Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sin... And it's mortification

I've had some good dialogue with some great friends on my previous post on Tiger Woods and sin.

And although I believe that the main premise is true... I want to say that in making an absolute statement I may have neglected a bit of the nuanced aspects when talking about sin, and sanctification and faith in Jesus. I get that.

However, I believe that the main point was still accurate... that we always act according to our true values/beliefs or... put another way, our actions affirm or betray our stated values.

Part of this is recognizing what Paul says in Romans 7 (A friend brought up this passage in reference to my last post) "I do what I don't want to do and what I want to do I don't do." (I'm paraphrasing... the NJV... New Jake Version)

That really makes the point for me. Even though Paul is saved and the work needed to atone for all his sin is complete. AND he is being sanctified as he is growing in maturity in Christ... he still recognizes that his sinful heart chooses sin and it baffles him.

In some instances even Paul values sin MORE than he values Christ. Now, He can still value Christ and strive to live a humble, obedient, and moral life... and he should... as we all should, but he recognizes the death-grip that the flesh has on him and so he, once-again, throws himself at the mercy of God in Christ to continue to kill the flesh that seeks to destroy him.

As we must do.

The whole point about Tiger was this... the issue isn't a mistake or a lapse in judgement... it was a choice. And the choice I am speaking of is not one of many acts of indiscretion... the choice was something OTHER that God's way... sin. It is a deep core issue long before it moves us to some kind of action in our behavior...

I am thankful for the mercy of God in the Gospel that rescued me and rescues me every day.

That is why I pray for Tiger Woods and others who are trapped in sin... there are great strides to take to get life "back on track" but the first (and MOST IMPORTANT) step to take is the one turn around called repentance where mercy is found at the foot of the Cross... where we trade the ashes of this life in for beauty and wear forgiveness like a crown on our heads... and where we find new life that frees us from the curse of sin while we wage war against it by repentance.

Sometimes the old dead guys are the most challenging to read (partially because of their language and mostly because of the content. There is a short book called "The Mortification of Sin" by John Owen. It hits the nail on the head pretty good. You can find an online copy of it HERE.

When you are looking at the manger this Christmas know that forgiveness comes through those once small hands of a child in a feed-box, who grew as a man, tempted as you and I and yet was without sin. Walked the road to Calvary and took the punishment of God's wrath that you and I deserve for our sin on himself that he might be our propitiation... then rise again to new life that we might share in that inheritance as adopted sons and daughters.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the nature of humanity... and Tiger Woods

Not that anyone cares... in fact this might seem like “too little, too late” to the field of pundits, commentators, and reporters who have been talking and writing, seemingly non-stop about Tiger Woods and his many indiscretions over the past couple of weeks. Adding my two cents might be just more stuff that NOBODY WANTS TO READ about a story that is getting very old, very fast to the average, everyday person.

However, The nagging in my head and heart is this... how do we sift through all the sensationalism and 24-hour reporting to work toward a Biblical and Gospel-centered response to the whole situation.

I think there are three things I want to state before you read bits and pieces of this and get the wrong idea. (we are typically very bad with context in our culture)

1 - Tiger Woods made deliberate choices to have multiple illicit sexual relationships with women other than his wife... that is bad. Adultery against one’s spouse is, in Biblical light, is a sin. Plain and simple.

2 - As much as Tiger says that He was not being “true to his values”... i don’t believe that to be a true statement. I don’t think Tiger is intentionally mis-leading... but I would argue that everyone always acts in accordance with their values and is unable to act out-of-line with those values. (more on that in a moment)

3 - Either way, Tiger, like the rest of us, stands condemned under sin and in need of a Savior. I have been moved to pray for his realization of his need for a savior and that he would find salvation in Jesus. Because ultimately, full redemption is found only in Christ’s finished and complete work on the cross.


Point #1 - Sin is sin... but we know that... at least most of us are willing to take a stand on that and agree that there is a level of wrong-ness to Tiger’s actions. I’ll leave that for another post.

Point #2 is where I want to spend most of the rest of this post.

This whole thought began in my head after reading Tiger Woods’ first statement posted on his website...

I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect.”

He says, “I have not been true to my values...” and many of us read that and say “yeah... you should be better.”

