Nov 27, 2013

Your Life is a Result of What You Do...

I got this list from Dave's blog, who got it from here....

1.70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day.
2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.
4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.
5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.
6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.
7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.
8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.
9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.
11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.
12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.
13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.
14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.
15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.
16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.
19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.
20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.
21. 23% of wealthy gamble vs. 52% of poor people gamble.

What are you thoughts?

Nov 16, 2013

A Little More on God Behind Bars

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am now the God Behind Bars campus leader for Goose Creek Correctional Center. Its something that came out of no where, but I am very excited about what God is going to do through our Friday night services.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am looking for volunteers. You can read all the details here...

We just had our fourth service on Friday night. We had 40 inmates in attendance for our first service. Our second service had about 140 inmates packed into the gym where we hold service. For our third and fourth service, we had between 70 to 80 inmates.

We are not exactly sure why we had the drop after the second week. We do know there's several services a week being offered, so perhaps the "churched" inmates are not looking for another service. Which is perfect, because our target audience is the "unchurched" inmates, meaning those who are not involved in any services right now. The men who are attending are loving the worship music and the preaching and we believe a core group of men are being built up.

So, your question at this point may be "What is the impact of this program?" Well, I'm glad you asked. God Behind Bars has been in the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River for about 13 months. Hiland Mountain is a women's facility, housing about 400 inmates. Approximately half of the ladies attend the God Behind Bars service.

Phil Reese, the Alaska director for God Behind Bars has just produced an excellent video highlighting the impact God Behind Bars is having:

God Behind Bars // Alaska from LR on Vimeo.

Nov 4, 2013

A Cry For Help!

But wait, this isn't about begging for money. Well, I'll still take donations for workbooks for my next Financial Peace University (you can see how to give here...) but this is about needing YOU.
So here's the deal. I've been doing my Financial Peace class at Goose Creek Correctional Center since July, and that's going great. Four weeks ago I started my second class of it, and at the same time launched the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere, which teaches how to deal with forgiveness & bitterness. This isn't where I need the help (unless you really feel a call to get involved with either class.)
Earlier this year I attended a God Behind Bars service at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and was blown away. It's a video service, utilizing the video feed from Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The inmates put up a high quality audio/video setup and present a high energy, high impact service that the inmates connect with. At the same time, inmate's families can watch the exact same service at .
After that service I told Phil, the Alaskan director for GBB, that if they ever got the program into Goose Creek I'd love to help in some way. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago... Arctic Slope Regional Corp had donated over $30,000 to purchase the equipment and Goose Creek and the administration at Goose Creek had set aside the gym and provided Correctional Officers for a Friday night service. After my Financial Peace class, I head over to the gym where the inmate volunteers are getting ready to set the equipment up for the first time. Phil is there and so is Jake Bodine, the founder of God Behind Bars. And so is Scott Thompson, the Faith Wing chaplain who up until now has been charge of GBB at Goose Creek.
I get into the gym and Scott looks at me and says: "Hey, I've got another commitment on Friday nights, so you are in charge of the GBB service. Phil will be here to help for a few weeks, and then it's all you."
Wow... Okay. So now I'm the campus leader for God Behind Bars at Goose Creek. In our first service we had 40 inmates. Not bad for the first service with very little advertising. And then this last week, in our second service, we had not 40 inmates, but 140 inmates. We more than tripled in one week.
That's where you come in. I need you. I need volunteers for the Friday night service. You don't have to sing, you don't have to preach, you just have to be there. You greet the guys, you participate in the service, you pray with them.
I'd like to have enough volunteers to have several different teams so you wouldn't have to go out every week, unless you wanted to go out every week. I'm lookin' for individuals, men's groups, small groups, bibles studies and prayer groups. For everyone's safety, it needs to be men or married couples. But, if you are single lady and want to get in on the fun, there's the GBB service for the ladies at Hiland.
Time is of the essence. The services have already started and I expect them to keep growing. The gym only holds about 250 guys and the prison is already talking about maybe having to do a couple of services to meet the demand. To be a religious volunteer for DOC you need to fill out an application with a pastoral reference and attend an orientation class. There is an orientation class coming up here in the Valley on November 12th. You can see the details on the class here...
So this is me. On my knees, begging. I'm not asking you to make a lifetime commitment. Give me every other week for the next three months. Or something. Anything. You won't regret it.
Maybe you can talk to your Pastor, or the Men's Ministry leader at your church. If they've got questions, I'll do what I can to answer them. I can be reached via email at

