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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Today was a much clearer picture of life in Moldova and the overall mission of Beginning of Life Ministry (BoL).

Yesterday Jenni shared about what the school visits were like. My experience was similar minus the singing part. Kids were extremely gracious, curious and well mannered. My group spoke to 4 classes at the 11th and 12 grade levels. When I asked them if they could go anywhere in the world, where would they go? The most common answers were, New York City or Las Vegas.

This morning we spent a couple hours at the psychological art center which is another ministry of BoL. This facility is designed to use art as a form of therapy and teach skills that can transfer into income. They craft a bunch of cool things that can be purchased in their little store. Their customers up to this point have been special orders from larger countries and short term mission teams that visit. Now they are in the process of opening a little retail store front in their building which should give them much more exposure.

They have an extremely talented artist teach painting as an art form not only for therapy but as a way to create things people will want to buy. The other gals teach the girls, often times single moms, life skills that include sewing and crafting. The items range from bags crafted from used denim jeans to dolls and stuffed animals created from socks. Every single item is made by the girls and the sale proceeds go back to them to help cover living expenses. It’s a great reason to purchase stuff. Here are a couple paintings that weren’t for sale that one of our team members purchased anyway.

Baby Crying Photo

Candles Photo

From the art center we went out in small teams to visit single moms who have been or still a part of one of these ministries. These visits include bringing a toy or two for the children and bag of groceries to help the family. A typical single mom has difficulty even earning a couple hundred dollars in a month. Most tiny apartments will use up all their income in just the rent. On top of the rent they have expenses like heat, electricity and so on. Their utility costs are very similar to ours in the States yet their opportunity to earn income is so much more limited. From our perspective it seems impossible to survive. Here is a story of one of the families we visited

As Jenni also shared in her post today, my favorite part of the day was celebrating Valentina’s 18th birthday. It makes me want to focus on reminding people of how special they are in God’s eyes no matter what trauma or mistakes they’ve experienced. Everyone was so intentional in showing her love and you could tell she soaked it up. She is finally in a place in life to begin to receive love and believe that it is real. This may sound very simple to many of us but it has taken her over a year of intense recovery to begin to believe that she has value and that there is geniune love with no strings attached. She is finally understanding the heart of God. This is all happening because of the heart and intentional actions of the BoL staff.

Looking at life back home, I want to take a little piece of what I have seen in action here and begin to duplicate it in El Paso. I want to live more on purpose each day to influence a society in my back yard that can have a ripple effect for generations. I am so thankful for each of these BoL team members and what they have taught us all and for the inspiration they have offered me in this short visit.

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Since our episode of Unfaithful aired yesterday on OWN  I thought it was a good time to discuss what it’s like to remember something awful.

Everyone knows the saying, “forgive and forget”. Well it’s simply not a very truthful saying. Even after you forgive, you will likely remember forever. The power of forgiveness is the memory does not get to control you or your emotions any longer.

Watching the show last night with Jenni was almost as difficult as sitting in counseling sessions shortly after she confessed to me. The pain was fresh, raw and totally disturbing.

I was humiliated very publicly.

Don’t read into what I am saying here. It was by choice and I don’t regret sharing so publicly. BUT, it was painful and difficult to endure in the moment.

As much as I want to crawl back in a hole and feel sorry for myself . Instead I am choosing to move forward, to push closer to Jenni and to continue to chose forgiveness over bitterness. God has worked a miraculous restoration in our marriage and I am very grateful. In all sincerity this experience has proved to be another layer of healing in our marriage and a kick in the head for Satan.

If you are dealing with betrayal or struggling with something you need to confess. Please be encouraged that there is healing and forgiveness available to you. Your story may turn out very different than ours but I know that I wouldn’t change much of anything from the past two years. As painful as it has been, the rewards are far greater. My encouragement to you is to simply do the next “right” thing. You probably know what that is.

