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You're Invited

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While eating lunch with someone the other day, I had the privilege of sharing the story of how I became a follower of Jesus Christ. An important part of that story involves a few friends who would not stop inviting me to church. They knew this cool truth: they were inviting me to something much greater than a building or place to fellowship and worship—they  were inviting me to encounter Jesus Christ. Their lives had been radically changed by Jesus, and they wanted me to have the same opportunity.

 

 

 

My life was eternally changed because someone invited me to church.  I also really love my church. These two realities  are constant motivators to invite others to church.

YOU'RE INVITED...

I'm living proof that those two (ok, really three) simple words can  change a person’s life forever. I keep one of our invite cards just below my monitor so that every day I am reminded of one simple but profoundly important opportunity I can engage in each and  every day—inviting people to church. 

I wish I could tell you I acted on every opportunity I have been given to invite friends and even strangers to church, but unfortunately I have not. You might be in the same boat as me. I guess the lunch I had the other day really inspired me to look at this with a fresh perspective as I was telling this person about how Jesus changed my life. 

The good news is: each new day presents brand new opportunities. The great news is: it is really not a hard thing to do. The church is the greatest place I go to each week. Just think with me for a moment about what we get to do at church…worship a truly wonderful and awesome God, share life with incredible and encouraging people, engage God’s holy and inspiring Word, and do something truly meaningful as a family. Believe me, the list could go on, but I will stop there.

STOP & REFLECT

I would like to challenge you to stop for a minute as you read this and reflect on what the church is to you and how Jesus has changed your life. As you do that, I pray you, too, will be inspired to be a part of impacting someone else’s life for eternity by simply inviting them to church.

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The Lost Art of Listening

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Confession time. I hate to admit it, but I am addicted to one game in particular on my iPhone—Solitaire. It may not sound that exciting or compelling to you, but I play the daily challenge game every day.  

Not that long ago, my wife Amy needed to talk through our day and the different places she needed to be and what she needed me to do. Not my finest husband moment, but as she detailed out the agenda, I was immersed in my Solitaire game. I made sure to offer a few grunts and “Okays” to avoid blowing my cover. It didn’t take long for her to see through my distracted, overly-generic responses. “You are playing solitaire!” Busted. “You probably haven’t heard anything I have said,” she charged. Being a rather skilled multi-tasker, I rattled off everything she said, exactly the way she said it.

I felt rather proud of myself. But I shouldn’t have. Being able to recite her words wasn’t really the point. I had heard everything she said, but I wasn’t really listening to her. What’s the difference? 

I have been blessed from the beginning of our relationship by Amy because she is one of the best listeners I have ever encountered. (Truly, I’ve heard from many others who have engaged in conversations with her who have said about the same thing, so I’m not just biased.)  My wife has a way of making a person feel like a million dollars because she shows a genuine interest in others and what they have to say. She takes the time to listen, hear and honestly try to understand what someone is communicating. I wish I could say this skill has rubbed off over the past seventeen years, but sadly it hasn’t.  

In the first sermon of the Happily Ever After series, Dr. Lincoln referenced the book The Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols—a must-read for pretty much  everyone. In reading this book, I learned listening is more than just hearing, and it’s a skill that I can improve. 

 


Tweet: Listening is more than just hearing. It’s a skill we can improve. @b_mpete @shandonbaptist http://bit.ly/246bPCTClick to tweet: "Listening is more than just hearing. It’s a skill we can improve."


 

Listening well is both an art and a skill that requires work, intentionality, and selflessness. That last requirement is probably the hardest to overcome. We all like to talk…especially about ourselves. Nichols says we must learn to “suspend self” to be a better listener. If you don’t believe me, think back to the last time someone told you about a vacation or a trip to a place you have been. What did you do next? Did you ask three or four follow-up questions about the trip and probe for more information? Or did you jump right in with, “Well, when we went there last year we…”  It might not have been just like that, but I bet it was close.  

According to Nichols, when we engage in this behavior we think we are being a good listener by showing how we can relate to the other person and his/her story. In essence, however, we are taking the emphasis off the person speaking and shifting it back to ourselves. We always have a point to make or something to prove, and this makes listening well a real challenge.

Dr. Nichols says, “Genuine listening is taking a real interest in the person talking.”  This requires more than just sincerity; it requires you to suspend self. You must let go of what’s on your mind long enough to hear and understand what is on the other person’s mind and heart.  In my case, I should have put down the phone, quit playing Solitaire, and given Amy my undivided attention so I could understand what she needed from me for the day. 

Listening is a skill you can employ to bless others—your spouse, your children, employees and coworkers, etc.  I challenge you to go get The Lost Art of Listening  and see how it can improve your listening skills and teach you to be an active, responsive listener. The practical insights and truths of this book can benefit all your relationships—from family to work and from casual to intimate. While this is not a “Christian” book, it certainly underscores a very biblical principle: “…But everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19). 

If you choose to read it, let me know what insights you find most helpful and how it affects your relationships…just don’t try to tell me while I’m playing Solitaire.

 


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO IMPROVE YOUR MARRIAGE

Happily Ever After, sermon series by Dick Lincoln

Love and Respect,
by Emerson Eggerichs

 

 

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