Here's my perspective on prison ministry. Regardless of what these guys did get into prison, the truth is that 94% them will eventually be released. 66% percent of them will be back in jail within two years. But, if they are part of faith based activities that drops to 33%. We can help give these guys a second chance at life. And not just them, but their families, their communities. 38% of the inmate population in our state is made up of Alaska Natives from almost every village. Wanna impact every community in Alaska without having to get on a plane? Just make a 40 minute drive down the road. Give it a shot. Let's see what God can do...

Oct 28, 2013

Seven Months Ago....

It's amazing how fast things can change... Seven months ago I was a washed up former minister with no real direction or purpose. Okay, I'm being a little dramatic...  But I wasn't feeling to great about things. Well, it wasn't all bad. I have an amazing wife, a great family and a good job working with and for some good people.

And yet I knew there was more to life than what I was living. God creates us with a purpose. He puts giftings and callings inside of us that He wants to see us use to reach hurting and lost people with a message of hope.
So there I was, seven months ago in a meeting when Jim Duncan,the Chaplaincy Coordinator for Alaska made a call for volunteers to minister to the inmates at the newly opened Goose Creek Correctional Center. I had never been drawn to prison ministry before but sometimes in life you gotta try something new to know if it's your thing. Stepping out of your comfort zone is sometime the only way to step into all that you were meant to be.

In July I started my first Financial Peace University class at GCCC with 14 guys graduating. It was made possible by many of you who generously gave to buy workbooks for the inmates. After my first class graduated on October 4th, I started a new class on October 11th with 23 guys. I had enough finances leftover from your giving for the first class that I didn't need to beg for more money for the second class. (However, I'll launch my third class in just about 9 weeks. If you'd like to give towards that, you can get the details on how to do that here....)

In addition to kicking off another round of FPU, I also launched a class using the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere. The 19 inmates in this class are learning how to get free of the bitterness & unforgiveness that comes from being offended. It's an excellent class that I think is going to produce some great results.

As great as all this is; none of this is my big news. In previous posts I've mentioned the God Behind Bars ministry. They use top quality audio & video equipment to show a pre-recorded video service from Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The service is high energy and high impact and the guys seem to instantly connect to the message. But the ministry is more than just a service. They also offer a Celebrate Recovery, which is a biblical based 12 step program and a follow up program for inmates once they are released. Through their Church on the Inside website the inmate's families can also watch the same service at the same time from their homes. The ministry will soon be in over a dozen prisons stretching from Florida to Alaska, including Goose Creek here in the Valley, Highland Mountain in Eagle River, Spring Creek in Seward and in Ketchikan Correctional Center in Southeast Alaska.

And as of this weekend, I am now the Campus Leader for God Behind Bars at Goose Creek. Which essentially means I just became the pastor of a very exclusive church. To get in, you have to be ordered there by a judge...We only had about 50 guys at our first service, but that was with almost no PR to the General Population pods. The feedback we received from the guys was very positive and I'm expecting double the attendance at our next service.

As Campus Leader I'm responsible for coordinating the services and directing the inmate volunteers in their roles. That's the easy part. I'm also responsible for raising a team of at least a dozen volunteers from the outside. That's the scary part. I've never been that good at recruiting volunteers and that was when I was on staff at a local church. Now I'm in a spot with no real connections to a local church to draw from.

So I'm going to do this the same way I raised the money I needed for the workbooks for FPU. I'm going to turn to the power of the interwebs! If you are here in the MatSu Valley and want to get involved in a very rewarding ministry, I've got a place for you!

The services are on Friday nights, at Goose Creek Correctional Center which is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Wasilla. I'm looking to build a big enough team to have people rotate, so you wouldn't have to go out every week. This would also be a great ministry opportunity for a men's bible study, Promise Keeper's group or small group/cell group.

To get your volunteer card from DOC you have to fill out a form, pass a basic background check and attend an orientation class. These volunteer classes are held every month or so, based on demand. As it happens, there's two upcoming classes here in the Valley. One is this Thursday on the 31st in Palmer and the other is November 12th in Wasilla.

