Wednesday, May 29, 2013


We are in Haiti and the internet is spotty and thus I'm going to keep it short but here are five very cool ways the Faith Mission is being lived out and YOU'RE APART OF in Haiti!!

- Seniors who just graduated... Having just gone through our "Rite of Passage" and "Senior Sunday", multiple graduates have given up their week and flown to the poorest nation in the western hemisphere and are now fully engaged in service to the King!!

- John Crater & Susan Mackey (The "patriarchs" of our trip)...  They have been a huge blessing to so many on the trip and in the village!!  Both are proof that your witness and mission are never over, until Jesus returns!!

- Jacob (This is the Berg's sponsored kiddo, Read More Here)... He is someone who's name is said almost nightly in the Berg home at prayers and I know some day the kids will get to meet him in person!!  *Below is a picture from the feeding program we get to pay for so he can eat once a day in Neply!!

- New Beginnings' first international Marriage & Family Conference... This week we are hosting a conference to teach the Biblical view of Marriage and Family here in Neply (Folks from all over, some walking miles, came to be apart of several hours of conversation on Family Ministry!!

- And if those weren't cool enough: Families serving together (The Colley's are all four here serving side-by-side-by-side-by-side)!!  From Gabbi letting girls in the village play with "blan" hair, Victoria hugging every special needs kid, to David & Dana showing couples what mutual respect in marriage can look like, Family ministry is happening at New Beginnings AND AROUND THE WORLD!!

This is the mission of Jesus... This is the Faith Mission!!  Our prayer is that everyone at New Beginnings would:
  1. Get a passport & save up $1,000, so you're ready when God calls
  2. Begin looking for opportunities to engage the Faith Mission right now
  3. Pray about going with us to Haiti in November or next summer!! 
I hope you consider coming to Haiti this November (there are 5 spots still available)... Sign-up by e-mailing Matt Fowler immediately (

Thank you for giving freely and sacrificially so the Gospel of Christ can be shared and Family ministry can be taken to the ends of the Earth!!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Seven months later...

Yesterday was the final day of a seven month long experiment that I alluded to several months back (See that post here)!!  My wife brought the idea to my attention over a year ago after getting a new book: "Seven: An experimental mutiny against excess" by Jen Hatmaker*.  Several months later she talked me into going on the journey with her.  The experiment was fairly simple in concept but as we found out very difficult in execution and even harder in meeting the goals.  Let me show you were we landed each month and then, at the end, give you a couple thoughts we learned in the process...

(Above is a few samples of the meals we prepared during the month)
We started strong with our first month being 'Food'... we selected 'Seven' food items we were going to eat ONLY for the rest of the month (30 days).  Court landed on: Chicken, Eggs (yeah, chicken & eggs apparently are two different items) Broccoli, Carrots, Black Beans, Whole Wheat Bread & Apples.  Mine was essentially the same but I swapped Beans & Carrots for Bell Peppers & Potatoes.  We also were aloud small amounts of salt, pepper & olive oil.  Having fasted for extended periods of time I thought this was going to be pretty easy, being allowed to actually have food but you'd be surprised how fast the same food can get in a month.

Month 2: Clothes**
(Above is our entire wardrobe for the month)
Month two brought a whole new perspective on what is necessary in my closet... Clothes.  Courtney & I both selected seven items of clothing to wear ONLY for the next 30 days (we took one exception for a wedding... Hey, it was a rented tux)!!  This was only difficult, for me, on laundry nights... It was cold while waiting for stuff to dry.  Picking items you could work, play and have a nice dinner in was far more difficult than I thought but we made it (we are blessed, some don't have choices).  We literally didn't open our closets the entire month.

Month 3: Possessions 
(Above is one of the boxes of items we took to the BOC)
At this point in the year it was December and I will tell you right off the top... Finding seven items to give away each DAY for a month, during the season of giving was AMAZING!!!  Our family took this month on as a entire unit giving away over 1,000 items.  I don't tell you that in pride but in embarrassment... We were able to give away a ton of clothes, toys, tools, etc. yet STILL have a house that is full.  We were/are blessed with some much "stuff" but our blessings controlled us and we didn't even notice it happened.  All that changes when we start giving your stuff away and seeing how it impacts others.