Mrs. Clayville,

I am so proud of your willingness to be humbled, vulnerable, and even attacked by a few. I know your heart. Everything you have shared publicly was intentional in order to help a few ladies avoid making the same mistakes. To right a wrong. I am proud of you for risking everything with just a slight hope that you would be able to live with me in total honesty and purity. I am not sure if I could have made the incredibly difficult decisions that you have made along this journey of restoration. You will have a special place in the God’s kingdom one day. I love you.

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In The World

Recently I went to a Mexican Restaurant with a bar here in El Paso. I like to go there every few weeks to play in a free poker tournament. It’s something I enjoy doing and I am intentionally working my way into a community of people we would call “unchurched”. The thing is, I just see them as people who have normal concerns, pain and a longing for happiness in their life.

They are no different than me accept most of them have no relationship with their Creator. One particular person stands out from the crowd. She is an amazingly warm and friendly woman I’ll call Virginia. Virginia is 63 years old.  Looking at Virginia you would not think of your typical grandmotherly type. She is completely covered in tattoos, she is not afraid to hug every man in the bar and will talk about absolutely anything with just about anyone. She has befriended me over the past couple months and introduced me to several regulars.

The last time I went to play I got to sit next to Virginia and I started asking about her tattoos. She told me about the next one she wants to get and showed me a necklace that it would be copied from. She asked if I knew what it said or meant. I had no clue.

As she began to explain the symbol for slaves she asked if I knew anything about Dominatrix. Me, a little in shock, said no. She procedes to tell me about her current “Slave” relationship with a retired high ranking military man. She grew up inside the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. She said her mom was a slave to her father and so this lifestyle is really all she has known. She is basically the property of this man and has to submit to pretty much whatever he tells her to do. It is quite fascinating and frightening all at the same time.

Virginia asked if I was freaked about what she was telling me. Inside, I was a little freaked out but I told her I wasn’t. It became crystal clear to me in that moment that I am speaking to someone who has lived in dark captivity her whole life and she doesn’t even know it. Satan has so deceived her since she was a little child that she now believes this is a totally acceptable lifestyle. I silently prayed for her to be released from satan’s bondage and to know what God’s freedom feels like. The conversation died for a while and I just pondered the things she had revealed to me. I felt honored to be given this opportunity to know so much about her and to know that I am able to show her what a relationship with my Savior looks like.

Eventually I asked her what it was like to be inside the Hells Angels. She said all the “myths” that I have heard are not myths at all. It is not a friendly organization. She went on to tell me some more things that were hard to fathom. She also told me that she has had experiences with ghosts or spirits. Early in our conversation I sensed that she was in severe spiritual bondage and the more she shared the more her spiritual captivity became apparent.

In my past I would have written Virginia off as a weirdo and moved on. Now, her situation really bothers me. I truly want to help her find freedom in Christ. The thing I know is I have to show her the power of God. She has to have some desire to be set free. These things will only happen if I show her unconditional love and acceptance.

How do I do that?

Honestly, I don’t have a clear answer yet. At this point all I can do is spend time where she hangs and continually pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our conversations and give me insight. Please join me in praying for the Virginia and the many other hurting people in El Paso.

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So I feel very convicted from my time with God this morning. He is asking me to share what I am learning with the people around me that are ready to learn…Some of you are probably way more knowledgeable than me in these topics, others may have no interest at all. This is for the people who are interested but maybe not sure where to start.

Let me give you a little background on why I speak with confidence on these topics. From 1999 to 2007 I worked in the residential mortgage business in Portland, OR and dabbled in real estate investing. From 2007-2010 I was a licensed financial advisor and went through a lot of product training. Over the past two years I have invested a lot of time in reading and studying economics and the issues that are effecting all of our personal finances. Most importantly I have done a lot of praying and seeking God’s wisdom in these areas.