The primary roles of the volunteers will be to have a "ministry of presence". Just being out there talking with the guys and being available to pray with them is all we are looking for. Sometimes these guys feel like the world has thrown them in a hole and forgotten about them. And it's easy for them to feel like God has forgotten about them. You being there brings the love of God to them.

So... To sum up a very long post. God is good. I'm in over my head. I need help. Please help. Pretty please. It'll be more fun than puttin' socks on a rooster...

Oct 10, 2013

FPU @ GCCC: The End Means a New Beginning

Last week I wrapped up my first Financial Peace University at Goose Creek Correctional Center. I handed out 14 graduation certificates to the guys. Well, I wasn't able to hand out all 14. One of the guys got released a couple of weeks ago. Even though he missed the last two videos, he still got the heart of the Financial Peace message. So for me it is exciting to think there's already a guy out there who has the knowledge & tools he needs to win with money, and he got that information in prison.

I want to say again a HUGE thank you to all who gave towards buying workbooks for the class. You gave enough that I was able to order my next batch of workbooks for my new class that starts this Friday! The room we use for the class only holds about 20 people, so that is what we limited registration to. And I'm told the sign up sheet for the class filled up immediately.

In order to be a part of this class, guys give up their recreation time to be there. Some of them are giving up their work time to be there. They don't make much in their prison jobs, but it's all they have so for them to give up work hours to do the class means a lot.

As I said, I start my new class on Friday. But that's not all. I'm also doing a 12 week class on the Bait of Satan material from John Bevere. This course talks about dealing with bitterness, forgiveness and dealing with offenses. It's also a full class with 20 guys signed up.

There's three things you can help me in:
  1. Pray for me. I'm still adapting the class for the prison and I want it to be as effective as possible. And doing the Bait of Satan is brand new for me, so I'm a little nervous about that...
  2. If you are able to, and have the desire to, I'm collecting funds for the next class after this one I'm about to start. As long as I'm able to, I'm going to keep doing these classes back to back. The details on how to give are here....
  3. Wanna really get involved? If you live locally and have your Fridays free, come out and be a part. I can use help with the classes. And at the end of the month there'll be a new Friday night service starting that I'm going to help with and we can always use more people. To be involved in prison ministry you have to be able to pass a background check and go through a 2 hour orientation class. It looks like there'll be an orientation class coming up here in the Valley in November. If you are interested, let me know and I'll get you more details.
I really wanted to post a picture of my graduating class, but obviously the policies for Goose Creek do not allow that. So just close your eyes and picture a group of smiling guys in yellow prison jumpsuits holding their graduation certificates with big smiles on their faces...

Oh, I almost forgot! If you are looking to take the class yourself and don't want to go to prison to do it, Jonathan Hall will be holding one at King's Chapel here in Wasilla. You can see more info here....  If you live outside the Valley and want information on a class in your area, visit

Sep 28, 2013

FPU @ GCCC is in the home stretch!

I just have one week left in my first run at coordinating Financial Peace University at Goose Creek Correctional Center. It looks like I will have 14 guys graduating this time. In my last post I mentioned that one gentleman told me he just wasn't connecting with what was being taught. He's been incarcerated for twenty years and in that time hasn't written a check, or paid a bill, or even had actual cash in his hand.
But last week's lesson was on giving and living a life of generosity.  And really, that's the point behind Financial Peace. By being a good steward of what God has giving us, it puts in a position to be a blessing to others. This week that same guy told me he now he gets it. He feels like he's connecting to the material. Stories like that make the sacrifice worth it!
So I'll wrap this class up on October 4th, and on October 11th I'll start my next class. I was hoping for a good turnout.... And today I found out that all twenty available slots are full!! And thanks to your previous generosity, I've got the cash on hand to buy the $420 worth of workbooks I'll need for these guys.
But I'm already thinking ahead to the class after this next one. So in future updates, I'm gonna be doing some begging. And I will do it unashamedly because I believe in the potential for this class to reduce the recidivism rate here in Alaska. 94% of inmates today will be released at some point and within 2-3  years 66% of them will be back in prison. For the inmates involved in the Faith Wing program, that number drops to a 33% recidivism rate. Our statewide chaplaincy coordinator, Reverend Jim Duncan wants to see that number drop to under 25% before the end of the  year. And my goal is a 0% recidivism rate for the guys that complete the Financial Peace class.
I believe this is possible. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. But I know this is bigger than me, so I want give you the opportunity to be be a part. If you'd like to give, you can see your options for doing so here at this post.
 In addition to starting my new FPU class on the 11th, I will also be starting a class using the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere. The class will equip the students to deal with offenses, bitterness and unforgiveness. I wasn't sure how this class would be received... Participation in these classes are completely volunteer, and the inmates give up their recreation time to be in the class. So the question was "would anyone be willing to give up their free time to dig into the crap of their past?" Well, apparently they would be because this class is also full with all 20 slots taken. I was able to order the curriculum and it arrived in the mail today.
I am still in amazement over the doors God has opened for me lately. And I'm humbled by those of you who have put your money towards it. I want you to know that an impact is being made. Thank you to those who passed on encouraging words and who have been praying. More great stuff is ahead! I promise to keep you updated as things go along!

