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Don’t make resolutions… make life changes!

Life-Change

I know, it may be a matter of just wording to some, but the idea is this:

Every year people make resolutions to “do better” in areas of life. They are well-intentioned and certainly heart-felt.

It may be:

  • losing weight
  • being better organized
  • reconnecting with friends or family
  • doing better financially

Those things are all great. In fact, I have made some of those same resolutions. But until I actually did something about any area of resolution, they were at best empty words.

We even do the same in our spiritual life. We will:

  • “Live more” for God
  • Spend more time reading the Bible and in prayer
  • Reach out more to people
  • You fill in the blank

Nothing happens by good intentions. It takes action. Action YOU decide to take.

J Oswald Sanders said,

“We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be.”

The truth is this: until you actually DO something to change, nothing will happen. You can wish for it all you want, but YOU have to make the decision to take a step: to wake up earlier to read and pray, to step out and serve other people, to be more generous with your time and money.

The question is not “can you?” – but “will you?”

Here are a few ideas and resources to start:

  • Find a church, start attending and get plugged in
  • Bible reading plans: http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans
  • Join a Bible Study group: (for all my peeps at Christ Community Church, go here: http://wp.me/P2x6el-49 )
  • Schedule time to go and serve together as a family (your church probably has a few things you could do!)

Whatever it is, make a life change! Decide to DO something and then take action on it! Change your life… starting today!

The last 18 months have been a season of more struggles than my wife and I have seen in our previous 21 years of marriage. Not struggles in our marriage, mind you, but things like the death of a close family member, failing marriages in the family, family “issues” that seem to creep up on a regular basis and then of course, our son’s accident in December. We have never experienced so much pain, sadness and frustration as we have in the last 18 months.

Now, I do not write that because I want anyone’s pity. I don’t. In fact, for the last 20+ years of my life we have been fairly sheltered from having to deal with these types of things. So, starting with getting the word that we were being laid off, we have experienced things that I never thought we would have to go through. I have never struggled to have a job. Since we were married, we have never had to live with anyone else. We have not had a lot of death or divorce to deal with in our families and we certainly have never had a child almost die in a car accident.

There have undoubtedly been moments that I have asked God “Why?” “Why do I have to go through all of this? Why can’t I find a church to pastor, why can’t I do this or that? Why is my son having to go through all of this pain?” Those are all questions that I wanted answers to. Those are questions that we all would want answers to. I believe God knows that we want those answers. I was sitting in the hospital room watching Josiah sleep one night, just thinking and being quiet before God when I got an answer.

“Why not you, Jason?” And that was it. No other answers. Nothing more specific. Just, “Why not you?”

I thought about that for several days. I never expected to be immune for bad things in life. I never held to the thinking that if I was a good and performed for God that I would somehow have a magical life. But, I also never expected these things to “happen to me.”

We have learned much over the last several months. Though many of the situations we have faced are not pleasant, we have been able to walk through them, day by day, knowing that God was in control; knowing that He has a purpose and a plan for everything. I may not know all of the “why” surrounding these struggles but I do know that through everything that God says “why not you, Jason?” that He will use it to make His name famous. He will use my struggle to allow me to be more compassionate, more loving and to be able to help others because of what we have faced. I am thankful for that.

Just this morning, I read Romans 8:35:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

No matter what we face, we are not separated from the love of God. In fact, our struggles make God’s love more real and evident. Verse 37 goes on to say:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

I am a conqueror because of the love of God. His plans and purposes advance when I ask “why not me” and I lean in to Him, and then reach out to others.

Whose fault is it?

Jason Petermann  —  December 27, 2010 — 1 Comment

There are so many things that go through your mind when you face circumstances in your life that are tragic. As I have read through the Scriptures I see that even Jesus’ disciples first thoughts when confronted with someone in a tragic situation was to ask, “whose fault is this,” or “why?”  I am not one who believes that asking “why” offends God or makes Him mad. I think it is normal and really I believe God even expects us to ask questions when we find ourselves in those tragic circumstances.

Jesus and the disciples ran in to a blind man in John 9:1-5.  He had been blind since birth, and as mentioned, the first thoughts of the disciples were to be able to have a reason, to understand why this horrible situation existed.  After all, if something bad happens, someone has to be at fault, right?  So they immediately thought that either the man who was blind, or his parents had sinned.  Some how, they had been so bad that God decided he would punish them by giving them a blind son. Their view of God was that of some powerful and demanding overlord that would punish you physically if you did something bad.  How awful to have those first thoughts of a loving and gracious God. Certainly God could do that if he pleased.  Certainly God has every right to punish those who sin.  But that is not how God works.

Jesus replied to the disciples request to place blame with another view of the situation.  He says in John 9:3

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

It was not a matter of sin on anyone’s behalf.  It was a matter of God wanting to do something that people would look at the situation and say, “Only God could have done that, it had to be a God thing.” When you think about it, how awesome is it to be someone that God chooses for His works to be displayed?

