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.

Musings about mind, body, and spirit

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