Month 4: Media
(Above is the screen shot I took of my phone since I deleted all the apps for the month)
This month might have been one of the most eye opening months.  Though I'm aware I'm involved in social media more than the average bear, it was crazy to see how much ALL of our lives have changed in just 10 years!!  Facebook now has accounts designated to over a sixth of the world (over half of anyone with internet capability)... But that wasn't hard, giving up facebook, twitter, etc. for the month, in fact, that was very refreshing.  I had decided I wanted to see if I could go without my cellphone for the month.  It was essentially impossible! From work, to my kids school, to just every day conversations that we have, I realized quickly how much we "need" this new invention that we've really only had in our lives the last ten years.  

Month 5: Spending
(Above is a picture of a very cool app we use called: "Budget Envelopes")
In this month we were allowed to only spend our money in seven locations.  For us: NBC (Tithe), Bills (online), Wal-Mart (Groceries & Other items), QuickTrip (Gas), Jacob (our My Life Speaks sponsored child), Karate/Gymnastics (Kids Activities) & YMCA (Courtney's sanity).  We also decided to buckle down and since we already had a 'zero budget' to really focus on spending this month and see what the max we could save if we need to.  It was refreshing to know what we "have to have" and what we are just so blessed in having, like the YMCA.

 Month 6: Waste
(Above is the screen shot I took of my phone since I deleted all the apps for the month)
In this month we focused on the different aspects of waste management.  For us: Gardening (want to read/see more about our garden, click here), Composting, Conserving energy/water, recycling, driving only one car, shopping thrift (if you have to) and buying local as much as possible.  This month was one of our favorites.  From a little more time together to feeling really good about making the most of what God has already given us each day in creation, such a huge blessing!  

 Month 7: Stress
(Above is the screen shot from my phone of the alarms I have had set all month)
In the final month we focused on honoring the Sabbath and making sacred yet again.  If I could recommend any month more than another, it's this one!  During the last 30 days we committed to reading the Word daily, pray seven times a day for specific purposes at specific times (no matter what we were doing) & clearing our schedules one day a week to just "be" (which is REALLY hard).  Until this month I thought I prayed pretty consistently through my day on a daily basis.  Now I know we really must be intentional to really pray without ceasing.

Though I told you a couple of big take aways in each of the months descriptions let me tell you the two biggest things I learned in the entire process (though God is still revealing things to my heart).

1) Wide and Narrow (Matthew 7:13-14)... I am NOT saying that this is the way to become a Christian nor am I saying this is the "narrow" way.  But what I saw and experienced during the experiment was a dramatic difference in commitment and even a brushing off on the idea of taking on a challenge like this.  Many started the journey with us and many scoffed at the idea but very few finished.  Though many had great reasons for bowing out (health, timing, etc.) or not starting (not feeling led, knowing they wouldn't finish if started, etc.) it was still a great example of the greater Gospel... Few find it, few believe it, few allow it to take over our lives and become 100% Jesus!!

2) The Spirit of the Law (Matthew 5:19-20)... It was amazing how quickly I became Pharisaical!!  Yes, sinful!!  My heart, mind and even spirit it seemed to so easily say: "look at what you're doing compared to others" or "you have done so much, you deserve a break".  The Gospel is NOT about judging others (God has that part taken care of) or even comparing ourselves to others.  The Gospel is NOT ever being good enough, we're not and won't be, that's why it's AMAZING Grace.  I so quickly found myself confident in my praying seven times a day but skipping my reading of His Word and calling that fair (though I committed to both).

My prayer for today's post is simple... Will you pray for my wicked heart?  Will you join me in believing the Gospel so much that all we can be is the Gospel to everyone else around us?  Will you be encouraged today to jump in and be 100% Jesus... You're not good enough but He is!!!
We must BE-lieve (Faith Walk) if we want to see our kids (Faith Talk), their friends and our community (Faith Missioncompletely transformed into the Kingdom of Heaven... That's the plan (Faith Map)!! 

*No... You do not need to read the book to do an experiment, I didn't.  However, my wife tells me the stories are hilarious and provided some much need encouragement during the process!!
**Click on the word and go to Courtney's blog to read more about those months specific.