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Traveling Sewer or 5th wheel carrying minister?

I was inspired today not only by spiritual things, but also by the hilarity of 5th wheel living with 2 grown adults and 2 small children, both of whom are still in diapers to some degree. Of course the aspect of potty training that my 3 year old has grasped involves pee and not the more smelly thing that our bodies produce. Between the black water build up (for those non campers that is the nice way of putting smelly sewage) and the diapers piled in the small trash can, our 5th wheel takes on quite a flavorful atmosphere. I know that most missionary and evangelist wives are way more “couth” than I am. I figured that one of my duties on the road is to expose the truth behind being a nomadic mother, dirt, silliness and all. Since we moved into our 5th wheel, the boys share the bunk room. Gentry is on the bottom bunk and Reese is on the top. At any given moment in the middle of the night we can hear the shrieks of terror coming from Gentry and run into the room to find that reese has crawled into bed with him and thinks it is funny to lay on him. Reese will then look at us with his innocent big blue eyes and say “Mommy he needs you, he’s crying”. All of these moments will bring me many years of laughter and great stories, but are definitely teaching me patience at this point in life.

As a self declared obsessive compulsive, 5th wheel living has definitely taught me that clutter and crumbs are not the end of the world, Smelling raw sewage while laying in bed on a clear summers night doesn’t have to hinder romance, and spending hundreds of dollars in disel fuel doesn’t have to kill faith.

Excellence for God

Today I have been sitting here thinking how incredible that it is that God has chosen my family and me for such a great calling and purpose. I have a wonderful husband and two fabulous sons, all given to me by God. We all have choices to make in life, and while there are several choices that seem inconsequential, each choice builds on another to make a lasting impact on your life. If I choose to eat Chinese food today instead of Mexican food, it may not make a huge impact on my spiritual status, but then again it could. God spends time communicating to each of us about our daily decisions, whether they be small or great and we need to be willing to listen. The latte that you are craving from Starbucks could be of spiritual consequence if God is in it. If you are using your daily routine and activies to minister to those in your local community, you could be purchasing your latte on the very day that the barista is looking for an answer from God. What if we prayed for every choice that we made in life even if it seemed insane?

I have a friend who plants and grows a garden. I asked her how she got such fresh vegetables when her planting grounds are not that great. She said that she prays and God leads her on how to water those vegetables and how to grow them. I begin to think about this and how it sounds so crazy in todays day and age. If God walked in the Garden of Eden and spoke to Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, how much more can we as spirit filled Christians benefit from the guiding hand of God?

Today, make a choice for excellence. Refuse to settle for the status quo and reach forward into realms that you have never been in. If you play an instrument, don’t settle on “making a joyful noise for the Lord” and think that it doesn’t matter how you sound on your instrument. That scripture is referring to giving the Lord a shout of triumph in your life and serving the Lord with gladness. When it comes to playing and singing for the Lord, follow Psalm 33:3 (NKJV) “Sing to Him a new song;Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” It is amazing to me how many churches that I have visited in my life that lack joy, skill, and a new song. This is scriptural proof that we need to be relevant to our culture. While there is great blessing in the hymns of old, God desires a new song and a fresh anointing to inspire his people. Practice your instrument if you play one, hone your ministerial skills (whatever they may be), and most of all, put a smile on your face.

While I am living on the road I refuse to become stagnant, but have decided to take my calling and burden for Cleveland across the USA to every church and town we visit. If God desires to build a 21st century revival church in Cleveland through us, he can certainly use us at other churches to bring that spirit as well.

Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
KJV

The Calm After the Storm

This is a quick blog to just check in. We are in New Hampshire now having officially started and finished one state of our deputation. Maine was a gorgeous state. God performed many miracles for us and I think that my initial distaste of camping has finally calmed down to some degree. It seems that our truck and our 5th wheel are finally in working order. Nobody told us that RV’s were so fickle. Everyone we talk to now that we have one is telling us about all the maintenance that they require. I guess this is like our spiritual lives. We come to God excited about what he is doing and eager to jump in and be involved but over time,we lose our first love. Everything becomes an obligation. Be sure to do your routine maintenance checks. You definitely don’t want to feel about God the way I feel about travel trailers =) I am enjoying my time in the North East, but I am definitely a mid-west girl. Everything seems much more expensive here. I just wanted to drop a line in case anyone is actually reading this blog. At some point when I’m not sleep deprived and in a rush to get on the road I’ll write something good and relevant. For now, you get my random flows of thought.
Love ya!

Camping is not for me.

Hello. I just wanted to check in and let all who read my blog know that I am alive. We have had an insane first couple of weeks of deputation. We have discovered that anyone who cashes in their 401K at retirement to live in an RV needs psychological help =) God has moved in a powerful way in all of the church services that we have been to and so far, we have received a partner in mission financial sponser for our church plant in Cleveland at every service. The insane thing has been just meeting our basic needs. Upon leaving Marietta, we noticed that our electiricty kept going off, our battery kept draining, and nothing would stay on. We thought surely this can’t be normal. We took it where we bought it and they checked the battery and said it was fine. Well, we lived for 4 days with no electricity or battery power in our BRAND NEW 5th wheel. The whole point in buying new was so that we wouldn’t have these problems. My lowest point was spending the night in a wal-mart parking lot. We were getting little to no sleep and just literally fighting to get dressed as all of our water was cold. We went and bought an RV 101 book and found out our converter blew. Of course we discovered this on July 4 and nothing was open until Monday, July 6. We are in Bangor, Maine right now and found a place to fix our converter yesterday! Praise God for that. Also, the Maine district restored our faith in people when a couple of local pastors offered to get us a hotel from Saturday- Tuesday so we wouldn’t be cave men anymore.

We had to pay to fix our converter and are now fighting with the warranty people to cover it. Why in the world would you want to spend your retirement tinkering with an RV when you can live in a house? Also, all these people that sleep in tents for weeks…………what are they thinking? I have discovered that I am a spoiled 21st century girl that WILL NOT be happy without electricity and hot water. Thankfully, I can acknowledge my materialism=) I don’t feel bad because I know that 99% of Americans feel the same.

On the bright side of things, since our 5th wheel couldn’t get fixed, we were able to spend the day on Monday in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine. People from all over the world were there to see this stunning work of nature. Wow! It was gorgeous. From what I’ve read Acadia National Park is the 2nd most visited National Park. Reese had a blast catching bugs and putting his feet in the cold sea. Another postive thing, we are making great strides with the “big boy” potty finally. Reese has what he calls “twinkling” down pat. He is keeping himself dry. Just pray that he gets over his fear of the “other” thing on the potty so we won’t be elbow deep in it anymore.

I also found out that the state of Maine has only 1.9 million people in it. It has 40 UPC churches. Cleveland, Ohio has 3 million people and only 6 UPC churches spread throughout the metro area. We have a lot of work to do. Keep us in your prayers and the other churches in Cleveland that a spirit of revial will sweep the area.

Fuel: A necessary Evil

We are currently deputizing in our 5th wheel attached to our Ford F-350 Quad Cab Dually truck. Filling up at the gas station is a complete nightmere. Disel fuel in New York, where we currently are, is$5.09 a gallon and climbing. Because we are driving such a huge contraption, on the interstate we are averaging between 11 and 12.2MPG’s. I have attempted to strategize a plan to avoid filling stations all together, but obviously that is not possible. We are doing all of the techniques that we read about in R-V living 101. We don’t go over 60 mph, we don’t idle, and we don’t gun the engine. Today we are headed into Long Island in New york for a service and not only do we have the pleasure of $5.09 and higher disel, but we are facing the obstacles of $40 roundtrip tolls.

