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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Chain Me Free

How would you define worship? Really, take a second… Would it be a song on Sunday morning or maybe, like me, you know it’s deeper than that but have never really searched it out. The bible says so many things about it and I’ve seen first-hand some of my favorite Christian leaders come to slightly different conclusions. I ask because over the last couple weeks we’ve been blessed with quite a few opportunities to lead worship. So we started to practice. Almost immediately we could feel a microscope on our motives. We wanted to do a good job but is worship a performance?

Leading Worship In Spanish

We were honored to lead worship at a ministry called the Ranch. A drug rehabilitation center for the struggling men of Tijuana. This was one of the most refreshing places to lead worship that we’ve ever seen. In broken Spanish we sang “Señor te exalto” (Lord I exalt you) and the prodigal sons sang as loud as they could. The stress of hitting the right chords melted as I could hardly hear the guitar. You knew they were singing to the awesome God that freed them. To sing in unity with those men was a gift and it reminded me that “streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”

One of the men shared his story with us after the service. This was his 4th time returning home. His eyes were tired and his hands were worn. Why would he do it?! Why would he keep going back to the dark and distorted loneliness of the world? We prayed for him at the end of the night and he only wanted one thing: a fetter. He wanted a chain to bind his wandering heart to the Father.

The Ranch

“O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.”

So what is worship? Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Surrendering exactly who we are and placing Him above ourselves.

Favorite quotes right now…

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2

“Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” – Yogi Tea!

From This Day Forward

From this day forward is a serious thing to say. A commitment like that requires a little more than trust and affection for another person. It requires faith. I’ve never met anyone like Blaire who completely amazes me and amazingly completes me all at the same time. She is hands down my bestfriend, beyond beautiful, and my better judgment but the glue that hold our hearts together is so much stronger than anything this world has to offer. Jesus is the third strand that makes tying the knot effortless and eternal. We got married young and quite literally penniless but because our hope is in Him, the road ahead will always bright and better together.

The road ahead

 Just in case you missed the big day let me just tell you the Peviani’s sure know how to throw a party in style. By God’s grace and the work of my new and amazing in-laws, the wedding was provided for and planned to perfection! Shout out to the maid-of-honor (Brittany McGuirk) for making everything so stunning, the Best man (Tony Colangelo) for an… unforgettable speech, and my family for driving all the way from Pennsylvania!Full wedding photo

The honeymoon was breathtaking! Costa Rican jungle overlooking the ocean! But as usual its the glory of God that triumphs over everything! As divine as Costa Rica was eventually we had to leave. Unfortunately I booked our flights out of San Jose California (not San Jose Costa Rica)…! We had no money or cell phone service! So we prayed and sent an email to Blaire’s mom. She contacted the airline and even prayed with the woman on the phone from the airline (a believer too). I originally payed 250$ for both flights when the flights should have been 1400$ all together. When we all was said and done they changed our flight for nothing but taxes (90$) the total came to 350$ for 1400$ tickets!!! Glory to God!

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