Jenni and I  have systematically reduced our monthly expenses from a high of around $7500 per month a few years ago down to around $3500 today. We believe in living a simple life with an emphasis on investing in people and ministry. We believe that we have been adopted into the Kingdom of Heaven. Being children of the Kingdom we are blessed with unlimited resources when we follow His instructions for living and claim His promises in faith. (this is a whole other post or 10).

Today I want to focus on a few points that can be found in the parable of the talents Matthew 25:14-30 NKJV. Come on a short journey with me.

  • Those who have spent time seeking wisdom will be given more to manage. there is real truth to this, we are instructed to seek wisdom and understanding in regards to growing and protecting our resources. We need to be excellent stewards and treat what God has given us with the utmost care.
  • We should not hoard what God has entrusted to us. Money needs to flow to grow.
  • The treasures of the Kingdom are entrusted to His servants. Look closely at verse 14 where it specifically talks about who was given the talents to manage.
  • He trusts us to do our research and to make decisions with the wisdom He is imparting to us. Seek Him, do your research, seek wise council, be decisive and pay attention. (After the talents were distributed He went on a journey verse 15). We may not hear a clear yes or no on every financial decision that we face.
  • We should not paralyzed by be fear and indecision. (This is a tough one for me because I am not decisive naturally and from childhood I learned to live in fear). Look at verse 25 because I think this speaks to most of us. Once we have done our due diligence we need to take action.

Please meditate on this parable and pray for wisdom to be revealed to you. It is extremely important to draw out what God has to say to you personally. My only objective is to get you to start thinking and asking questions so you can act wisely and decisively.

Interested in some fabulous resources? Contact me by email, Facebook or twitter and I will be happy to share them.

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“Identity”

This is a topic I have been struggling with for a long time.  I have grown up with a “pauper” mentality.  This is something I did not understand until the past month or so.  There were glimpses of revelation into this for me over the past five years or so but real understanding and clarity didn’t enter my mind until very recently.

My 4th quarter 2010 reading list includes: “When Heaven Invades Earth” Bill Johnson, “The Supernatural Power of the Transformed Mind” Bill Johnson, “The Tangible Kingdom” Hugh Halter & Matt Smay, “The Supernatural Ways of Royalty” Kris Vallotton & Bill Johnson

I have to tell you, my mind is being renewed daily. I am realizing how much I have focused on what people think of me and how insignificantly I view myself.

When I committed my life to Christ, I received a new identity “Prince”.  This revelation alone is allowing me to take captive my thoughts. Especially the ones that say I am merely a sinner or cause me to question who I am. How dare I think that I could have an impact for God with my measly little life?  These thoughts must be obliterated!

As I write this, I don’t have a clue how my bills will get paid because I have no income.  I am behind on rent to my current landlord.  I am getting ready to move in a couple weeks to a new city 1800 miles away to follow God’s call to ministry.  If I spend even a minute thinking about what I can provide or accomplish on my own, I immediately feel defeated and depressed. Fear is ever present if I allow it to enter my mind.

My only hope in these last couple weeks has been to pray for God to fill me up with courage and strength.  To spend hours daily engaged in study of God’s Word and these books written by men who have an incredible understanding of “identity in Christ”.

I guess the whole point I want to make today is this; don’t listen to what any voice says about you if it is counter to what Jesus has made abundantly clear about you.

  • You are a Child of the King.
  • This makes you a brother or sister of the risen Christ.
  • You are worthy of every good thing in our Father’s Kindgom and it is available to you today.
  • Stop waiting for Heaven and start living as a Prince today

I would love to hear feedback from you. Do you know your identity?

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Thanksgiving

Thank you Lord for life

Thank you Lord for freedom in you

Thank you Lord for freedom in this Country

Thank you Lord for family (especially mine)

Thank you Lord for a day to rest, refresh, eat and be joyful with the ones we love.

May your day be filled with blessings from the Lord today.  Take time to thank Him and those around you for what they mean to you.

Be Blessed

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Continued sort of…

Today I am cheating and using what Jenni has already shared about our trip

I will give my thoughts in more detail another day.

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