Culture or Love of God – Which constrains me?

This is the first draft of a column for the Newberry Observer. I rewrote it to be less direct for the paper but felt I wanted to have my “full-say” here.

Culture or Love of God – Which constrains me?

When Mr. Jimmy prayed in church on Sunday I got stuck on his first phrase and, I admit I didn’t hear much else he said. He started like this. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of coming to you today.” 

Privilege. He said privilege. 

I am a PK. That means preacher’s kid to those of you who don’t know and since this is the Bible Belt that’s probably not many. My Daddy is a Baptist minister and has been most of my life. In fact he was in Seminary when I was born and is still going strong. 

 I love church. My week is not complete if I don’t go to church Sunday Morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday evening. Call me weird but that is who I am. That is my culture. 

Because of that I feel comfortable here in the South. Out West people are more private about their faith. They don’t speak as freely about their church affiliations. When you pray in a restaurant you stand out, you are conspicuous. Not here. Here, there is nothing unusual about a table full of people bowing their heads to pray before eating their meal at Ronnie’s. 

Jesus is a big part of the culture in the South and I love it 

However, I have to wonder sometimes if that’s all it is to us. A part of our culture.  That’s why my mind got stuck on the word “privilege”. I’m so blessed to know it is my privilege to come to God, to attend church. But do I look at it as a privilege? Am I attending church for the right reasons? I’m sure God is pleased that I am there, regardless of my motives, but am I receiving the full blessing I could? These are some questions I ask myself. 

After the prayer, I pulled myself together and listened as Pastor Clark preached on the Love of God. He spoke of the truth that it is the Love of God that constrains us. 

 Ah, there is the answer. Church attendance shouldn’t be because it is my culture. It should be simply because God loves me and that love is so powerful, so overwhelming that I can’t wait to get there. 

It’s like when I am going home to South Dakota to see my family. I can’t wait for that plane to land or the car to travel those last hundred miles. I go every chance I get. I make sacrifices so that I can go. If I don’t go often enough I become unhappy. (My husband might even use the word crabby.) The love for my family constrains me to go. There would be something wrong if I went simply because it was my culture.

That’s what bothered me when Mr. Jimmy prayed. The Love of God should constrain me, not the Culture to which I was born. After all, as a child of the living God it is my privilege to be in church.

It’s something to think about, isn’t it?

Come, Holy Spirit

I was sitting at the piano this evening, singing my way through a song book. I came to this song. It’s not my usual style but every time I sing it I am grabbed with the powerful truth. Tonight more than usual. With the challenges we face in our nation and world today I couldn’t help but think that this song is quite fitting. As in every age what the world needs is for Christ to work through his people. The thing is. . . we are His people. Are we letting Him use us as we should?

For as long as I can remember, my Daddy has been burdened and praying for revival. I believe that we all need to follow his example. What America needs isn’t a new economic program. It’s not a new batch of people in Washington, although I’m thinking it can’t hurt. What the world and America need today is for God’s people to surrender to the Holy Spirit and let God change the world through us. Are we up for the challenge? 

Come, Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost; He came in mighty fullness then.

His witness thru believers won the lost, And multitudes were born again.

The early Christians scattered o’er the world; They preached the gospel fearlessly.

Tho’ some were martyred and to lions hurled, They marched along in victory!


Come, Holy Spirit, Dark is the hour. We need Your filling, Your love and Your mighty power.

Move now among us, Stir us, we pray;

Come, Holy Spirit, Revive the Church today!

Verse 2:

Then in an age when darkness gripped the earth, “The just shall live by faith” was learned.

The Holy Spirit gave the Church new birth, as reformation fires burned.

In later years the great revivals came, When saints would seek the Lord and pray.

O once again we need that holy flame, to meet the challenge of today!


Come, Holy Spirit, Dark is the hour. We need Your filling, Your love and Your mighty pow’r.