To that I would say, “No, Tiger. You are being EXACTLY & wholeheartedly true to your values.”

I would argue that it is impossible for us to NOT act in accordance to our values. Our actions & behavior might not line up with our stated values but, let me say it this way... our actions ALWAYS line-up perfectly with what we TRUELY value... what we really believe deep in our hearts.

This does not excuse the wrong-ness of his actions... The Bible is clear about sin but, in reality, he is choosing his actions based on what is true in his heart... we all do it. We are unable to choose something and act in a way that is dissonant with our values.

We CONSISTENTLY act in contrast to our stated values. But we always act in accordance with what we really believe. One needs only to look at the the stories in the past 2-3 years of pastors & politicians who have committed adultery, admitted to drug-use, and lied to cover their tracks. Their public value statement is one of morality, and faithfulness but they really believed it was ok to do what they were doing. They were acting in a way consistent with their true values.

You see... the problem in all this isn’t the actions themselves. Again, this is not to minimize sin. I stand every day before the throne of God broken and needing repentance for the wickedness of my heart which leads to wicked action... but the action isn’t the main problem... it is a symptom of believing that something else is better, or more satisfying, or more saving, or more anything than Jesus.

If I say that I believe that God is omni-present... that He is always with me... that I am never alone... and yet I step into sin by choosing a dishonest business deal, or choosing to fill my eyes and mind with airbrushed images, or choosing to destroy myself with an overuse of chemicals or hurt myself with sharp objects says that although I SAY I believe that God is always present i do not really believe that is true. If I did I would chose behaviors and act in accordance with my values... what I believe.

So we come to this... I believe Tiger acted right in-line with what he truly believes. Which points to the issue that is greater than his transgressions... His need to have his heart transformed so that he might be able to believe and TRULY value what we all SAY that we value.

2 Chronicles 6:36

Isaiah 53:6

Romans 3:23

These verses remind us that none of us is free from this problem... we struggle under this weight without victory...

However, our hope to believe God comes in Christ. Only Christ brings transformation that changes our hearts. We can’t manufacture it. We put up morality police to deal with our heart issues. Oh yes, morality police and structures of “do and don’t” will point out our sin (and that isn’t bad to point out sin when it is seen) but it won’t deal with our issue... that we will always act in accordance with what we Truly Value and without Jesus we will always choose sin. We need a savior.

Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

I pray for Tiger Woods. That God would be merciful and grant his marriage restoration. They he would be repentant and seek true forgiveness from his wife and kids. I pray they his wife Elin would be soft in heart and find forgiveness in Jesus and, in Him, find forgiveness for her husband. And I am thankful for the wisdom to take a break from Golf to deal with his real life for a while... I pray He doesn’t try to fix the problem... but surrender to the creator who, from before time began, purposed to fix the problem and began the plan of redemption in the Son [Jesus], that we might be rescued from our false-belief and un-belief and, by the power of the Holy Spirit... see our terrible state and believe on Jesus.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When random meets reality...

"You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks (post 'Big') & Meg Ryan (pre lip enhancement) is one of my wife's favorite movies. I enjoy it enough to watch it with her (although I think it was contrived as a piggy-backing, quick money maker following the main actor's on-screen chemistry from "'Sleepless In Seattle")...

However there is a quote from the movie that struck me as particularly funny... And particularly accurate.
Please excuse the use of the word 'hell'... Although sometimes offensive, I find that, in this case it makes the line all the more funny when delivered.

I'd love to hear if you also see the truth in the statement...

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino." (Tom Hanks as Joe Fox in "You've Got Mail")

River City Church

River City Church from River City Church on Vimeo.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Matt Chandler - Must See!

Hey - Just saw this short video today.
Matt Chandler (Pastor of the Village Church in TX) recorded this message to his congregation before his surgery this past Friday. It was played yesterday (Sunday) for the church and was put online today.

I was moved, challenged, convicted,m and encouraged by what I heard. Give it a listen. I'd love to hear what you think...

For Him,


Watch it HERE

Monday, November 30, 2009

In The Shadow of the Glorious Cross

A great song that has served as a cup of fresh cool water to my soul.

It is from Sojourn Music. You can listen to a clip HERE!