Sep 7, 2013

FPU @ GCCC: Things Are Getting Interesting!

When I posted last week on the progress of the Financial Peace University class at Goose Creek Correctional Center I was pretty pleased with how things are going. This week I'm over the moon!!

The class itself is still going good.The guys are still engaged and enjoying the class. But I did have one of those moments that can break your heart... One of the older inmates shared with me that he's not fully connecting with a lot of the material. He's due to be released in 5 months, but he's spent the last twenty years in jail. It's been two decades since he worked a job, wrote a check or held a dollar bill in his hand. Wow... What do I do with that? I didn't know how to respond, and I just pray that once he gets out there and gets going that God will bring this stuff back to his mind.

But rather than get me down, this encounter has motivated me to keep pushing. I need to be doing all that I can to get these valuable lessons to the inmates. And that's why I'm so excited right now. This current class that I am teaching will wrap up on October 4th and I'll be presenting the men with graduation certificates. And then if all goes as planned, instead of loading up and heading home I will stick around and be a part of the inaugural service of God Behind Bars at Goose Creek.

God Behind Bars uses top notch audio & video equipment to present a high-energy, high-impact prerecorded church service in prison. And at the same time the men are in the service in jail, their families on the outside can watch the exact same service online. In addition, they also offer a Celebrate Recovery program and an aftercare program for the inmates once they are released. I've attended the God Behind Bars service at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and was blown away by the power of what God was doing among the inmates.

With the God Behind Bars service being on Friday night, I can be a part of it without having burn up fuel on the 54 mile round trip out to the prison. I'm really excited about the impact God Behind Bars will have on the men. So that is on October 4th. The next week on October 11th, I will start my next class of Financial Peace University with a new group of 20 to 25 guys. And the great thing is, I've got all the money I need for the workbooks for that class!!! You guys responded with such generosity to my earlier call!! But, if you want to give towards my next class, the information you need to do that is at this link....

But that is not all that will happen on October 11th... My Financial Peace class is from 2pm to 4pm, but before that from 1pm to 2pm I'm going to be teaching a class using the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere. This class will deal with the issue of offense which is often the most difficult obstacle an individual must face and overcome. Jesus said, "It is impossible that no offenses should come" (Luke 17:1). You cannot choose whether or not you will be offended, but you can choose how you will respond. This message will empower the men to stay free from offense and enable them to have an unhindered relationship with God.

In this class the men will learn how to:
  • Become stronger instead of bitter
  • Tear down the wall between them and God
  • Break free from aggravation, frustration, and irritation
  • Expose the root of wrong thinking and behavior
  • Discover submission and obedience to God
  • Embrace forgiveness and reconciliation
 So between the new Financial Peace class, the Bait of Satan class and the God Behind Bars ministry, my Fridays are about to blow up! So if you could, keep me in your prayers. And if you'd like to give, use the link above. And if you are local, there's one more way you could maybe get involved... This Tuesday, September 10th at 6:30pm there will be a prison ministry orientation class. The class will be held at Wasilla Assembly of God at 125 W. Riley Ave. If you'd like to come out and be a part of prison ministry, this class will be your first step down a very rewarding road.

God bless & thank you all for everything!!!

Sep 1, 2013

FPU @ GCCC Update

I'm way overdue for giving you an update on Financial Peace University at Goose Creek Correctional Center.

