Boston in the Fall

This year will be our first fall together with changing leaves. Massachusetts is an amazing place this time of year. Blaire and I finally found time to go to downtown Boston and see part of the incredible history of our country. We walked down the Liberty Trail; “a 2.5 mile path through downtown Boston, that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States.” We got to visit businesses and homes that have been standing for hundreds of years. We feel blessed to live so close to a city with that much history, and we’re thankful for such a great experience. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place to study God’s word than Gordon-Conwell… But then you step outside and have to blame Adam and Eve because the temperature could not have been this cold in the Garden of Eden.

We haven’t had a Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, at my parents house, in four years. Blaire and I have been living and serving in sunny Mexico (thanks to the generosity and love of our entire support family.) During our time across the border we were privileged to spend the holidays with the fantastic Peviani crew, which includes the loving company of the Davis’, Bisant’s, McGuirks, Hillier’s, Holly’s, and so many more deeply kind families! I have missed having a holiday surrounded by childhood memories, but these past few years God has blessed me with a new selfless and caring family. After our delicious turkey dinner in PA my family took out some old home movies (on VHS) of when we were growing up and causing trouble. As we sat in the same house we saw in the old videos, we laughed and we cried. I am so thankful for all the incredible memories we’ve shared as a family and it felt significant to be able to share them with Blaire for the first time. It seems cliché but I was honored to be thankful on Thanksgiving. Thankful for love, support, Blaire, my family, my friends, and for where God has guided us. Thank you to everyone who has helped us make this possible, and know that we’re praying for you.

Favorite quotes right now…

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”  ― Timothy J. Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

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The Bible is Filled with Real People like Us

In my Old Testament class we have been talking about the people God chooses. I wanted to share a little bit about the story of Abraham because it brings up an important question; Why Abraham? Why does it seem like God chooses to bless some people and punish others? And what about us; how can we gain the favor of God? You’ve probably heard the story of Abraham before. “God calls a man named Abraham. God then promises Abraham that, against all odds, his family will out number the stars.” What you might not know is that Abraham was not chosen by God because of his righteous life. In fact, Abraham was a sinner like anyone else. In Gen 12:1-4 the bible says “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country… So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” It is his “faith alone” that Paul talks about in Rom 3:2-3 saying “For if Abraham was justified by works, he would have something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” The bible isn’t filled with super heroes; Abraham was a liar, Moses was a murderer, and David was an adulterer; the bible is filled with believers like us.

It was so comforting for me to learn that even seminary is filled with imperfect people like me. I’m starting to think that might actually be the point. God could never love us anymore than He already does. He doesn’t want us to try to earn our redemption; He wants Jesus to be glorified when people see the free gift of His love. Lastly, my Old Testament Professor pointed out that the “Pastor” is not the modern day fulfillment of the Old Testament priest. With Jesus as our high priest every member of the church is called to be a part of the priesthood of all believers. (1 Pet 2:4-5)

(One of the trails Blaire gets to jog everyday!)

Favorite quotes right now…

I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation.
And I will put my trust in you alone
Oh Lord and I will not be shaken

Housefires – Build My Life (Song)

 

It’s a rare occurrence, like a double rainbow, or someone on the internet saying, “You know what? You’ve convinced me I was wrong.”

– Michael (The Good Place; TV Show)

 

What EXACTLY are the Colangelo’s Doing?

You might be asking yourself… What are Blaire and Chris doing in Boston again? When does Stranger Things Season 2 come to Netflix? (Oct. 27th!) And what do the Colangelo’s even do every day? First of all, those are some great questions. Sometimes I forget to communicate what we’re ACTUALLY doing. So, I’m not at all offended by your tone.

I’m taking 3 classes this semester in pursuit of the Master of Arts in Theology degree (or MATH yes, a math degree). As I’ve said in my last few updates, I’ll be studying at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, located on the North Shore of Boston. While I’m attending Seminary Blaire will be working as a nanny. She has an amazing opportunity to love and serve 3 pretty awesome kids, along with their dog, and 2 small cats they shaved to look like lions… like I said, 3 pretty awesome kids!