The lyrics are fantastic!


In the Shadow of the Glorious Cross

Brooks Ritter and Rebecca Bales

In the shadow of the glorious cross

Compelled by grace to cast my lot

I’ll discard the loss and bare your name

Forsaking all for your own fame

Your hymn of grace sung over me

Abounding forth in glorious streams

My thirst is quenched by you my Lord

Sustained am I redeemed restored

Sustained am I redeemed restored

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

When death’s dark shadow’s at my feet

When I am plagued by unbelief

You place my hands into your side

By precious blood identified

By precious blood identified

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

These crowns I’ve clenched with fisted hands

I cast them down before the throne

Of Christ my God the worthy lamb

Christ crucified, the Great I AM

Christ crucified, the Great I AM

Christ crucified, the Great I AM

Hallelujah, Hallelujah


Download that Chord Chart HERE

Check out Sojourn Music on

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coffee... the remedy to combatting cynical Tuesday

There is a black chair in our office... upon which I sit to get the best wireless signal. And the joke is that you sit in this chair on Tuesdays... cynical Tuesdays... after reading something outrageous, brokenhearted because your fantasy football team sucked it up over the weekend, or you are just needing to vent a little bit of "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?" about something...

Early this morning I had a good time meeting with a couple guys over a cup of coffee and I think I may have found a remedy... or at least a calming salve for cynical Tuesday...


Now... I don't want to diminish the Mercy of the Lord that is new this morning and available to me... but the coffee doesn't hurt one bit!

Enjoy some Coffee-isms...

"No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness."
~Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

"I believe humans get a lot done, not because we're smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee."
~Flash Rosenberg

"In Seattle you haven't had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it's running."
~Jeff Bezos

"Decaffeinated coffee is kind of like kissing your sister."
~Bob Irwin

"It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity. I bet this kind of thing does not happen to heroin addicts. I bet that when serious heroin addicts go to purchase their heroin, they do not tolerate waiting in line while some dilettante in front of them orders a hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles."
~Dave Barry

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Gospel Saves AND...

The Supremacy of God's Son

Hebrews 1:1-4

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”


The Holy Spirit has been bringing some conviction to me recently as I consider how I can in one breath both give thanks for the saving work of Christ Jesus and then add to Christ’s work one hundred other things on which hinges my own, or someone else’s Salvation. Now... I KNOW that Salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone in Christ alone... but I see in myself a trend that is pervasive in those all around me... How quickly we are to move PAST the Gospel that Jesus Christ saves sinners. We keep it in our back pocket like a Trump Card for heaven but strip it of its power to continually transform those who by it [The Gospel] are gripped! In reality I am learning afresh that it is the GOSPEL that SAVES us but also is PRIMARILY at work in our Sanctification!

In Romans 1:15 - The Apostle Paul says that he is, “Eager to preach the gospel to you too who are in Rome.” Paul is writing to those “in the church” so that they might be sanctified and continually challenged and transformed BY the Gospel.

Are there deep, head-hurting, heart-wrenching, Biblical Doctrines to wrestle with and seek to understand as we mature and grow in Christ? Absolutely. However, we don’t move PAST the Gospel to get to them. We only mature in character and understanding THROUGH the continued application of the Gospel!


“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else." - John Calvin

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Forgiveness and the Big Kingdom

This is from Paul Tripp... very good!

Paul David Tripp, A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You (New Growth Press, 2007), pp. 161-62

Forgiveness and the Big Kingdom

  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you get it right.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you step out of your little kingdom and into His.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you say that the Bible’s description of you and everyone around you is accurate.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you declare that your life does not belong to you, but has been created for the purpose of the Author.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you say that selfishness is your biggest sin and that grace is your only hope.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you are reminding yourself who you are and what you truly need.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you refuse to be comfortable with your rebellion.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you recognize that the biggest problems you face in life exist inside of you, not outside of you.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you are praying that God’s kingdom would come and his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you make the kingdom of God visible for others to see.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you are worshiping the King of forgiveness and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, your sight is accurate, your head is clear, and your heart is in the right place.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you cry out for an eternity when forgiveness has finished its work once and for all.
  • Every time you ask for forgiveness, you tell yourself that for all the good you have experienced in God’s kingdom, there is still more that is needed and more to come.