Good things are happening! I had one gentlemen tell me on Friday that being in the class is the highlight of his week. Another gentleman said he is amazed at how many things he's learned in the class and he believes it's stuff he'll be able to use when he gets out.

I've also had two different inmates on Friday who told me they wanted to be in the class this time around, but couldn't. They were worried that the class was just being offered one time. I assured them that class would offered again, and they'd get their chance to be a part. Apparently the class has a good reputation among the inmates.

This week I will be participating in a meeting with the chaplains and other teachers involved in the Faith Wing to discuss upcoming classes and curriculum. Each man in the Faith Wing is in prison because of bad choices they made. But in teaching this class, I see the light bulbs going off in the minds. They are grabbing the biblical principles that God gave for managing money. It's principles that will be an important component to their future success.

So far we've covered the basics budgeting, the importance of saving for emergencies, the dangers of debt, getting out of debt, dealing with collectors, understanding your credit score, and how our own unique personality style affects how we deal with money. Coming up we'll cover insurance, investing, real estate, jobs & careers and the final lesson, The Great Misunderstanding.

Again, I want to thank all of you that have supported me in this effort. I absolutely could not have done this without you. Each week, each inmate in the class take time to thank me for coming out there. In fact, I often have inmates who are not in the class come in and and thank me for coming out. But it's not just me they are saying thank you to. It's also to you.

One of the views I get to enjoy on the drive out to Goose Creek Correctional Center

Aug 3, 2013

What have I gotten myself into? (And an update...)

Sometimes things can change in the blink of an eye...

There's a story in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20 of a time in Israel's history when the city Samaria was under siege and the food supply for the city had been cut off. Food was so scarce and expensive that people had resorted to eating donkey's heads, bird poop & cannibalism. (Which is probably still better for you than McDonalds...)

I'll let you read the whole story for yourself, but at the word of the Lord in a mere 24 hours everything changed and food was plentiful. That's the God I serve. In the blink of an eye everything can change!

And now I'm in a spot where a few months ago the idea of doing Financial Peace University in a correctional facility was just a wistful dream and a vague hope. And then the door opened to do the class out at the new Goose Creek Correctional Center, but I didn't have the money to fund the class. But after putting a call out to you, the reader, I had enough come in to cover this class and part of my next class.

And now this week I've been asked to do a second class at Goose Creek. Oh, and I've also been asked to do a class at the Alaska Dream Center, a local rehabilitation center. And I've also been asked to the do the class at the transitional home in Anchorage operated by Alaska Correctional Ministries. And then the chaplain at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward (which is about 160 miles away) wants me to do the class... And I have a full time job.

So four weeks ago all I had was one simple class at Goose Creek that I was able to re-arrange my work schedule for (and thanks to my incredible employers for being so understanding...). And now this week I'm trying to figure out how to be 6 different places during the week. And figure out how to pay for all of it... But it's a good problem to have. If forces me to rely on God.

And don't worry... this blog post isn't another call for money.... but if you feel inclined to give, you can see your options on how to do that here in this post. I would solicit your prayers though. And if you are local and want to get involved in a really exciting, fun ministry there's plenty of room for more volunteers.

So here's the update on my current group at GCCC: This was the third week and we talked about the nuts and bolts of budgeting. These guys seem more engaged in the class than most of the other classes I've done. They are eating it up. And this week I handed out the workbooks that you guys helped to buy. The men wanted to me to pass on their gratitude. I've asked them to write down their thoughts on the class for me to share with you. I'll have some of those next week to share with you.

For now though, I have to find a cloning machine and a pile of cash...

Jul 29, 2013

Why I Got Invovled In Prison Ministry

If you had told me 4 months ago that I would be involved in Prison Ministry, I would you have told you that you are a french fry short of a happy meal. Sure, I grew up in church and I had often heard Matthew 28:35-40:

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

So yeah... We are suppose to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, blah... blah... blah. So we throw a few buck in the offering for the missionary or the outreach or whatever and then we feel better about ourselves and move on with our lives. Rarely in the American church are we mobilized to action.

And then Prison Ministry carries an additional point of resistance.... Usually if you are in jail, you are there for a reason. Anyone can have a crisis and wind up poor or hungry. Sometimes life happens to you. But going to jail means you were bad. You broke the rules. You messed up, you got caught and now you are serving out your punishment.... So why should you get a special dose of ministry?

