Petersons Old Veit Farm Reflections

I have blind spots and a lot more to learn about everything. Any truth I express is a gift from God. Follow God's "blog," not mine!

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Location: Diamond Lake, Northeast Washington state, United States

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Different Kind of Near Death Experience (Part 1)

This afternoon I sat for a bit beside Marv, dying. For us who easily forget that we too are dying, it is good to sit near death. We talked about it, and the full life preceding. He wants me to tell the truth at his memorial service, something he has sought to do throughout his long life. Even if it is “bad,” he said.

Will there be more pain? It depends. Perhaps not, if the cancer stays in his liver. But he already feels it in one lung, he thinks, and also started in the other. And he’ll take “whatever the good Lord gives.”

I drove out Fries Lane (an appropriate name given to this good neighbor’s side road, though forced a few years ago by the County’s 911 map naming craze) feeling the nearness of death. Even if I did just turn only 60, even if I do live another 39 years to match my own dad, I want to stay near death.

Life is great, but its meaning comes only with death. There really is nothing “good” about the Friday in Holy Week. Except that “Sunday’s a comin’”!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Saints Glory Days

[Written yesterday]

My appreciation of honoring saints on their glory days grows, now having known some, such as my mother and father. Twelve years ago today (on April 7, 2002) Vivian Eloise Milliken Peterson died at age 85. Exactly nine years later (three years ago today, on April 7, 2011) Elmer Leslie Peterson died at age 99.

Dad chose “Present with the Lord” for mom’s grave marker at Tahoma National Cemetery near Kent, Washington. Those years later, after his graveside service, we sat in the car outside the cemetery office, trying to think of something to have engraved on his side of the marker. We were struggling a bit when the solution finally “popped” into our heads: “Man of God, Full of Years.”

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Am MORE than an Evangelical

I’m headed off to my seventeenth men’s retreat at Camp Wooten in southeast Washington State’s Blue Mountains, sponsored annually by a church in the Pullman-Moscow area. Our guys from Grace Bible Church of Diamond Lake have joined over the years, initially due to a fellow elder’s connection via his brother in that church. Last year I was privileged to be one of the main speakers. (See links to the talk and notes below).
This year I am doing one of the smaller breakout seminar sessions as I’ve often done. The topic of the retreat is evangelism. It’s got me thinking about being an “evangelical.”
In the Autumn of 1980 I was shocked out of my until then largely unquestioned dispensational fundamentalism when I encountered the Holy Spirit in a liberal Presbyterian theologian. During my decades of dancing with Catholic monasticism, I was always struck by periodic testimonies of evangelicals turning (back?) to Rome. More recently I’ve noticed those with evangelical beginnings like my own—Bart Ehrman and Frank Schaeffer, for instance—just sliding away from it all, it seems.
As for me, I just can’t jettison the basics, such as Jesus crucified and resurrected, the Bible as trustworthy and authoritative, and salvation needed from sin. But I have grown to need more of the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For all the wonderful Truth in my tradition, I have this against it: My teachers left out too much!
It seems to me that an honest appraisal of two millennia of Christian faith forbids presumption that only one denomination of theology has gotten it right. I see no evidence in general or special revelation (categories of my limited tradition!) that God is sectarian. O Lord, I am confident that I can know you and love you and your truth. (Hear my prayer, O God.) But this is now my standard boilerplate: “I have blind spots and a lot more to learn about everything!” (Like the cosmic as well as the personal dimension of redemption.)
Last year’s retreat talk on teaching marriage to our children:
Last year’s notes on teaching marriage to our children:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Colors of our World in Northeast Washington

I just returned home from two weeks in the desert Southwest of these great United States.

Working this morning outside a bit around the farm, I’m reminded of the seasonal color changes I’ve not yet grown tired of, over 23 years:

The year begins in sparkling white.

Around now comes mud grey.

Then comes green green green.

(Fortunately one of the characteristics of this northeast corner is that the green stays all year, without the constant rain I grew up in on the west side.)

Then my favorite—if it’s possible to have one—the luminescent gold of Autumn.