A lifestyle of forgiveness expands everything you are touching to the size of God’s kingdom.

Paul David Tripp, A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You (New Growth Press, 2007), pp. 161-62

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where is our trust... REALLY?

I don't want a world-wide flu epidemic to wipe out thousands or, God-forbid, millions of the most vulnerable of us around the globe...
I don't want global conflict and war to tear apart whole regions, countries, cities, and families...
I don't want growing unemployment and hardship for hardworking men and women who want nothing more than to provide an honest living, put food on the table and a roof over their families heads...

So I am happy for things like doctors, and researchers, and vaccines...
And I am happy for diplomatic & military strategy and innovation...
and I am happy for entrepreneurial thinking and compassion to help motivate and motivate others to greater opportunity and productivity...

But I must be careful that my trust is ultimately not in those things. But instead, I must Trust in the one who skillfully crafted man to learn and think, create and work, by HIS design.. so we have the benefits of medicine, and innovation, of creativity and a strong work ethic... that come FROM Him... and work to His Glory.

"God is not displeased with the strength of a horse and the legs of a man as good things that He has made. He is displeased with those who hope in their horses and in their legs. He is displeased with the people who put their hope, for example, in missiles or in make-up, in tanks or tanning parlors, in bombs or body-building. God takes no pleasure in corporate efficiency or balanced budgets or welfare systems or new vaccines or education or eloquence or artistic excellence or legal processes, when these things are the treasure in which we hope, or the achievement in which we boast. Why? Because when we put our hope in horses and legs, then the horses and legs get the glory, not God"

~JohnPiper, The Pleasures of God , 208).

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Gospel Way

No human mind could conceive or invent the gospel.
Acting in eternal grace, thou art both its messenger and its message,
lived out on earth through infinite compassion,
applying thy life to insult, injury, death,
that I might be redeemed, ransomed, freed.
Blessed be thou, O Father, for contriving this way,
Eternal thanks to thee, O Lamb of God, for opening this way,
Praise everlasting to thee, O Holy Spirit,
for applying this way to my heart.
Glorious Trinity, impress the gospel on my soul,
until its virtue diffuses every faculty;
Let it be heard, acknowledged, professed, felt.
Teach me to secure this mighty blessing;
Help me to give up every darling lust,
to submit heart and life to its command,
to have it in my will,
controlling my affections,
moulding my understanding;
to adhere strictly to the rules of true religion,
not departing from them in any instance,
nor for any advantage in order to escape evil,
inconvenience or danger.
Take me to the cross to seek glory from its infamy;
Strip me of every pleasing pretence of righteousness by my own doings.
O gracious redeemer,
I have neglected thee too long,
often crucified thee,
crucified thee afresh by my impenitence,
put thee to open shame.
I thank thee for the patience that has borne with me so long,
and for the grace that now makes me willing to be thine.
O unite me to thyself with inseparable bonds,
that nothing may ever draw me back from thee, my Lord, my Saviour.

From The Valley Of Vision (A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions)
Edited by Arthur Bennett
"The Gospel Way" - Page 35

Monday, October 5, 2009

Number and success...

Numbers in a room, as encouraging as they are, ultimately mean very little. There are a great number of ways to get people into a room… and many of those would be for reasons not befitting of Christ’s Bride or Christ’s Mission. In fact, without trying to be to contrary, a number of churches have people in the seats week in and week out and yet are missing the mark when it comes to Gospel-centrality evidenced in the lives of her people. As Chester and Timmis say in chapter 13 of the book Total Church, “... we must not confuse large with successful. Nor for that matter should we equate small with successful!” (pp. 192) We are not necessarily more “successful” if we have 70 people in the room… on the other hand, we are not necessarily more “successful” if we only have 10!

Our desire and measure of success is that we are being shaped by the Gospel and proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed to those around us in need of Jesus. If we can find ways to challenge, assess and encourage the people of River City Church to THAT end… then we will have been faithful to God’s calling and Christ’s mission make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus… 2 Timothy 2:2.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Key Principles...

Long time no blog... sorry about that...

I've been a little overwhelmed with all on my plate with this Church Plant... good stuff... just a LOT of stuff.

