a new study Bible…

CSBMy wife says that I have a problem.  That problem is that I love collecting and reading different Bibles.  She has threatened to hurt me if I buy any more.  While not prone to violence, I think I may believe her!  Just kidding.

Anyway, earlier this year I made the switch to the Christian Standard Bible for my main personal Bible.  I really like the fact that it is a great mixture of accuracy and easy to read.  Falling right in the middle of most of the very literal and easy to read versions.  I even got my daughter the CSB kids version because it’s easy to read to her and I know the truth of the Word is not compromised in anyway.  I highly recommend the CSB to anyone looking for a great modern translation.

A few weeks ago, I saw that CSB has released their new study Bible.  It’s a beautifully done Bible that has very detailed notes and study helps.  Not only that, but the color pictures, maps, and design are awesome.  After looking at the Bible I knew that I needed one, but didn’t want to risk my life.

I happened to be on Facebook and one of those ads where they offer you a deal on something you were googling popped up for the CSB Study Bible.  It was to click here to get a free CSB Bible.  I clicked on the link to a Lifeway page and saw that the deal was for people who work in churches, mainly pastors, to get a copy of a regular CSB reference Bible.  However, there was a link to contact Lifeway if I had any questions.  I figured what could it hurt to send a note to Lifeway so I clicked the message link.  There I informed Lifeway that I am in Full Time ministry with FCA and was wondering if I could get a free promotional copy of the CSB Study Bible.  I figured the worst they could tell me is no, so what did I have to lose?  Lifeway responded pretty quickly and informed me that they didn’t normally give away promotional copies of the Study Bible, but would be happy to send me one!

Within a week I had my free hardback copy of the the CSB Study Bible!  And I have to tell you that I love it.  The pages are thick, glossy, and high quality.  The amount of work and detail in the notes is awesome and I know that this is going to aid me both in personal study and preparation for Bible studies and speaking opportunities that I may have in the future.  The only negative with this Bible that I may have is just that it is large and heavy.  So while great for personal home and office study, I wouldn’t want to pack it to church and other places very often.  Hopefully they will come out with a more personal size version in the future.  That being said, I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a great study Bible.  And a big thanks to Lifeway for the gift of this amazing study tool for sharing God’s Word!

Advertisements

reasons for Sports Ministry…

Greetings from KY.  I have been absent from this blog for awhile, but I hope to change that with more regular posting.  One of my friends asked me to contribute monthly to a blog that his church does.  The post below is my first blog post for them that I wanted to share with you all.  It gives insight into why I am so passionate about using sports for Christ and hopefully it will encourage you to do the same.  I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your feedback!

SPORT_1Hello, my name is Andy Owens and I serve with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Central and Eastern, KY as an Area Representative.  Even before, I went on full time staff with FCA God really gave me a passion for Sports Ministry, where you use sports and recreation as a tool to reach others for Christ.  So, for the past 17 years in some form I have been working full time in sports ministry.  For at least my first few blog posts I would love to share with you about how sports and recreation can intersect with your faith and family.  How these things don’t have to become idols or distractions in your life and walk with Christ but powerful tools.

Most of you will probably agree we live in a culture where sports, athletes, and coaches are very often idolized.  Our kids, and even adults, look up to these figures in sports like they are heroes.   As a result, Christians tend to fall into two categories when it comes to sports and athletics.

The first is that you really can’t tell that much difference between them and the rest of the world.  Even though they claim Christ as king of their life, participating in athletics or having their children in athletics is truly their main priority.  It affects the jobs they take, their moods, how they treat their family and friends, their church attendance and much more.  When it comes down to it, they do have a god in their life, but it is the idol of sports.

The second category that Christians tend to fall in to is that of separation.  They see the danger of letting sports and athletics become a god or at the very least a high priority and so they choose to stay away and not participate.  These people see sports and athletics as worldly and something that should be abstained from.