The point of this blog is not to complain, but to discuss fuel. As much as we hate fuel and filling up, our lives would be miserable without it. We would be stranded and we would not be able to experience life to the fullest. Many of us go about our spititual lives in this manner. We avoid witnessing, we avoid daily devotions, and we drag ourselves to church with no attempt to glean any spiritual fuel. Just like the engines on our car, we sputter and buck with no fuel and we eventually die off. The bible says that we need the Sincere Milk of the Word that we may grow thereby. We can fill our spitual tanks with christian music and church attendance, but that is no substitute for the Study of the Word of God. Just a continual cultural pentecostal diet will not help us to achieve the full power of our spiritual engines. If I put unleaded fuel into my disel tank, it would not run.

Don’t try to avoid the spiritual pump! Fill your tank with the word of God.

Spiritual Orajel

I currently have a 6 month, 3 week old son named Gentry. He is teething and you can see the bottom two middle teeth trying to make their ascent from the lower gums to be thrust up for all the world to see. It has been an interesting several weeks as he screams and writhes in pain periodically and bites down on everything he can get his hands on. The only thing that has me maintaining my sanity is Orajel. This is a numbing liquid to be put on the baby’s gums that allows them momentary relief for what ails them. This process is fascinating to me because I always heard that teething was a painful and fussy experience. My oldest son Reese, however, took teeting with stride and while he had some brief boughts of sorrow with it, he really didn’t experience the gut wrenching pain that would cause him to scream out.

This whole situation got me to thinking about our spiritual lives. Some of us seem to reach blessings and mountain top experiences rather easy. We all have our baggage and burdens to bear, but for some people it just seems more easy than for others. Some of us experience momentary discomfort and then seemlessly walk into the favor of the Lord. Others of us are told to give up all we have and experience lives with one trial after the next. As my son Reese showed me, we definitely all go through something, just not the same way. Reese was a rather easy going baby. He slept through the night at 2 months old and like I mentioned previously, teethed with little fanfar. Reese now is a rambuctious wild 3 year old and we are dealing with an iron clad strong will. On the other hand, Gentry has a sweet, pleasant personality, but has many other issues to deal with. He still has never slept though the night and he is screaming constantly with his teething. It makes me think that maybe he’ll be a pleasant toddler.

While we don’t all face the same trials in life, it is known that we all have our junk. Don’t compare yourself with others. Just because they don’t have your problem doesn’t mean they don’t have a problem. The person struggling to pay their monthly bills has problems just like the wealthy man down the street. Just remember that when life brings its trials, suffering, and pain to put a dab of the balm of Gilead on your spiritual gums. God can numb the pain and bring optimism through trial.

John 14:16-18
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. KJV

A New Chapter in Life

This week has been a very monumental one for me. I officially closed a chapter of 30 years of Bentley family ministry at New Life Church in Marietta, Ohio. My father pastored for 25 years there and my husband and I took over after his death and were here until our final service June 22, 2008. On Monday we moved all of our stuff to North Olmsted (Cleveland), Ohio to put in storage for our 12-18 months of nomadic missionary life before we achieve the ultimate calling that God has for us, to plant our church in Cleveland, Ohio.
We officially closed out the sale of our first home today and said goodbye to any really important material possessions we had. My husband is very proud saying that we have proven that possessions don’t possess us. We willingly gave up a beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bath brick home for a 32 ft. 5th wheel. I guess I’m proud too, although I don’t ever want to prove that point again! Maybe next time God will just believe us and not require us to sell all we have again. The purpose of this blog is to share portions of my goodbye speech to New Life Church Marietta, Ohio with you. It ought to give you a glimpse of my heart. I was told on Sunday to quit crying because it wasn’t a funeral and we would still be in touch with everyone. I realize it is not a funeral, but a new chapter in not only our lives but the lives of my church family. It is still okay to cry though!
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The word family is mentioned 123 times in the KJV version of the bible. This doesn’t include references that just use the words parent, father, mother, sister, brother, husband or wife. As I began to think about this service today, I couldn’t help but try to contemplate : What is the definition of family?
The Department of Sociology of Ball State University states that defining exactly what one means by “the family” can be difficult. While no single legal definition of the family exists, policymakers at both the state and federal level generally classify individuals as family members if they are related to each other by virtue of blood, marriage, or adoption. Relationships that are not based on one or more of these criteria usually do not receive state recognition or sanction.