I got a great part time job working in the mailroom. My first class is Old Testament Survey. Monday mornings we go chronologically through the Old Testament story. On Wednesday I go to my second class; Systematic Theology. This one might be a little bit harder to describe. So far, we’ve gone over such questions as; Does God have a physical body? Is God a man? And how does our individual background affect what we believe about God? My third and final class this semester is Evangelical Theology and World Religions. In this class, we’ll actually be reading books like the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita. Attempting to put ourselves in the shoes of people with different beliefs. I have been loving seminary so far. A big reason for this is because of the community we’ve found in our building. It may be a building full of future pastors but one of the most amazing things I’ve learned so far is that the “Pastor” is not the new version of the Old Testament preist. Every single believer is part of the royal priesthood and together we make up a holy nation. “On earth as it is in heaven.”

Favorite quotes right now… (From each class)

“In Deuteronomy 28:13 God says to Israel if you obey “I will make you the head, and not the tail.” But when Jesus comes, he fulfills what it means to be a blessing. In Matthew 5-7 I believe He is saying blessed is the tail.” – Dr. Kaminski

“Nobody thinks their beliefs are ridiculous. You will never convert someone by trying to convince them that they are.” – Dr. John Davis

 “Christian faith asks questions, seeks understanding, both because God is always greater than our ideas of God, and because the public world that faith inhabits confronts it with challenges and contradictions that cannot be ignored.” – Daniel L. Migliore

“I’m Shipping Up To Boston”

Grand Canyon Together

I fell into the habit of tracking the miles of every trip we take. In a way, measuring the experience against the ones we’ve had before it. The hipster would say it’s the miles you put on your soul that really count. Then they’d get back to taking black and white pictures of coffee. We did feel this though. We felt it when we looked out at the Grand Canyon for the first time. We felt it when we stayed with family we haven’t seen in a long time.

The View

In a lot of ways our trip from California to Boston was the end of a journey better counted in years then miles. Of course it’s the beginning of an all new adventure but we’re not there yet. I think tracking my miles has caused me to jump from experience to experience without reflection. I’ve been forgetting to stop every once and awhile to see the view. Ferris Bueller would be so disappointed. I lived in Mexico for over 4 years. I made an eternal commitment to my best friend there. We’ve grown and changed in so many ways. I wonder of the 19 year old kid I was when I left would even recognize me. I wonder if he’d be proud. I think he would. I know he wouldn’t believe that Blaire is actually my wife!

Lobsta!

From Mexico to Massachusetts with all our worldly possessions stuffed in a 4×8 trailer. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks to Blaire’s parents, Alan and Patti, we we’re able to thrive in this transition. I can’t thank them enough! I’m also proud to report my “backflip in every state” has extended to 35, with only my left knee being completely destroyed! Please pray for it 🙂

Backflip State #34

Favorite quotes right now…

“A river without banks is a large puddle.” – Mike Dunlap & Ken Blanchard

“Sometimes the teacher is silent during the test.” – Church sign in Jenners, PA

 

 

California Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment. In a way it’s God’s secret to a happy life, right? It probably sounds a little ironic, but how are we supposed to grow to be content? How do we learn from the past, live in the present, and prepare for the future? Blaire and I celebrated our two year anniversary this month. Which got me thinking about a teaching I heard a couple days earlier from Ecclesiastes 3:9-15. Solomon asks a question we all need the answer to. “What gain has the worker from his toil?” At the end of his life, the wisest man in the bible says in the next verse “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man.” But before Solomon reveals the point of it all, he talks about God’s perfect timing. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Now I don’t personally believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe He can restore absolutely anything that happens. And when He does, it can feel like even the bad stuff was part of His master plan. However, sometimes before God steps in, life can feel like you’re just wading where the waves break. We can’t see His perfect timing. We can’t know what’s coming next. Verse 11 goes on to say “He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Our hearts yearn to know, but we can’t. We can only have faith.

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I had no idea God would lead me to the most beautiful redemption when I felt like I was drowning the most in my life. Eating dinner that night I was overcome with contentment. I thought about how easy it is to doubt God. How easily I can get wrapped up in the things I think I need. It’s no wonder Solomon ends the passage with this ultimate truth; “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.”

 

Favorite quotes right now…

You need a four hour praise dance performed every morn – I’m feeling shortness of breath, so Nico grab you a horn
Hit Jericho with a buzzer beater to end a quarter – Watch brick and mortar fall like dripping water, ugh!
I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him till I’m gone!