I would like to suggest to you that the proper way to view sports and athletics is in the middle of these two views.  One of the things I love about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is our vision statement which says, “To see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches.”  Both categories I mentioned above will agree that sports have a high place of value in our culture.  So rather than letting it rule our lives or staying totally away from it, let’s use it as FCA does, to impact our world for Christ.

In a sport crazed culture, those who participate are given a platform where there are people looking up to them as an example.  Billy Graham once said that in a year a coach will have the opportunity to impact more people for Christ than the average Christian will in their entire lifetime.  That is an opportunity to share Christ that we can’t waste on a poor testimony or choosing to stay away from.  For the athlete, former NBA star Charles Barkley once said that people shouldn’t look up to him and that he wasn’t a “Role Model.”  The problem with that statement is that in sports you don’t have a choice.  You have a platform and therefore you are a role model!  This is another platform that we as Christians must seek to take advantage of for Christ.

When you walk in any sports arena you see people of different ages, races, religions, and all kinds of other diversities.  As you look at these people it become abundantly clear that sports cross all kinds of social and economic barriers.  So, why as people that have been given the command to “go into the world and make disciples,” wouldn’t we use sports as a tool to obey the command that God has given us!

So, maybe you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you agree with me, but you are just not that into sports.   How does this apply to you?  Well, I would point out that as Christ-followers each of us has been given different gifts that give us each different platforms of influence in our world.  Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  Whatever plat form you have been given, use it to let your light shine before others and point them to Christ.  If you are an artist, use your art to point them to Christ.  If you are a musician, use your music to point them to Christ.  If you are a talker who has been given the gift of gab, use those social skills to point others to Christ.  If you are a coach or athlete, or just love sports, use the tool of sports and athletics to point others to Christ!

In our sinful sports crazed world, we must use the gift of athletics to reach the lost for Christ

getting the itch…

biblestudyEvery so often I get the itch to start looking at getting a new Bible.  My wife says I have a bad habit of collecting them.  Currently I am mainly using a personal size ESV Study Bible that I love.  The problem is that it is TruTone and starting to show lots of wear and has me worried about it’s ability to hold up.  I would love to find something a bit easier to carry and with a quality leather cover that will last me a long time.  I am really interested in either staying with ESV or possibly trying a new CSB that comes out in March.  Does anyone have any suggestions that they use?

encouragement from my daughter…

img_4924

My sweet Maeven on our “Date!”

If you have been following this blog or just know me in general you know that this has been a crazy year for me and my family.  After much prayer we felt God leading us from a ministry where we had spent the past 11 years into full time ministry with FCA.  That led to not only changing ministries, but selling our house, buying a new house and moving, having to go back out on deputation to raise quite a bit more financial support and countless other changes to our family life.  Then once things were finally starting to feel a bit more settled, my wife Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy.

Through all these changes and events I have had to do more thinking and praying than I ever thought possible.  I have truly seen where I really have no control over anything and God has control over everything.  I have seen things that look like huge mistakes turn out to be God’s way of providing for future needs.  It’s been a true time of faith development in my life.

Even though I have seen my faith grow and my dependence on God grow over these past few months there have been times I have definitely struggled with depression and even wondering if have made the right choices.  As the uncertainty of financial support has weighed on me and just the stress of learning a new ministry and making new contacts there have been those times where I have questioned whether or not I should have done the easy thing and stay where I knew what I had to do and knew the finances would be enough.  These particular doubts changed for me last Thursday as I took a cute little 6 year old out on a date.

Last Thursday my son Judah had to go to the eye doctor and so my wife asked me to take our daughter Maeven out on a little date.  It was funny, because Maeven was so excited she got all dressed up for me and even put on a little “makeup” (chapstick lip balm) for the date.  So while Mommy and Judah were at the eye doctor, Maeven and I went to Dunkin Donuts for our breakfast date of frozen hot chocolate and peppermint donuts.  Maeven made sure we got the big comfy leather seats where we could talk comfortably as we munched on our goodies.