However, there is a small leadership team that has been doing a lot of work on River City and one of the resources we have been using is a book called "Total Church." We have found it to be most-helpful in helping us unpack the patterns in the New Testament of the advancement of the Church and how the basic principles can/should be applied today in a church-planting context.

So you can understand a little bit as to where my brain is... here is an excerpt:

"... two key principles should shape the way we "do church": gospel and community. Christians are called to a dual fidelity: fidelity to the core content of the gospel and fidelity to the primary context of a believing community. Whether we are thinking about evangelism, social involvement, pastoral care, apologetics, discipleship, or teaching, the content is consistently the Christian gospel, and the context is consistently the Christian community. What we do is always defined by the gospel, and the context is always our belonging in the church. Our identity as Christians is defined by the gospel and the community.

Being gospel-centered actually involves two things. First, it means being word-centered because the gospel is a word-the gospel is news, a message. Second, it means being mission-centered because the gospel is a word to be proclaimed-the gospel is good news, a missionary message.

So maybe we really have three principles. Christian practice must be (1) gospel-centered in the sense of being word-centered, (2) gospel-centered in the sense of being mission-centered, and (3) community-centered."

("Total Church" Chester & Timmis, pp. 15-16)

Soli Deo Gloria,


Monday, August 3, 2009

I dare you to pray this...

A challenge from Francis Chan. Its a tough one but I needed to hear it... perhaps you do as well...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update on Jake Peterson (& family)

Hello friends!

Below is a letter that was sent yesterday to a number of people of which I have had the privilege of ministering with and to over the past seven years. The Lord has opened up an opportunity for our family to step out in faith in a new work. We will remain here in Fargo and we will be working with a team to plant a church here in the central part of town. Please feel free to contact us with questions after reading this post.

Soli Deo Gloria,



July 2009

Friends of Bethel Church,

The Lord’s direction is clear, so Amy and I are taking a "leap of faith." We will be partnering with Brett Moser and his family to plant River City Church in the downtown area of Fargo beginning in September 2009. God has given us a heart for this city and although we will be stepping away from Bethel, we will remain engaged in ministry in Fargo.

I write these words with both grief and joy; grief for one reason and joy for two reasons. The grief comes because we have 7 years of ministry here in this place with students and young adults, and that has been no small thing. I came on staff as an intern with little experience. Over the past 7 years, I have been mentored and equipped for the ministry of the Gospel. We have seen many college students come though these doors and many of them equipped and sent back out to workplaces, churches, and mission fields half-way around the world! These are things we celebrate and hold dear. The relationships built, the time spent laughing and crying, all the intangible things… I cannot express enough my thankfulness to the Lord and to Bethel for my time here.

In the midst of grieving a change from Bethel College Director to "church planter," I find myself consumed with joy! We are excited for this new church and the people who will come to know Jesus in downtown Fargo! The challenge of the young/urban culture that is freely drifting and in need of Jesus is part of what inspires us to birth a fresh planting of the Gospel in that part of our city. We have a deep assurance that God has confirmed this direction for our family and cannot wait to see how He will work in our lives and the downtown community.

The second reason I write with great joy is that God is at work in shaping the ways in which Bethel will be able to more effectively make disciples among college students and serve as a mission outpost among the 25,000 college students in Fargo/Moorhead. We’ve laid some fantastic groundwork and I’m excited to see how Bethel will be impacting college students for years to come!

Amy and I celebrate that the partnership with Bethel in the mission of making disciples remains strong. I hear clearly from Bethel leaders and continue to feel the support from this body in commissioning and sending us out so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard and the Kingdom of God will expand for the sake of our city and for God’s glory.

It has been a joy serving in your midst and we look forward to serving along side of Bethel Church here in Fargo as part of River City Church.

Thank you for all your love and support!

In His Grip,
Jake & Amy Peterson

Monday, July 13, 2009

Don't Buy Stuff....

Here's a little humor this Monday. In light of the current economic issues I thought this common sense approach to personal finances was funny AND refreshing!

Watch the video Here!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Suffering does not just belong to you...

Another excellent and challenging post as we consider our own personal struggles and suffering in light of God's greater purposes for the world AND for His instrument... the Church.