– Chance The Rapper

Magnify, magnify, lift it on high – Spit it Spotify to qualify a spot on His side
I cannot modify or ratify – My momma made me apple pies
Lullabies and alibis – The book don’t end with Malachi

– Also Chance The Rapper

 

The Road Ahead

Looking back! Blaire and I come to the end of a season with great memories to look back on and new adventures to look forward to. We’ve spent over four years living in Mexico. I am reminded of the man I was when I first showed up. I was single, beardless, and searching for God’s purpose for my life. Four years can change a lot. I’m proud to say my seventeenth beard hair came in last week! Even more importantly, I successfully convinced the highest quality woman on planet earth, to marry me. I can still remember pretending I let her win when she smoked me at ping pong. Little did I know, God would speak His plan for me through this woman. We talked long distance on the phone while I worked as a camp counselor in Pennsylvania. One night she told me about an amazing opportunity to partner our bible school experience with a seminary in Boston. Throughout this time Blaire and I would pray for my brother Eric. It’s interesting to look back on how all the pieces fit together. We’re leaving for Boston and now He’s leaving for outreach but before then we were able build my last house in Mexico together. 

Looking up and out! We’ve learned that things look up when we do. God will always be faithful. He has continually surrounded us with such loving friends and family. Only with the prayer and support of our partners have we been able to work with so many ministries. Together we were able to help build around 35 homes for the poor with the Homes of Hope ministry. We have seen 30 students from 9 different countries graduate from the School of Biblical Studies. We have been able to teach the bible in churches all across Mexico with the Titus Project ministry. In just four years we’ve been able to serve in worship, the preschool, with the youth, the local prisons and hospitals, and we’ve had so many other humbling opportunities. We cannot say thank you enough for every single person praying for us and partnering with us. It has drastically changed our lives and we hope that we were able to change lives in Mexico as well.

Looking forward! We have never been so excited to take the next step in ministry! We feel God calling us to train for something big. I have been selected to partner and grow at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. We have a vision to impact the local and global community with God’s word. Our time of getting equipt at Gordon-Conwell will prepare us for the most exciting opportunities to work and serve. We’ll need the prayer and support of so many but really we want to thank everyone for showing us God’s faithfulness every step of the way!

 

Favorite quotes right now…

And now you’re my whole life; Now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you, girl
We’ll look back someday, at this moment that we’re in
And I’ll look at you and say
And I thought I loved you then; And I thought I loved you then

– Brad Paisley

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8b

Faith Over Fatalism: Our December in the Mountains!

This year has been transformational to say the least. We’ve seen a lot more of the world and learned a lot more about ourselves. We wanted to share this story as an example of how we’ve seen God transform a community. This is pastor Martín…

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He is the head pastor for the indigenous mountain villages we traveled to. He teaches the truth of God in 3 churches each with about 35 adults and 5 million adorable kids:)

Here are just a few…

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He’s never been to bible college or received any kind of formal training. Over the course of 2 weeks we covered the whole story of the Bible! As we taught he listened closely and filled a little green notebook with the truth of God’s word. We found out that he was preparing his sermons for the following year based on the new truth we were teaching from the bible. Wow! These truths have the power to change every life in his community!

The predominant worldview of in this area is Fatalism.”Que Sera, Sera” (Whatever will happen, is going to happen). Mixed with a bit of Karma (If it happened, you deserved it)! Now think about if you were poor living in this place with this mindset… You would be taught that not only do you deserve to suffer because of your wickedness but also there is absolutely nothing you can do about it because it was meant to be. Can you imagine? How would you be motivated to grow or improve your situation? How could you really believe that God loves and forgives you if you’re still suffering even with all your hard work ?!

We were able to challenge this worldview with the freedom of life in Christ. “You weren’t created to suffer, you were created to have life abundantly!” No matter what our financial situation may be. “When you’re forgiven by Jesus that’s it! No more punishment or shame for your sins. He took it. You’re loved and free to enjoy it!” We trust that God will speak through Pastor Martín and transform their community in the years to come.

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Favorite quotes right now…

“The pain of regret is far worse than the pain of discipline.” – Nathan Whitley & Patti Peviani

“We shouldn’t move forward by running from a bad situation. God calls us to run to what he has for us.” – Kerry Ast

 

Teaching about Freedom in a Mexican Prison

I’m 23 years old. I’m a “gringo.” And I’ve never been to prison to my own country. What could I possibly say about heaven to a group of men who’ve gone through hell? That’s all I could think as we were being escorted along the wall through locked gate after locked gate.

View from the Outside

As we walked I noticed something interesting. Birds. They flew over the high razor-wire and settled in the small trees that grew in the courtyard. I thought it was kind of ironic. But I kept walking. We walked down halls and through fences until we finally got to the location where I was teaching. I shuffled to quickly set up my material before the last worship song. After a quick look at my notes I lifted my head. They chose to come hear me?