Here's the conclusion I've come to in the last few days. Regardless of what got someone in prison, it happened in the past. You can't change it. All you can do is move forward from here. Studies show that approximately 94% of all inmates are eventually released. So most people incarcerated today will be getting out at some point. The very sad thing is the 66% (that is 2 out of 3) of those released will wind up back in prison within three years. That tells me despite the great men & women working in the system, the system is broken. A 33% success rate is a complete failure.

If you want different results, you  have to do things differently. If we want to stop the destructive cycle, we have to do all we can to equip these men & women with the tools they need to succeed. That includes counseling, teaching job skills, helping with substance abuse and it must include teaching in basic personal finances.

Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University has been taught across the nation for over 20 years with millions of families participating. I've been coordination Financial Peace classes in Wasilla for over 5 years, leading over a dozen classes and over 250 people being a part. Financial Peace University is a proven, effective tool in teaching people to handle money the way God intended.

I was reading Romans 10:14-15 the other day, which says:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?

That word "sent" could also be interpreted as "sent on a specific mission." That means not just saying I'm going to the grocery store, but saying I'm going to the store to get eggs, milk & cheese. So I have a clear mission that I am being sent on. When these inmates are released, they face the challenge of finding housing, transportation and employment. Many of them will have old debts to deal with and restitution for their crimes. My mission is to make sure they face these obstacles with the knowledge of what it is going to take to be successful.

If you'd like to help me with this, you can read the details here...

Jul 27, 2013

Prison Update!

Last week I gave a call for help in being able to facilitate Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University out at the new Goose Creek Correction Center. (Read my post here for all the details...)

I was amazed at the response. Within 26 hours I had the money I needed to purchase the 21 workbooks I needed for the class. Today when I reported back to the guys in the class the outpouring of support, they were deeply touched by people's willingness to invest in their growth. Being incarcerated can feel like the world has thrown you in hole and forgotten about you.

I've seen in these men a determination to change the course of the lives. In the two class sessions  I've held, the men have been fully engaged. They are not just there filling their time.

So thank you to all who gave. Enough came in to cover this class, and I have about half of what I will need to cover my next class. There's 128 men in the Faith Wing. I plan on doing a class of 25 men every 12 weeks, which means it'll take me over a year to process through everyone. And by then there'll be a new batch of inmates.

I also have been asked to conduct a class for a local rehabilitation center. The class will be for those about to graduate out of the program, equipping them to win with money as they make a new start in life.

So if you wanted to help me in this, there's still plenty of opportunity. And I now have some more options for you to give:
  • The cleanest, easiest way for me is for you to directly give me or mail me cash or a check. No tax deductible receipt can be given, and 100% of your gift will go towards the program.
  • The second best way is for you to give via Paypal at this link and use as the receiving address. Paypal charges me a 3% transaction fee.
  • If you would like to give as a tax deductible item, you can now give your gift through the Alaska Ministry Network and they can pass it on to me. Checks can be mailed to Alaska Ministry Network, 1048 W. International Airport Road, Suite 101, Anchorage AK 99518. Just mark your donation as being for "FPU in Wasilla." 100% of your gift will go towards the program.
  • And finally, if you want to give online and receive a tax deduction, you can give online at the Alaska Ministry Network's website and mark your gift for "FPU in Wasilla".  I will be charged a 3% processing fee on these gifts.
I am very grateful to the leadership of the Alaska Ministry Network in their willingness to partner with me. The Alaska Ministry Network represents over 80 Assembly of God churches across Alaska and has been ministering in our great state since 1917.

This Sunday, the 28th, I've been asked to give a report to the people of Christian Fellowship of Wasilla. And on Wednesday, August 14th I will be giving a report to Wasilla Assembly of God in their Wednesday night service. I'm looking forward to these chances to share the great things God is doing in our Alaska prisons.

Thank you again for those who have given and for those who have been praying for us. I can not express how grateful I am. You are a blessing! Stay tuned and I will continue to report on the progress of the program. I know that God is going to do incredible things through this! I'm believing for a day when Financial Peace University is taught in every prison in Alaska and every inmate who has served their time and is released goes back into the world equipped with an understanding of what God says about money.

Jul 22, 2013

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

In my last post I put out a call for help with buying the necessary workbooks for the Financial Peace University class I am coordinating out at the new Goose Creek Correctional Center. I had 21 eager men that were looking to be equipped with the personal finance skills they would need to make it on the outside once they are released.

I have been overwhelmed by the response I got. Within 26 hours I had raised $640 from 8 donors, meaning I exceed my goal by $200. I will be forever grateful to those who have given so generously. I will be able to order the materials I need and these men who are trying to make something better of themselves will have the tools they need. (For some reason Ray Bolt's "Thank You for Giving to the Lord" is going through my head...)

But this doesn't end here... It looks like every 12 weeks I will have another group of 20 to 25 men taking the class. And I just committed to coordinating a class at a local rehabilitation center for a dozen or so men.

So I'm going to need to figure out a steady stream of support. But in the meantime, the door will be open if you'd like to partner with me with a financial gift. If you'd like to be a part, please use this Paypal link and input my email:

Oh, and some other exciting news... A major, established ministry organization is considering letting me affiliate with them. That means that if it all works out, in the future donations can be made through them, giving the donors the option of receiving a receipt for a tax deductible contribution. I'll release all the details from that when it happens.

So this weekend was pretty amazing. I never thought I'd have a heart for prison ministry. But I spent Friday afternoon with a group of guys who were willing to do whatever it takes to live their lives differently. Then I spent Friday night at Highland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River in the God Behind Bars service watching 150 of the 300 inmates in the General Population worshiping God with great passion. I am excited to see where all of this goes....

Again, thank you to those who have given. I will come back to give regular reports of how it is going. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. And if you are local and ever want to go along or get involved we can make that happen.

God bless!

Jul 20, 2013

I need your help...

****Click here to see the report from my cry for help***

 Normally with my posts I try to include lots of pictures that I have taken.... This time I had to find pictures online because the place I want to talk about doesn't allow pictures to be taken on the inside. I want to talk about Goose Creek Correctional Center. It's Alaska's newest prison, built just last year. It was constructed to house 1,500 inmates that were being held out of state in a private prison.
Having a new facility with this many men presented a challenge to the Chaplaincy department. Rev. Jim Duncan, the Chaplaincy coordinator was suddenly faced with having to meet spiritual needs of a small town with no additional funding or personnel. And since beggars can not be choosers, Jim took me up on my offer to present Financial Peace University from Dave Ramsey as a class for the men.
I'm teaching the class as part of the Faith Wing program. The Faith Wing is a dedicated 128 bed pod or wing of the prison. To be a part of the Faith Wing, the inmates agree to abide by a stricter set of rules and participate in additional classes.
My first of twelve weeks of class was on Friday, July 19th. I had 21 men that have chosen to acquire the tools and information that they will need to win with money on the outside. 94% of all inmates are eventually released and statistics tell us that 50% to 70% of those will eventually wind up back in jail. One factor in a convicts inability to leave a life of crime is a lack of understanding of the basics of personal finances, including budgeting, spending, avoiding debt and saving for the future.
I believe Financial Peace University can have a huge impact in the lives of these 21 men. But I need your help. For the class to have it's biggest impact, I need each inmate to have his own workbook.
The workbook will cost me $19 each, meaning I need $399. And I need it fast. I've got some money I putting towards this, but I can't cover the whole cost.
I've never asked for help like this in the past, but I do it without shame or hesitation. I asked the men if they get any instruction or help in understanding finances before being released and they told me they do not. When their time is up, they are simply released and told to be good boys. They need these classes to equip them for a successful chance of making it on the outside.
If you can help in any way, no matter how small, please click on this link to send money via Paypal. The email address to put in is . Or if you are local,we can arrange to meet. I'm not set up for your contribution to be tax deductible, so your only benefit will be knowing you've done something to help make our world a better place and make a difference in someones life.
Thank you for taking time to read this long post. God bless.

***Update: Click here to see the report of what happened***

Jul 7, 2013

Portage Glacier Cruise

I love glaciers. I'm not too proud to admit that... And I'll jump at any chance to get close to one. So this last weekend we headed to down to Portage Lake to cruise aboard the MV Ptarmigan to the face of Portage Glacier.
The cruise is just an hour long. You can do much longer glacier cruises out of nearby Whittier, but this one much less expensive and fits better into a full day of other activities.
The boat is set up nice with an indoor seating or an outdoor viewing area, bathrooms, and an on-board naturalist from the USFS.