This one is a real challenge... enjoy the kick in the pants!

Suffering does not just belong to you

Worshipping God or Worshipping Worship?

This was a great post by Tim Challies on worship. He quotes from D. A. Carson from his book called, Worship By The Book.

This really affirms much of my own thinking on the current state of corporate worship in Evangelical America and is a good challenge to consider or re-consider (as the case may be) the intentions of our hearts as those who gather together to worship... the Church.

The Post is HERE

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One of the Greatest Errors to be Dreaded...

From Ray Ortlund's Blog:

"One of the greatest errors to be dreaded and watched and prayed against is that of excessive caution, under the guise of prudence, in anxiety to avoid giving offense to worldly people who never can be reconciled, by all you can do, to anything in the shape of a revival of religion."

William C. Burns (1815-1868), Scottish minister, missionary to China, writing in The Revival of Religion, page 350.

Original Here

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The De-Churched - Matt Chandler

A little snippet of a session with Matt Chandler at the Advance 09 conference.
Fantastic breakdown of the current Gospel-hungry moral people he calls "de-churched"

So Good...


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Degrees of worship...

Worship is a topic in which I am fairly regularly immersed. I found this blog to be particularly helpful in that realm. I'd love to hear your thoughts...

You can read the referenced blog HERE

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Lets Do Lunch..."

"A woman once told me about eh difficulties she faced as a Brit fitting into American culture. One of her struggles was with people who said, 'Let's do lunch.' She expected them to phone and arrange a date. They never did. 'Let's do lunch' was just an idiomatic way of saying farewell. We all say, 'Let's do mission,' but does it carry any more intent than 'Let's do lunch'?"

~From "Total Church" by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”

Ok… before some of you start singing The Byrds… (To everything... turn turn turn...)

For some time the winds of change have been blowing around the area of ministry where I serve here at Bethel Church here in Fargo. What has been 11 years of solid and Spirit-led ministry in Sunday nights to College Students and Young Adults has come to an end. Now, we usually have some kind of ending at the conclusion of the Academic Calendar however this time is different… this time it has ended and will never be the same.

I have been thinking about HOW to think about and celebrate with others the things that God has done and at the same time communicate the sincere Joy in my heart about the future? This has led me to Solomon and his wisdom from Ecclesiastes.

This post explains in a little more depth my heart and mind as it relates to my current ministry situation and perhaps can be helpful as you consider your own personal ministry and listening closely for the voice of the Shepherd directing His sheep.


The change in PRISM has been over a year in the works. To be honest, I (along with others) feel that, in many ways, PRISM has “run its course.” That is often a tag attached to something that has failed or is failing and that is unfortunate. There was a marathon here in Fargo this past weekend. The runners had a course… and a finish line. We celebrate and cheer them on as they race… where? To the end of the course! If the runner had “run his course” we would never deem him a failure. NO! We would lift him on our shoulders or pat him on the back and say, “Well Done!” and perhaps gather some friends to celebrate.

The hard part with something like PRSIM is that we don’t view it as a race… we view it as an expectation… an institution or structure that we build and when we are done it stands forever and I am learning in ministry… that is the real unfortunate part.

In reality there is one name and one institution that will remain when all else passes away... ONLY the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and HIS eternal Kingdom will last through the fire and come out on the other side glorious and everlasting!
(Psalm 45; Psalm 135; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 11:15)

We are seeing a great need to re-focus our task in ministering to College Students and fulfilling the responsibilities that Paul outlines in Ephesians 4… to “Equip the saints for the work of the ministry…” (Eph. 4:12).

We recognize that although a large group gathering can be inspiring and powerful doesn’t have the same traction to dig into the Word and into real life-on-life discipleship as do smaller groups and time really teaching and wrestling with the Word of God so that we are forced to do something with the text and surrender to the Holy Spirit to bury it deep in our hearts and lives.

Because names (like PRISM) are temporary and HIS Kingdom is eternal we are able to “turn the page” as it were, in ministry structure to more effectively call a generation to Christ and equip them with the Word of God to know how to wield THAT sword with conviction and authority.