(I capitalize the seasons, as in my view they deserve it!)

Eventually yielding once more to sparkling white.

White … grey … green … gold … white.

(I don’t know how to paint, except with words.)

Not long after we moved here I was reading a book of Washington State maps in the Newport library. There was a note something like this at the bottom of the climate map: “Only one area of inhabited Washington State has a growing season less than 90 days: Parts of southern Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.” And I had just left the greater Seattle-Everett rat race around Maltby in order to garden here.

Next week, seeds will once again go into the soil … in the house. (18°F this morning, long gone now in full sun forenoon.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Where do you Live? (With Quiet Desperation)

I’m struck by a line in the 1995 version of the movie Sabrina. In the greenhouse scene with Linus Larrabee, Sabrina says “I know you work in the real world and you're very good at it. But that's work. Where do you live, Linus?”

Where do you live?

Tomorrow I fly out after living for a couple weeks with one of my daughters here in this west side suburb of Las Vegas. As I walked busy Durango Drive this morning from the apartment to the nearby Starbucks inside an Albertsons store, I thought of Thoreau's famous line from Walden. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” There are over a million people in this metropolitan area and much evidence of quiet—and noisy—desperation.

I miss home, where I usually live, where I see only a handful of neighbors from our hillside vista on twenty acres. There are only about 13,000 people in the entire county. When I walk Veit Road it is never busy, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t just as much “desperation” around. Thoreau goes on to imply that there is no difference between the “desperate city” and the “desperate country.”

Come to think of it, I have my own fair share of desperation. It does seem to follow me everywhere. But I’m still ready to return to home sweet home. And hopefully I’m wise enough to avoid doing desperate things, wherever I am!

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” —Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to be the Right Kind of Cult

1. Make sure that the only particular human figure and object of your system of veneration, devotion, and hero-worship is Jesus Christ.

2. Make sure that the only extreme and dangerous belief you hold is that Jesus Christ actually died from crucifixion and then actually rose from the dead.

3. Make sure that the only major book you use as a reference is the Bible in all of its translations and paraphrases from its original languages.

4. Make sure that the only rite and ceremony you require is to love one another as demonstrated by your Founder.

5. Make sure that you condition (“brainwash” and “indoctrinate”) yourself with the mystery and paradox that in Jesus Christ you have confident knowledge of the truth AND that you have remaining blind spots, with more to learn about everything from everyone. Condition yourself with humble confidence and confident humility. Condition yourself with Peter’s conviction that you will always have room to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Condition yourself with the absolute conviction that you yourself are always limited and God’s Spirit is never limited!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Eyes of Your Heart

“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways …” (Proverbs 23:26)

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened …” (Ephesians 1:18)

Motivated by these two verses, I have been studying the biblical connection between the heart and the eyes. This is my conclusion:

When we focus on our own or others’ outward appearance and performance, we are not seeing what God sees. As Jesus emphasized, we need to start with the heart. Only changes made in ours and others’ hearts will make any real or lasting difference.

Our behavior flows from our heart. Changing our behavior or appearance never changes our heart, but changing our heart inevitably affects our behavior. This “one-way street” is the “law of the harvest,” that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). We can know someone by their fruit because, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” (Proverbs 27:19; Matthew 7:15-20) Everything starts in the heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

What makes a desire good or bad is not its object as much as its heart. This is why “to the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure” (Titus 1:15).

Matters of the heart have to do with living persons, dynamic relationships, and true loves. Thus “laws” and “principles” are a “dead-end street”—powerless!—to change the heart. Only the living Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, interacting with our own living spirit, can change our heart. Our hearts are strengthened by God’s grace, not by the strange teachings of others (Hebrews 13:9).

This is major surgery, certainly NOT minimally invasive. The scars become gifts of the Master Surgeon whose skillful hands never make mistakes.

Our heavenly Father urges us, “My child, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways!” When God has our heart and our eyes are on him, we know truth, joy, freedom, and peace. (Otherwise, just like “the camera,” our eyes always lie!)

[Excerpted from “What Do You See with The Eyes of Your Heart?” Request an electronic copy of the full study by email to]