“Faith is scary and dangerous; it’s also the only way to move the Kingdom of Heaven forward in any way, shape, or form.”
Our most recent guest on the Ask About My Faith podcast, Ben Peterson, shares incredible stories of faith, discipleship, and redemption.
Ben Peterson is a husband, father, and combat veteran who served in Iraq in 2008-2009. Now, Ben trains soldiers in the 101st Airborne and ministers to soldiers through Engage Your Destiny, a ministry he founded in 2016, and through which he has led over 6000 soldiers to Christ.
From the start of our conversation, it is clear that redemption and discipleship are recurring themes in Ben’s life, starting with his own journey with the Lord. He was raised by a father who loved God, but Ben had a tremulous relationship with religion. It wasn’t until he witnessed his high school bully radically transformed by God that he, to, decided to give his life to God.
We Are Created for Community
“The most core human drive in every person is to fit in. Every single one of us wants to belong somewhere, with someone, with something.”
While in college, Ben was still a relatively young believer. He found himself struggling to build and maintain a relationship with God. We all have a deep need to fit in, and without a Christ-centered community and culture to be a part of, Ben found himself seeking that sense of belonging in the world through partying.
He eventually reached a point where he knew that God had more for him, and he needed to make a change. He found himself at a friend’s Bible study and he felt the Holy Spirit. It was a moment that changed the course of his life forever.
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The Redeeming Power of God
Redemption is a recurring theme in Ben’s stories of faith. We learn about a soldier named Alex who thought of himself as a heathen. He even went so far as to tattoo the title on his body. He joined the military to avoid going to prison and, even though he was excelling, he made some bad choices. He ultimately made the humbling decision to take a drastic demotion, leading Alex to join Ben’s class. Alex was vulnerable, humbled, and ready to make a change.
God met him where he was, and Ben’s talk of Christ’s redemption made everything click into place for Alex. Now, Alex is part of their discipleship program and is receiving the support and encouragement he needs to grow in his faith.
Ben also shares a story from his college years, when he met Isaiah on the streets of Minneapolis. Feeling inspired after a night of worship, Ben and his friend looked for people to share God’s love with. They met Isaiah, who was surprisingly friendly and eager to brag about his “player” status.
They found him entertaining and managed to bring the conversation back to the primary mission. When they offered to pray for him, after an awkward pause, Isaiah began opening up about his past.
He was a former pastor who lost his position after having an affair. He’d lived in shame and guilt for five years, knowing God had more for him. As they prayed for Isaiah, some part of him awakened. He began preaching and quoting scripture. Meanwhile, Ben and his friend were awestruck by the incredible words coming out of his mouth.
The message in both stories is clear: you are never too far gone, and God is always moving in your life.
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Learning to Pay Attention
God is always thinking, speaking, and moving, and it’s our job to pay attention and be willing to set out in faith.
This plays out in Ben’s encounter with two other people. In both instances, Ben stopped and allowed God to lead him to connect with someone who was broken. Erick was a homeless musician struggling with addiction. His encounter with Ben led to him getting help through Teen Challenge. A flight attendant struggled with alcoholism and had feelings of guilt and shame.
In both situations, Ben was present with them. He listened and connected with them, was open and vulnerable with them, and allowed them to do the same. He didn’t preach or try to share the gospel with them. Ben allowed God to guide him and the Holy Spirit to speak through him, which they needed.
“It’s amazing how many strangers will tell you their story if you are willing to take a step. Then in that, when you relate with someone, you look them in the eye, you show them you care, you truly listen to them, you relate to them and tell them a little.”
Advice from Ben
Nothing of eternal worth can be done apart from God.
The one thing Ben wanted to make sure all of our listeners and readers took away from our time together is a reminder that nothing of eternal worth can be done apart from God. This is why it is vital for us all to learn how to listen to God’s voice and follow His guidance.
“We need to learn the voice of God. It’s like a muscle. It truly is something that needs to be developed and trained. If you don’t use it, you lose it, or it gets dull.”
Ben offers valuable advice if you struggle to hear God’s voice or feel his guidance. Start your day by grabbing your Bible and asking God what He wants to say to you. Then open your Bible and practice allowing God to guide you. You might think of a scripture reference or allow your fingers to thumb through pages. Practice listening to your heart.
It will take time and patience, but it is an excellent way to train your spiritual listening skills.
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