We, as a local church, have been given the mandate to equip the saints. The leadership here at Bethel has placed in my hands the sub-group of College students. I want to see this local church thrive in making disciples among college students. So we stand on the shoulders of all that has come before us in looking to the future… an army of men and women dressed in the Armor of God, rightly handling the Word of God advancing a Kingdom that will never end!

Suiting up with you,

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For the Visual Learners Among Us

I, like many of you, am a visual learner. Being a spacial person, having something tangible is helpful for me.

Politics aside, I thought this was a very helpful (and enjoyable) visual example of our current Federal Spending Budget and the Administrations Desire to cut some $$ from our spending.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Puebla Mexico 2009 (& a little Fargo Flooding)

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
- 1 Corinthians 1:9

Wow... it is hard to know where to start...

First, sorry for the delay of this note. It seems like our return from Puebla was a whirlwind of activity and in all reality... it was. When we landed in Fargo, the Red River was on its way to a record crest level and we went right to work filling and placing sandbags to stave off the rising waters.

On the flood front we seem to have pass through the waters relatively unscathed! Praise the Lord! There is some damage and home loss in our region but not nearly what it COULD have been. For that we are grateful. I know many have been asking about the flooding so THANK YOU for your prayers!


As many of you know this was my 6th time to Puebla Mexico and the 4th time I have been able to participate in an English Camp. Some of the highlights:
  • We had a number of students in our classes who participated in our camp LAST year so the relationships continued to be built. (Pray for Chucho, Maximo, & Sami)
  • We has the privilege of seeing the 800th person come through one of the English Camps. 800 different individuals have participated in one of the 12 English Camps so far. Pray that many would continue to be curious about the Scriptures seek to learn more!
  • We had a class of 8-10 women that met in the morning and 6 of them expressed interest in being a part of a Bible Study with some of the Missionaries and Mexican believers in the coming weeks. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open their hearts to a relationship with Christ!
  • We were an encouragement (we hope) to the Mission team on the field and were able to see fruit of past teams' work with over 40 people in the house fellowship in Los Heroes! Pray they would multiply to reach others in their neighborhood for the sake of Christ Jesus!
A few things to continue to pray for:
  • The missions team is still in transition. Some families reaching the 2-year anniversary of being on the field. Pray for strength for their families. Pray for clarity as the Lord continues to lead and guide. Pray for continued opportunities to live and share their faith in Christ Jesus with their neighbors around them.
  • Pray for Neil and Cheryl Prentice as they give leadership to the team of Americans in Los Heroes. For wisdom, humility, and courage.
  • Pray for the house fellowship (house church) that they would continue to seek the face of God to reach their neighborhood. Pray they would clearly hear how to multiply well so that others will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ loud and clear in Los Heroes!

First, thanks for your prayer for Amy, Nat, & Ben while I was away. They had some good family time and some good friends from church even helped out on a couple of things (Thanks Mark!) so thanks for your prayers for my family as well.

I have two things:
  • Pray that I would not slide into "been there, done that" attitude as I return to "normal" here at home. I had some refreshing and clarifying time in the Word and journaled about some of those things. I want to continue that deep time and I see how quickly I give that up for "urgent" things. I want to adjust to a new "normal" and I want to continue to be shaped by the things the Spirit of God was speaking to me while I was in Mexico.
  • Pray that I might be an encouragement to a young man in Los Heroes named Lalo. This young man is a great guy and is striving to know and follow hard after Christ. I don't know what that looks like from Fargo to Puebla but with facebook and a number of other things I want to encourage and challenge this brother of mine and so would you pray for him and his family and for ways in which I might be able to stay more connected to him!
Thanks again for all your prayers! We are considering a Mexican food night here in Fargo in the coming weeks to share some photos and stories for those who might be around here and able to come. We'll keep you posted! Thanks again for your prayers! If you want to hear more just hit me up. As you know... just about any excuse for a cup of coffee!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

64 years ago today...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

A fitting post to remember a courageous Brother can be read HERE.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Long time...

Hi folks! It has been a while since I have had a "real" post here. It has been a little crazy in life of late... but that is ok. In the days ahead I will have more for this little blog (Puebla thoughts, Biblical insights, other stuff)

but to hold you over until then... I will leave you with this "kick you in the butt" rebuke of men who aren't being the men they should be.