As we look at our circumstances with our son Josiah, we certainly would say that we wish we never had to face this.  I think as parents this is a normal thought, to remove pain for our kids. It is not our choosing; it is not easy. You never want to see your child hurting, even to the point of struggling to breath. Though we would take this from him if we could, we would also would stand here and say “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  We believe Josiah is alive and will make a full recovery so that God will be lifted up and those that look at Josiah will only be able to say, “Only God could have done this.”

It is God that sends the rain that allows the harvest.  It is God that brings winter that turns to spring.  God is sovereign.  He is in control.  That does not change in the good or the bad of life.  We hold to that as we look at the works of God displayed in our family.

Here is an update on Josiah as of Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 9:45 PM.

What an incredible day we have had so far!  Josiah does not rest very well at night, so we just never know what to expect out of him during the day.  He generally has slept a lot during the day, but today he was very alert and got a lot accomplished!

I have some exciting news! I will be able to take off 4 weeks from work!  This has been made possible because some of my co-workers at Best Buy (where I work, if you did not know) have gifted me a month of their vacation pay. Words cannot even begin to describe how grateful my wife and I are for the generosity and love shown by the people at Best Buy.  This will allow me to be with Josiah through these very intense first weeks.

Here are some highlights from the day:

  • I spent the night again at the hospital with Josiah, and in the middle of the night he started singing songs like Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone and Say, Say.  I find it amazing that though that is my weak time, Josiah is strong and sings songs of worship that encourage me.
  • He woke up this morning to a great breakfast, which he ate most of.  He has had quite the appetite and seems to almost always be hungry!
  • He also had physical therapy today, and was able to not only get out of bed, but with assistance, he walked out of his room and to a window in the hallway!  After that, he sat in a chair for about an hour and did just great.  These sound like such little things, but a week ago he was still fighting for his life!  God has been so good to us to bring him back this far so quick, though Josiah does have quite a journey yet!
  • He also had his speech therapy today, and did a whole series of questions.  He did really well on those, and actually made it very comical as his sense of humor has been surfacing more and more.
  • He is able to move his body much better today.  Seeing him sit himself up in the bed today was just awesome!
  • We also got some encouraging news today from the rehab center that we would like to see him go to.  It looks like he may be able to get in.  One drawback to this is the location is in Grand Rapids.  Mary Free Bed is a highly recommended facility, and I feel it gives Josiah the greatest chance for a full and speedy recovery.  It is an intensive program, so visitors are basically not allowed most of the time, but he will have great care for the type of injury he has.
  • As I am typing this up, he is in occupational therapy and put his own socks on today. Again, I know this all sounds so routine, but HE PUT HIS OWN SOCKS ON!

Here are some specific and very important things to remember in prayer for Josiah and our family:

  • Please continue to pray that confusion and irritation will be minimal, and instead that he will keep that peaceful and quiet spirit.  His roughest time is during the night. Pray God gives us wisdom as we try and sort out the things that bring peace from the things that irritate him.
  • Pray that he will respond well to his rehab.  He had some great sessions today which showed us that his strength is returning and that he will be able to
  • Michigan Medicaid is his health coverage. With my job loss at the beginning of the year also came the loss of my insurance.  When we got here, the first thing we did is see if they qualified, and they did.  They are giving us issues right now, so please pray that it gets sorted quickly and completely.  This is obviously not as important as his life, but the financial concerns do weigh on me.  Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids gave us some very encouraging news today.  We are not getting the cart before the horse, but we may find out tomorrow how this will all be handled.
  • The Dr.s are still looking at the right side of his face that is not totally doing everything quite right; like raising eyebrows and such. They are leaning towards as a pinched nerve, which will heal as the swelling in his face/head goes down.  Please pray that there will be healing in that area of his face.
  • Continue to pray for my other kids.  Pray that they will have understanding and patience as we deal with Josiah. They have done so good with all of this so far! Also, pray for his older sister Jordan that she would be comforted as she is over 900 miles or so away.
  • Pray for Jennifer and I to have patience.  We know God is in control, we count on that, but we want to see him healed!  Also, pray for strength, endurance and the ability to get rest as fatigue is setting in a bit.  If we end up taking Josiah to Grand Rapids, I will go with him (made possible because of the gifting I mentioned earlier) and Jennifer will stay here with the kids.
  • Pray that we can minister to other hurting people that are up here as well. This is a place that is filled with very high highs and very low lows. It is a place that the love of God needs to be shined!

Ps. 66:16-20

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.

17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.

18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;

19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.

20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

Fear and Faith

Jason Petermann  —  December 7, 2010 — 1 Comment

Fear will make you wonder about the future, faith gets you through the day you are in.

Fear will cause you to have pain of the unknown, faith allows you to celebrate the known.

Fear will flood your mind with uncertainty, faith floods your mind with peace.

Fear will cause feelings of loss, faith brings a promise of great gain.

In the end, fear will bring defeat, while faith brings victory.  I choose faith.

God loves me and because of that I can say

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”

1 John 4:18