This topic came to my head because New Life church in Marietta, Ohio is not just a brick structure on Seventh Street, but is a cornerstone in my life. It is the place where the fertile soil of my mind and my heart was developed. New Life Church is the place where I sat at the feet of the anointed teaching and preaching of my father Victor Bentley and then my husband Jonathan Buckland. New Life is the place where I received the gift of the holy ghost and was baptized in Jesus Name in 1987 during a revival that we had with Richard Herd. New Life is the place where Sunday School teachers poured of their time, patience, energy and finances into my life. New Life is the place where I found the greatest friendships and relationships of my life that still continue to this day and that I pray continue even following my departure from Marietta, Ohio. New Life church is the place where I found my family. While blood relatives do exist in my family, New Life equally spoke into my life and was precious to me and responsible for who I am today.
We are all the children of god sitting in God’s church experiencing his goodness together. Biblically, we are family. Family is an institution that through thick and thin, good or bad, joy or struggle, stays together, prays together, and rejoices together.

Galatians Chapter 4
4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

I’m sure that my memory will live on in infamy in New Life. From the time that as a small child I knocked the sound board off the table onto the floor creating a large crash, to the times that I yelled “don’t hurt me” as my mother took me out of the sanctuary when I was being disruptive, to the times that as a small child I drug everyone else’s small children by their arms through the church. Justin Morgan and Jim Schwendeman were the main ones scared by my early motherly instincts. My strong will and resolve may have been a source of laughs and contentions when I was younger at New Life, but I feel that they have served me well into adulthood.

I can only pray that these are not the only memories that you will cherish about me. I can only hope that in some small way I was able to speak into your life and encourage you to grow, do better, stand, and pray. I can only hope that in some measure my ministry of music lifted a burden in your life as I pledged to not just sing and play but to be a conduit of the spirit of God in this Sanctuary.

Whether you liked me and respected me as your pastors wife or not, I spent many hours in prayer for you, fasted numerous meals (although you can’t tell by my physique), took countless tums because the burden of your situation weighed on me, and always vowed to have a positive, optimistic attitude, complete with full smile regardless of the circumstances of my situation. Many of you were counseled by me and I hope that I had a positive impact on your struggle.

My prayer for New Life is that it will grow, flourish, experience revival, and develop a spirit of unity that will bring the anointing oil to this Body of Christ. Get out of your comfort zone, outside of this church, and dive head first into the great commission of seeking and saving that which is lost. If we can focus outside of ourselves and see the world as God sees it, we will be forever changed.

Please stay in touch with us and pray for us as we Endeavour to broaden the ministry of New Life Church into the metropolitan area of Cleveland and around the world. The direct impact of your Sunday School ministry, your youth ministry, your heart of giving and sacrifice will be felt hundreds of miles away.

Thank you for allowing us to transition into the ultimate will of God for this church and for our lives. Thank you for electing a phenomenal man of God whom I greatly respect, David Ward, as the next pastor. I know that the legacy that my family has left in Marietta, Ohio will only continue to grow as God begins the season of the fulfillment of prophecy into this church.

We have sold our first home, gotten rid of a lot of our possessions, moved at our own expense, and will be spending our own money on our deputational travels. Churches will try to help us with love offereings while we are on the road to cover gas and expenses. We will not be receiving any financial support from the UPC to start our church until we are done with our 12-18 months on the road and have raised our full budget. What we are about to do is not glamorous and from a secular viewpoint, makes no sense, but when God calls, we need to answer. I challenge each of you to do the same.