Enjoy the butt-kicking guys! I am still sore!


Monday, March 9, 2009

25 things I hate about facebook...

This is TOO funny!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Free Stuff... part deux!

Ok... one more option for some free stuff! I just can't help it! Hanging out with College students has me stuck on free stuff and cheap pizza!



Free Stuff

To follow a previous post of giving people information on free stuff that is being given away.... here is another!



Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Being un-busy, wordle...and stuff

I have two things I'd like to share with you all (all 5 of you...)

This blog post from Abraham Piper over at TwentyTwoWords on being busy (or "un-busy") which was timely for me as I continue to work to strike a balance between ministry, husband, father, etc... That one is HERE.

And the other is from a website called Wordle where you put in words and it makes a cool picture... this is from The Gospel of John chapter 1.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

fun stuff from other bloggers

I frequent (by subscription to my email inbox AND on my feed reader) a blog by a guy named Abraham Piper called "Twenty Two Words" and it is really great!

His is a micro-blog in that he keeps (as often as possible)posts to only 22 words. The sub-title is "experiments in getting to the point"... which is good for me who often meanders around an idea for an inane amount of time...

Anywhoo... sometimes he (and his wife Molly -- who also has a blog) have fun giveaways and such.

You can check out the most current one here at TwentyTwoWords.

Perhaps I should consider giving something away if people subscribe to my blog... hmmm...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Christ Our Savior

The past month has been a blur of activity, emotion, and just general stuff of life. I have had some wonderful time with family, watched my 4 1/2 month old son Benjamin laugh a LOT, listened to the endless stories from the mouth of my two year old daughter, grieved the death of my grandfather, dealt with car troubles, had the privilege to lead some refreshing times of corporate worship in song, and had the opportunity to teach the Bible a couple of times with some Campus Crusade students at NDSU. The next thing on the list is a date with my wife... which will be happening soon! :-)

In all these things, in good or bad, frustration or joy, I have been anchored in one thing... Jesus Christ, in His mercy and because of His death, saved my soul.

I have no other anchor on which to hold.

As I was preparing my thoughts for this belated post I loaded up my blog reader and right at the top was a posting from a blog I frequent called Between Two Worlds from a guy I greatly respect named Justin Taylor. His post was PERFECT for my thoughts today and so in good Ecclesiastes 1:9 fashion I post this puritan prayer taken from Valley of Vision).

May this be what I preach to myself every day!


"Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorned crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
expired that I might for ever live."

A Puritan Prayer~Valley of Vision

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas Letter 2008

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

It’s been an eventful year in the Peterson house.
Here are a few highlights:

Sweet baby Benjamin Jacob was born on September 15th. Weighing in at 7lbs 10oz, he was one and half pounds lighter than his sister at birth, which made delivery a breeze! We are just starting to catch glimpses of his personality as he smiles and laughs at us. He found his voice
early, and loves to serenade us on a regular basis. We are so grateful that God has blessed us with another baby to love, and we are excited to watch him grow up.

Natalie turned two in August and has the personality to match. There is never a dull, or quiet, moment when she is around. She has become quite the little mother, imitating me as I care for Ben. It is amazing to watch her imagination work. Recently she has been narrating conversations between her toys, or sippy cups, or anything that she can hold onto. Her bright smile and contagious belly laugh light up our home.

Jake and I had a great year. We found out we were pregnant in January (with Ben); Jake made his fifth trip to Puebla, Mexico in March; in July we hosted both our families in our home, and recovered from their visits by heading to a cabin for a relaxing, kid-free vacation with some dear friends; and in August we celebrated our sixth anniversary. Now our energy is focused on figuring out how to be the parents of two children—I think we’re up to the challenge.

We are excited about the opportunities to be ministers of the Gospel of Christ as a family in 2009. There are some great things happening with Jake’s ministry with College Students at Bethel Church. He is currently preparing to bring another team to Mexico in March.

As we stand here at the end of another year, we can’t help but marvel of God’s unrelenting goodness in our lives. And the greatest goodness He has shown mankind is sending His son Jesus to save the world. It is our prayer that you will experience God’s presence in the person of Jesus Christ in your life this coming year.

Merry Christmas!

Jake, Amy, Natalie, and Ben Peterson