Move now among us, stir us, we pray;

Come, Holy Spirit. Revive the Church today.

by John W. Peterson

Pay Pal – Up and Running

In the never-ending attempt to sell books we have Pay Pal up and running on the website. Now it is much easier to order a book or ten from my website. I know kids are back to school now. Maybe they have a book report. This would be an awesome book for that purpose. Maybe you know they are going to be invited to umpty-jillion birthday parties this year! This book is a great gift for a boy or a girl. Maybe you are a grandparent looking for a birthday or Christmas gift for little Dick, Jane, or Sally! Have I got a deal for you!

Check it out! We will be making more updates to the website soon so go frequently. Tell your friends about this book. And please, please pray. The manuscript and proposal for the second book in the series will be sent Tuesday to a publisher. I really would like it if a traditional publisher would pick up the second book.

Thanks for reading my blog. I am so blessed to have this opportunity. I am amazed every time I see someone has chosen to come and read these little things I write. Now, if you want to read the BIG THING I wrote, go to my website. 🙂 🙂

Like No Other Place

A few days before he died, I sat by Grandpa Jones’ bed in the nursing home. He fiddled with the blankets, frustrated that his life was nearing an end. He wanted to be home. He wanted things how they used to be. The silence was painful for me, and since I don’t believe in silence I started the conversation with a question. “Grandpa, what was the favorite place you ever lived?” 

Without hesitation he answered; “Survey Valley.” 

I wasn’t surprised. The Survey Valley is in the Sandhills of Nebraska, north of Ashby. It is the place they moved to, by covered wagon, in 1913. Grandpa was eight. He grew up there, he married there, and his heart really never left. He wrote about it in his books; the people and the places. 

From 1978-2005 the places I lived in Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota all led to a frequent traveling of Highway 2 through the Sandhills to get to Grandpa and Grandma’s. Even now, when we travel to Rapid City, we travel via Highway 2 most of the time, just from the opposite direction. So indirectly, I have developed a love of the Sandhills. It feels like home. It is the place of my roots. My Daddy was born in this sod house in the sandhills during the depression. My Uncle Jim is the boy in the picture. 

I remember once, when I was about seven the family made a trek one Saturday up to the site of the old sod house. It wasn’t there anymore. If I remember right, we found some foundations on the property and an old garbage dump. What I remember most though about that day was the feeling that pervaded the air. It seemed everyone was a little excited mixed with sadness. Everyone wanted to see the place where. . . 

Last September my sister and I drove Highway 2 on our way to, and from Grandma’s birthday party. I realized that I didn’t remember traveling the Sandhills in the fall. Maybe it was just the fact that the Sandhills never look quite the same any two years. This year, in particular the colors were amazing. Oh, not the bright colors you see out east, but subtle hues. It was awe-inspiring.

September Sandhills

Yesterday I spent a lovely sweet hour reading a book I ordered. The name is Like No Other Place – The Sandhills of Nebraska by David A. Owen. My cousin Gordon and his wife Jan brought the book to the reunion and I really wanted one of my own. Mr. Owen is from Connecticut and spent a year in the Sandhills learning the people and the land. He took pictures and then he put together this fabulous book. I could hear my Grandpa talking as I read the stories in the book. I can tell you, that if Grandpa and Grandma Jones were living, they would not only own this book, they would be its best promoters. Grandpa liked books with lots of pictures. Grandma loved the Sandhills too.

Gordon is pictured in the book which is fitting. I’ve always felt that Gordon is the most like Grandpa. He is the oldest grandson and benefited from the most years around Grandpa. He and Jan moved their family to the middle of the Sandhills. I still remember the pride in Grandpa’s voice when he spoke of their move. He was sad they would be farther away from him but oh my, there was a bit of jealousy that he couldn’t be the one moving there.

So, my recommendation today is that you go to Amazon, or your local bookstore and buy this book. Whether you have ever been to the Sandhills or not it will be interesting for you to read. I think he caught the essence of what the Sandhills are as well as what it means to be a Sandhiller.