Matthew chapter 6
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also

The Measure of a Man

A Tribute to Dad: Happy Father’s Day 2008

The Rev. Victor Alan Bentley was born August 26, 1952 and was sent home on August 24, 2004. In between those dates the most important event of his life occurred when he was born again and became an integral member of First Apostolic in Toledo, Ohio under the pastoral authority of Brother Kinzie. I’m sure that at a young age he began to truly understand what it meant to be a father as he experienced the agape love that can only be found at the feet of our heavenly father.

Today as we celebrate Fathers all over the world, we can’t help but think of the fathers that are absent from the lives of their children by choice. The fathers who are only known by a monthly check of child support that may or may not be present in the mailboxes of their children’s homes. I stand grateful today that while my father Victor Bentley was taken away from me when I was only 24 before he could meet his grandchildren, I was able to experience Victor Bentley as a Godly example, intellectual giant, spiritual mentor, wise counselor, and most of all wide lap to sit on.

The unique and interesting thing that few people realize is that I found out I was expecting my first child, Reese, on the day of my father’s funeral. This bittersweet news solidified to me that the love of my heavenly father endures. The passing of the baton of life occurred and the memory of Victor Bentley lives on in the sense of humor, strong will, and obvious mental prowess of my children, especially Reese.

Many of you were impacted and touched by the anointed ministry, down to earth nature, and love for people that my father showed while a saint at First Apostolic, staff member at several Ohio District Churches, evangelist, and then long distance friend and Ohio district pastor. When I think about what it means to be a father, I can’t help but think of the financial provider, close friend, prayer partner, pastor, and mentor that my father Victor Bentley was to me.

It was on Father’s Day 2004 that I sat in my parent’s living room for the last time to see my father sitting in his chair with a pile of books by his side. It was on this day that he began his decent into the coma that ultimately claimed his life. Little did I know that this was the last Fathers Day for me to share with him a card of love, adoration, appreciation, and encouragement. I didn’t know that was the last Fathers Day that I would buy him a gift.

Life is short and precious. Please let your father know daily how much that he means to you and take time out of the business of life to appreciate the sacrifices that he has made for you.
Victor A. Bentley was the embodiment of what it means to hold both the title of Father and Friend.

I am looking forward to sitting on a couch in the living room of heaven one day to discuss the questions of life, ponder the length of eternity, and to worship God with him for all of time.

Romans Chapter 8
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

JPM’s

I have a cousin, Nathan Trzcinski, who is an accomplished musician. He and his former band have had all kinds of official meetings with top record industry producers in Nashville, Tennessee. He said that he learned several things in his foray into Contemporary Christian Music. When in this industry, you have to have a minimum number of JPM’s for the song to be labeled accurately as Christan. I asked him what JPM’s were and discovered that they are “Jesus per Minutes”. In an attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the recording industry, they have decided to put limits and labels on music.
It got me to thinking about my own life. Life is arranged into movements just like a symphony. It is ever changing. We can either move with the music of life, or stay at the previous movement and be out of key and out of tempo with the rest of the orchestra. Does the music of my life have enough JPM’s, or am I too immersed in the daily routine to recognize and give “lip service” to the savior. Do I focus too much on a “social” gospel? Do my attempts to be a “good” person over-shadow my praise to Jesus? Do I pray without ceasing and live a life of worship, or am I just a Sunday morning only praiser?
Think about this concept today and be sure to have enough JPM’s for the world to recognize that you are a true christian.

Saturday Morning with Larry Boy

As I sit hear sipping a latte that my wonderful husband made with our starbucks espresso machine, I am listening to the soothing sounds of Larry Boy and the veggie tales on our cd player. Currently I am reflecting on the massive amounts of work we have to do to make our metro missions endeavour successful. Before I dive into a mile long to do list I wanted to create a blog to share my experiences as wife, mother, person, and church planter. Check in later for future insights.