (7) Remain undisturbed. ("Agape as Reformation", Study Guide, Lifechangers Library Series, 2001, Session 1, "The Seven Giants and Me" #3 7).

Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd