Wednesday, December 21, 2011
A Gift of Hope that Lights Up Our Lives
Recently I was reading sections from the Book of Isaiah. I love some of Isaiah’s prophetic words telling of a day when God will reign, declaring the good news of a Deliverer, proclaiming the day when a virgin will bring forth a Son who will establish the throne of David with power and might. What I find interesting about these messages from Isaiah, is that to the first hearers and readers they come in the midst of political, spiritual and economic despair. Israel’s greatness had diminished. The enemies of the land were all around. Hope was all but gone.
What I find encouraging for us today, is that this is how God works. And this is what this Christmas season announces to me. God is all about bringing light in the midst of darkness. He brings great hope in the midst of despair. When things can’t seem to get much worse, God introduces the promise of a Deliverer for His people. God is the author of Surprise, more so than any other surprise giver. He is a God of hope; a hope that literally lights up our lives.
This Advent Season, Sandi and I are praying that God will bring you the gift of Hope. We’re asking Him to enter into the cracks and crevices of despair you may be feeling, and bring a surprise of grace, of love, yes of hope. We’re praying that Christmas would be very personal for each of you; a personal renewal of your heart, of your passion for God, of confidence that God can overcome the greatest challenges in your life and ministry. I know that this is what Christmas can do and be!
“For to us a Child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this”
Isa 9: 6-7.
May the God of Israel give you and yours a special gift of hope this Advent Season. We love you and thank God for each of you.
Warmly in Jesus,
Dan and Sandi Peterson,
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I am grateful for the opportunity to travel to
This summer I had the opportunity to preach in several Ukrainian churches and to share the Word of God with leaders of the Baptist Union of Western Ukraine. The settings were varied. One was in a formal and traditional church, one of the largest Baptist Churches in western
In each of these different settings, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. I’m not used to preaching to a group of children! I’m not necessarily all that comfortable in an overly formal service! Preaching outdoors in the heat of the sun, was not really all that much fun, either! Of course, in each setting, I was speaking with the aid of an interpreter.
While the settings were different, and I was somewhat uncomfortable in each situation, the common thread was that in each situation, I felt God’s power and anointing in amazing ways! I could tell that the hearts of the Ukrainian children were really touched through my simple children’s sermon. In the traditional
Without a doubt, the common thread for me was a need to depend upon the Lord. I felt a simple yet powerful desire to be an instrument in God’s hand. I really wanted the people to hear God, not me. I believe I was open to the Spirit of God, and as a result, He worked in wonderful ways through me.
This one facet of my ministry in Ukraine has reminded me that nothing can replace the power of depending on God in my preaching, in my leading, and in all I do. Again, ministering in
Thanks for letting me share a bit of my journey!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
God is moving across the MidAtlantic. Hearts and minds of leaders and churches are being ignited for the mission of Christ. It’s a wonderful thing to experience and play a part in!
That’s the sense that many of the over 200 leaders and participants were feeling as our Ignite Midatlantic Leadership Conference concluded at First Baptist Church of Glenarden on Friday evening, June 24th. After two full days of learning, listening, interacting, sharing, eating, and mostly, hearing from God, Converge MidAtlantic leaders and churches ARE IGNITED to move forward and transform our communities with the love and power of Jesus Christ. Many shared that this Ignite Conference was truly an historic event in our movement. Praise God for His power and presence in our midst.
Some of my personal highlights included:
Incredible Plenary Messages from Pastor John Jenkins, Pastor Al Detter, Admiral Barry Black, Pastor Mark Batterson, Damian Williams, and Dr. Jerry Sheveland. God truly spoke through each of these leaders in amazing ways. The theme of PRAYER and the spiritual authority we have as followers of Jesus stood out in many of these teachings. DVD’s of each of these plenary sessions can be obtained by emailing Anna Rolland at the Converge MidAtlantic office at: Anna@convergemidatlantic.com.
Outstanding Hospitality from First Baptist Church of Glenarden as they served us and served Christ throughout the entire Event. Our meeting room accommodations, transportation support, the meal services, greeters and host personnel; all servants of Christ, helped to make our experience a pleasant and very enjoyable one. Thank you to all of our friends at First Baptist, Glenarden
Engaging Diversity modeled by Pastor Michael Henderson, Damian Williams, and Rod Hairston as they hosted our sessions throughout the two days. We truly enjoyed connecting up with those who are doing ministry in settings that are vastly different than ours. We learned from those who are younger than us, and for some, from those who are older. We were blessed by the Choir of First Baptist, Glenarden, and Stephen Hurd, Director. We were reminded that the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to this world is not an individual thing, but requires partnership and teamwork. What a wonderful blessing this diversity is in our Converge Midatlantic movement.
Inspiring Video Stories: I personally was inspired and greatly encouraged as a result of the Video stories we saw throughout the two-day conference. They helped us all see that God is working all over our region. We witnessed a church moving from “dysfunction to disciplemaking” in Mentor, OH. We saw “10 years of community transformation” in the Washington DC area. We saw a wonderful “Multi-site Movement” occurring in the Centre Region of Pennsylvania. Of course, we saw the “Ignite Torch” carried across our MidAtlantic region, as a reminder of the 85 communities we are currently seeking to transform, and the opportunities ahead of us to make an even greater impact. I want to personally thank Steve Lowe from The Journey Church Community in Eldersburg, MD, for his servant leadership in the video production. Thanks a million, Steve!
Each of the video pieces can be viewed on Vimeo, by logging on to our Converge MidAtlantic website and clicking on the “vimeo” link.
Practical Breakout Teachings: I was so impressed with the hard work that each of the breakout presenters put into their sessions on Thursday and Friday afternoon. I was equally encouraged as I heard responses from so many who spoke so highly of the benefit from these breakout sessions. I want to thank each leader who gave of their time and effort to teach these hands on sessions. Thank you to: Cindy Finley, Pastor John Jenkins, William Gentry, Vince DiPaola, Dan Nold, Dee and Jerry Sheveland, Dave Scull, Jeremy Copeland, John Cournan, Michael Henderson, Bill Heaton, Belynda Gentry, and Bobby Watkins. Truly, God used each of you to help us to grow and to learn.
Where do we go from here? Converge MidAtlantic is positioned to continue to Ignite a movement across our region and around the world in the coming year and years. Of course it’s going to happen through each of our 85 member churches as they advance the cause of the Gospel and multiply disciples, and leaders, and churches. As we partner together, some of the “next steps” for our movement as a whole include opportunities such as: A Lead Pastor Coaching Cluster launching this fall, an Impact Church Network Event planned for October 19-21 in Charlotte, NC, and a newly revised First Steps Training for church planters and church planting coaches, planned for February 1-3, 2012.
As our Church Planting leadership team met on Wednesday, prior to the Ignite Conference, we collected some information from churches in our movement that have indicated their intent to plant/daughter new churches, or to expand through multi-site venues during the next four years. We tallied the number which came to 24 new churches or sites in the coming four-year period of time. We’re working hard to build a sound strategy and put all of the systems in place to see this become a reality. We want to be held accountable by you and by God for the resources and gifts we have been given. We really do want to do our part to Ignite a movement of transformation across our region and around the world.
Thanks for playing your part on this team. Thanks for being a part of Ignite MidAtlantic.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
In early January, 2011, I had the opportunity to experience a personal leadership summit; a 14 hour interactive journey with a life coach. It involved walking through my life story, looking at life themes and patterns, gaining feedback and perspective from others, and then beginning to work out some action plans for this next chapter in my life. It was one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had.
A couple of weeks later, in mid January, I participated in a similar life charting retreat with a group of business and church leaders. This was the beginning of our Converge MidAtlantic focused ministry to business leaders across our region. Again, what an incredible experience this was for all who were involved. Many leaders commented that this was one of the most helpful 3 day events they had ever experienced. We’re hoping that the positive energy and new commitments made from this retreat will make a lasting imprint on each person’s life as we seek to hold one another accountable through ongoing huddles and experiences.
Through these 2 significant experiences, I’m coming to discover some important lessons that are starting to seep into my leadership, my family life, and I believe my relationship with God. Here are some of the life lessons I’m discovering:
• God is a loving Father, weaving together the various chapters and pages of our life into a beautiful and meaningful story. Our job is to be open to learn, to hear from Him and others, and to take responsibility for what we can help co-create. Yet, there is so much to the thread of God’s love and grace, woven through your story and mine. He really does love and care for us, His children.
• All of us are so incredibly blessed. When I pause to reflect on my life, the people in my life, my life experiences, and even the material possessions I have to enjoy, I am truly a blessed person. Again, my responsibility is to recognize these blessings as having come from The Father, and to become an ever growing generous steward of all that God has blessed me with.
• Perspective is so important. It really is crucial to hear from others, to reflect on my past experiences, to look at patterns of thinking, acting and interacting, all before I plan and move into an action mode. So often I want to dive in and change things. Yet, I am acting and reacting in ways that are not productive without proper perspective. God, help me to slow down and gain needed perspective before I move forward!
• Accountability is absolutely vital as I chart the next chapter of my story. While I may want to think that I have the courage and capacity to make necessary changes and to stay on course, the reality is, I can’t do it alone. I need the help of my wife, of meaningful others who know me and care for me, and of course of God Himself. My job is to learn to submit, to build an appropriate accountability system, and to receive from others. This is so hard for many of us. Believe me, I know!
This life charting journey has been an immensely helpful thing for me, for my marriage, and for my leadership journey. We’re planning to incorporate this process into more and more of what we do here in Converge MidAtlantic, as we come along side leaders in business and in the church. Two helpful resources that any leader may want to consider are:
• Living the Life You Were Meant to Live, by Tom Paterson
• Halftime, by Bob Buford
Thanks for sharing in part of my journey. May the Father continue to lead you as you “chart” the coming chapters of your story.
Embracing the Journey,