I could see so much in their faces. So many things I wouldn’t understand. Yet here I was speaking to them.

I realized I had absolutely nothing to offer these men. I couldn’t make them any promises. I didn’t have any money, food, or influence. I looked desperately down at my notes, closed my eyes, and asked God for help. I heard the men singing the chorus of last worship song “Creo en ti Jesús… (I believe in you Jesus), Y lo que aras en mí… (And what you will do in me), Recibe toda la gloria… (Receive all the glory), Toda la honra… (All of the honor), Precioso hijo de Dios… (Precious Son of God).” I was right. They didn’t need me.

For the next hour we went over the history of Israel from Exodus to Exile. God frees his people from 400 years of slavery only to see them deny him time and time again. In His mercy he sends prophets to call them back. He warns them for the next 860 years! Until inevitably they’re exiled from the land he’s given them.

Why do we fight for the freedom to choose our own prisons? Whether our filters are on cigarettes or Instagram, we let the wrong things control us. When the bible says “Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” It’s not just talking about a perspective, but a person. Jesus says “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

At the end I shook hands with a man named Carlos. He told me that his oldest son was about my age. He pauses and looked at me with pain in his eyes. He shared that all 3 of his children grew up while he was in prison. He’s been there more than 20 years now. “Looking at my life it would seem I’ve lost everything” he said. “But I see now this is what it took for God to get through to me. For me to finally listen. And for him to set me free!” He told me personally knowing God made it all worth it.

“I get out next year but I’ve been free a lot longer”… 

Favorite quotes right now…

“The bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” – D.L. Moody

“Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.” – “Which is?”

“It’s not about you.” – The Ancient One (from Doctor Strange!)

Two taxis and a boat

Honored to take two taxis and a boat to get to one of our churches!

 

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10,730 Miles and Counting

We’ve gone 5,970 miles on the ground (that’s 109 hours in the car) and 4,760 miles in the air. We’ve stayed in 14 different housings in 7 different states (and 2 countries)… in just 52 days. Thank you every single person who lifts us up in prayer, support, and friendship! We couldn’t move without you.

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Our time in Pennsylvania was filled with the best friends and family we could’ve ever asked for. We even got to celebrate our 1st year of marriage in a beautiful place away from home but home together!

   Montana was unbelievable! The TWO DAY van ride (one way) was… fun, but the amazing relationships and teachings were even better. It was an honor to help represent our base at the North American Hub of Biblical Studies.

Finally our trip to Bend, Oregon! What an amazing place to see both a friend’s family and a friend who feels like family.  If we learned anything from our near 11,000 miles on the road this summer it’s that relationship is the main point! It’s what God wants FROM us and it’s what he wants FOR us.

14117682_10154306369605638_5322733539260388208_nIMG_0102Favorite quotes right now…

“You can’t go on explaining away forever: If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.” – C.S. Lewis

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:9-10

Another Year Closer to Death

This year my birthday was particularly… growing. A couple people asked me if I felt any older and I think for the first time in my life I really do. Married at 22 with an apartment in Mexico and an income made up entirely of support. This undoubtedly grows my faith but as my faith grows my responsibility grows with it.

How do I provide for my family? How do I glorify God in everything? How do I live?

Blaire and I were teaching in Ensenada, Mexico on my birthday. We didn’t have very much money but we still felt God wanted us to celebrate. So we went and even agreed to pay for my friend who has the same birthday as I do. As we walked to the car I looked at the ground and saw something buried in the dirt. I bent down and picked up a dusty 500 peso bill (about 30$). At that moment I felt like God was speaking to me. He reminded me that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance of things unseen” Heb 1:1. It’s about trust. He also reminded me that He was our provider, even if He had to pull it out of the dust! The money covered every expense we had to the penny! HE IS GOOD!

So here’s the way I see this christian life thing.

The older I get the more responsibility God gives me. But it’s a responsibility to trust Him. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Prov 3:5. To be obedient to His sovereign voice no matter what. So we learn to die to ourselves, and Christ lives in us. John says “He must increase but I must decrease.” John 3:30. Even as Paul is chained in a jail cell he says that “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil 1:21. We die to ourselves and have eternal life in Christ. This, in my opinion, is our only hope of true peace. Jesus knew the world would reject him and those that followed after him. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. This is the good news of the gospel, and the only hope we have.

…And this is us praying over the city of Ensenada and camping with friends!