The 15 minute cruise out to the glacier takes you past multiple water falls. Portage Lake is very deep and has steep sides so the boat can maneuver quite close to the edge.
The size and strength of the waterfalls vary based on snow pack and weather. Today they were all flowing pretty strong.

But, we weren't here to see waterfalls... We were here to see a glacier. The Portage Glacier. The big, blue river of ice. The ice crystals in a glacier are composed of super compressed snow. They are so densely packed that they actually filter the other colors in the light spectrum, so they appear to be blue.
We spent a little over 30 minutes at the face of the glacier, just 300 yards away.

Portage Glacier is not the only glacier in Portage Valley. You can hike up to Byron Glacier. Burns Glacier also overlooks Portage Lake, but does not reach it. But the water that melts off the glacier cascades down in a glorious waterfall.

I'm told that the width of the creek at that waterfall is over 40 feet. Which means the height of the fall must be around 100 feet.

Since the cruise was only an hour long we decided to do some Geocaching. The Portage Valley has several well developed trails that take you to some really nice spots.
We found a cache up under a small bridge over a clear, beautiful stream. The next cache was just 500 feet down a side trail that ran between two ponds. We started down that way and got may 100 feet when a gull flew right over our heads, shrieking loudly. It startled us both, but we kept going. And then it buzzed us again, even closer. And then again... And then again. Suddenly we realized it's chicks were in the road just ahead of us and it was trying to run us off. We back pedaled quickly as the bird did one final run over our heads. Once we backed off enough for it to be happy, we stood and watched it for a while. At one point an eagle was flying overhead and the gull went up and was harassing the eagle to run it off.
I managed to get a few seconds of video from one of it's attacks:

Death from Above...

So we were out Geocaching in the Portage Valley... We were on a trail in the brush. We had already passed three large piles of bear scat. And then apparently we got to close to this guy's nest and young chicks...
This video clip is from his fourth attempt to kill us...

Jul 4, 2013

The Full Text of the Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Jun 29, 2013

Another Trip to the Matanuska Glacier

When we stayed at the State Park cabin up at the Matanuska Glacier back in April, it was still more winter than spring or summer. So we decided to give it another shot. This time around we enjoyed some of the best June weather that Alaska has ever seen.
 I don't know of any other location in Alaska that has the view that you get off the front deck of the cabin. This time around it was warm enough for us to eat our dinner out on the deck and take in the magnificent view.
And this time we remembered to grab the camera and were able to get some much better photos of the glacier. All of Alaska is beautiful, but for some reason I find glaciers to be particularly fascinating.

It's not just their immense size and composition of densely packed snowfall... But their ability to grind and carve the land scape they cover. Eons after they are gone, the evidence of their passing still lingers.
As the glaciers grind over the land, they pulverize the rocks into a fine powder, which is carried away in the rivers which flow from the glaciers. This silty water is a luminous gray and cold.
But not all rivers come from glaciers. Mountains with a southern exposure do not build glaciers and their snow packs melt off during the spring and summer, producing pristine, clear water. Granite Creek just north of Sutton is an beautiful example of this, flowing down from the Talkeetna Mountains.
We weren't the only ones out enjoying the almost twenty hours of sunlight on the Summer Solstice weekend. I just barely managed to snap a photo of this classic car as it zoomed down the highway past us.
We couldn't let the opportunity to do some geocaching pass us by. Our favorite one of the day involved the most work. We had to scramble a hundred feet up a very steep embankment. The GPS led us to ground zero, but all we could see was more rocks... But all was not as it seemed. We flipped a few over and came up with what we were seeking.
In our search for another cache we came upon this old bridge. It once spanned the Chickaloon River and allowed coal trains to haul their cargo to market. The Sutton & Chickaloon area was originally sourced by the U.S. Navy as a strategic supply of coal before they converted the fleet to diesel.
The metal roof was not an original part of the structure. It was added at some time to slow the decay of the old bridge.... But I think it was added too late. The massive wood beams were showing their age.
And while the old bridge slowly rots away, Castle Mountain stands as it has for untold generations.
We turned back south and headed for home just before entering the pass at Eureka Summit. I love the high alpine areas in Alaska. Broad Pass south of Cantwell is my favorite, but this area is a close second.
The weather was perfect, the views were perfect and we got to do some geocaching. It doesn't get much better than that...