I started out asking her how her school year was going and about her new friends that she had made, and of course about what she wanted for Christmas.  Maeven then surprised me and asked me why we had moved to Richmond this year.   I told her that Mom and Dad knew God wanted us to work with FCA and Richmond was where He wanted us to do that.  I then asked her if she was happy with our move or not?

One thing you need to know about my daughter is that when asked a question, she is very high truth and tells you exactly what she is thinking.  With no thought at all, Maeven said, “Yes!”  I then asked her why she was so happy with our move.  Once again without having time to think Maeven said to me, “because you are home more Daddy and I get to spend lots of time with you!”

Right away I told her that I loved that too and did my best to fight back the urge to tear up hearing those words from my sweet girl.  All those worries about whether or not I had made the right decision to transition ministries and move my family really melted away.  While I am so thankful for all the years of ministry I had previously had there was so much time that I was away from my family.  And I always justified it by saying that the ministry was important and that my kids were too little to notice.  However, as Maeven’s moment of truth had shown me, they had noticed.  They knew there dad wasn’t around as much as they would like me to be and I knew that I had missed a lot.

Within my new ministry role, I know there will be lots of ups and downs, lots of stresses and pressures, and lots of time that I am out from my family.  At the same time it does afford me much more time to spend with my family and be there when they need me to be.  Whether that be taking care of my wife as she recovers from here battle with breast cancer or just having that needed quality time with my kids I am truly thankful for all that God has brought us through this year and all that is to come.  I am so thankful that He can use a sweet 6 year old girl to bring encouragement and joy too!

reflecting on another year…

On Friday, I “celebrated” my 36th birthday.  For a year that has had so many big life changes and still seems to be in flux the big day came and went with little to no excitement.

I am thankful though for all that God has done in this past year.  From giving my wife and I a clear vision to join staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, to actually having the courage to move forward and leave the ministry we have been with for the past 11 years and that I grew up in.  Since then it’s been a year of faith and trusting God to take care of our family through the selling of our old house and buying of a new one, moving to a new city, and once again raising support.  Then this fall came the biggest and most unexpected event, when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through it all God has been faithful.  He has truly kept His word in Hebrews 13:5 where He promises that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.  I don’t know what this next year is going to bring, but hopefully it won’t be quite as eventful.  No matter what I know God is in control.  Maybe #37 will be a bday that is a little more exciting and not weighed down by life.

cutting the cord…

cable-tv-alternatives-ways-watch-free-tv-movies-online-streaming-lower-bill-save_0With our move to Richmond and ministry transitions, our family has made lots of changes over the past couple of months.  One of those changes is the way that we watch television. For the past several years we had lived so rurally that we were unable to pick up even basic network channels via antenna in our house.  Until a year ago we were unable to get high speed internet in order to stream television as well.  So with these limitations we at different times used both of the two major satellite companies.  However, with our move to Richmond, we had something that we have never had before…options.

When we moved to Richmond, we decided to cut the cords and disconnect from satellite and cable tv.  This was partly because we live of a support based income with the ministry we are in and are in the middle of raising all our needed support.  With our total support still unknown we are cutting areas of our budget that can go out.  Also, now living in Richmond we are able to actually get antenna signal and great high speed internet!

So, now we are unplugged and just streaming shows we like and watching our basic network channels.  To be honest I haven’t really missed the satellite channels all that much and find myself watching less television.  This may also be due to being super busy right now working on our support, but also I don’t have that temptation waiting on me.  We are also saving a good chunk of money in our budget which is really nice.  The only time I am going to really miss it is when my Wildcats play on ESPN or the SEC network!

another bookshelf to fill…

empty shelfWith the start of 2016 it’s time to fill another bookshelf with books that I read this year.  I am excited to jump back into reading and have a couple of books I am starting off with.  The first one I am going to read is “Do Over” by Jon Acuff.  I am also going to get back to my fiction roots with a western by Louis L’Amour.  Anyways, I hope to do a better job reading this year and also doing some book reports on here.  Here’s to more reading in 2016!