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!

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Forced R & R…

BedrestManThe past week and a half has definitely not gone the way that I had envisioned it would.   I hoped that I would be in the middle of a whirlwind of ministry, traveling to various schools training students and coaches to do FCA, and leading Bible studies.  However, that has not been the case and I have pretty much been confined to my house, the doctors office of the hospital.

For about two weeks I have been having a lot of pain that gradually got worse and worse.  Pain when I sat and pain when I moved.  Friday night a week ago I was in bad enough pain that went to urgent care.  Unfortunately they misdiagnosed and the meds they gave me did nothing to help me.  By Sunday, a week ago today, I was in such bad pain that I had my wife take me to the emergency room where I spent most of the day.  While the ER was not able to totally fix me up they were able to give me pain meds and make it a lot easier for me to deal.  Finally, on Tuesday I met with a surgeon who diagnosed my issue and set up surgery on Wednesday.  It turns out I had a problem called a fistula.  I’ll let you google that and find out what all that means, but I warn you not to look at the pictures.    So Wednesday, I had outpatient surgery which went well, but now I have to go back and meet with the surgeon again, set up a time for a colonoscopy, and make a plan for what comes next.

Since Wednesday evening, I have been at home on bedrest.  The good news is that I am slowly starting to feel a little better and move around some.  While there is still pain, I am in nowhere near the amount of pain that I was in before the surgery.  And hopefully this week I will be able to get out among the living and while not at 100% at least be able to do some things.

The good thing to come out of this is first of all that I have been forced to get some rest.  When you are stuck in bed and on pain meds that make you sleepy, you sleep.  So for the first time in awhile I feel refreshed as far as sleep goes.  The second good thing that has actually been the best thing is once again being forced to rely more on God.  This first came into play with just being in pain and having to pray and pray and pray to be delivered from the pain I was in.  Then more prayer for doctors, surgery, healing and everything going on in my body that I don’t fully understand right now.

I have also been forced to depend on God through all the worry, discouragement, and depression that Satan has been throwing at me.  Worries such as worry about how I am going to pay for all these medical bills and what am I going to do about our family’s financial support for ministry which is not at 100%.  Worries  about important meetings and Bible studies that I am missing while being stuck at home.  In times when I should be encouraged by the awesome friends that God has given me me that have called and texted to check on me, I’ve found Satan trying to discourage me with the fact that I am stuck inside and had no friends visit.  Depressed that I just haven’t been able to be up interacting and enjoying my family.  I don’t list these things to be whiney or to elicit sympathy, but to be honest about lots of the things going on in my mind right now.  And then to also let you know that my God is bigger than all these issues. neverleaveyou He will meet all my medical and financial needs.  He has given me great friends and will give me more.  God will take care of all my meetings and Bible studies.  Whether that being letting them go on without me or rescheduling them.  He will allow me to be a good Dad and Husband to my family.  Instead of letting the stillness and forced time of rest drive me nuts with discouragement from Satan, I have to remind myself that God says I need to be still and know He is is God.  Nothing is to big or small for Him.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.

So please pray for me that I will seek God deeper each day, even when this health issue is over.  Pray that I will get healthy soon and get back to just being able to do and enjoy life without pain.  Pray for the issues that Satan has thrown at me to worry about, that God would meet those needs and I would continue to trust He will do so.  And lastly that even though it’s hard I would enjoy being able to rest!

praying to parent better…

ParentingI’m a Dad and all too often I am reminded by the actions and words of my kiddos that I am still figuring this whole parenting thing out.  I have two wonderful kids.  My six year old girl is a firecracker who is full of life and does everything full speed ahead.  Sometimes this leads to her being overly persistent even after she has been told no to something and losing doesn’t always go over that well with her.  My five year old little boy is as sweet as they come, but he does struggle with some speech and learning/developmental delays.  These issues definitely give him his own struggles and issues to overcome.

Each day, I realize that each of my children have their own issues and struggles and that as unique little individuals I have to respond to them in ways to unique to each child.  My daughter is fiercely independent and my son is not.  She needs more words of affirmation and he needs more quality time.  With my daughter sometimes you have to be louder to get her attention, that same volume though can break my son’s little spirit so he needs a quieter gentler tone of correction.

The problem with dealing with my kids and meeting their individual unique needs is that I am a sinner.  As a Dad I don’t always respond the way I should.  I let my own issues, fatigue, and life in general all too often color the way I parent.  Too often my responses have more to do with me than that of what my child is doing or needs.  This is an issue that God has definitely been dealing with me about one the past few months and it has led me to a simple prayer that I pray daily, if not several times a day.  I pray and ask  God to allow me and my wife to be the type of parents that point our kids to Christ in all that we do and say, and that we show His love to them in all that we do and say.

This prayer convicting to me, because it points out the times that day I have failed to do what I’m asking.  Also, it comes to my mind when I am in the middle of some form of parenting my children and helps me slow down and think about the love, kindness, discipline, and guidance that I may be about to give.  I know I am a fallen sinner, but I want to seek my God so that my kids see Christ in me and want a deeper relationship with Him.  I never want to be the parent that breaks his kids down and drives them away from Christ.

I am praying to be a parent who is reflecting Christ well and ask that you pray for me in this area to!

struggling…but God is faithful

anxietyThe past few weeks have been an exercise in truly trusting in God when I say that I am trusting in Him.  You would think after the past year I would totally rely on God’s promises to take care of me and my family.  I have seen Him provide for us as we sold our old home, moved to a new area, started a new ministry, helped my wife overcome breast cancer, provide the finances to cover all here medical expenses and so on.  It has truly been a year of one example of God’s faithfulness after another.  Yet, I sit here now knowing that Satan has been attacking me full force and making me worry and be anxious about God’s provision.

With the ministry that I work for, my family has to raise our own support to cover all our bills, living expenses, and ministry costs.  So, a big part of what I do is schedule meetings with churches, organizations, and individuals.  Currently, we are at about 82% of our needed support level and so I have been scheduling as many meetings as possible to try and get fully funded.  The great news is that I have been blessed with several meetings and people have seemed genuinely interested and concerned about our ministry.  The bad news is so far none of these meetings have led to new monthly and yearly support commitments.  Also, during this time we have had tons of trouble with our van and put money that we really needed for other financial issues into getting it fixed.  There are also some upcoming financial bills that I know will be here soon that just have led to me feeling totally overwhelmed.  There have also been some just struggles of loneliness and other issues that I really have felt have been hitting me hard during this time as well.

I am very much the type of person who likes a plan.  I like to know what needs to be done to get from point A to point B.  This struggling and sense of being overwhelmed this past month or so has really just began to take a toll, with anxiety, tightness in my chest, sleepless nights, and other issues derived from worry.  I have been so blessed with things that God is doing great in our ministry and opportunities to use sports to work with kids, but yet can’t help but feel Satan is using anxiety to rid me of the joy that I should be having.

The good though is that I know while I am nervous and anxious over the future my God is not.  He is in total control, even though I often feel alone.  In over 12 years of full time ministry and living on support, I have never had a need that God has not met.  And so I am retreating into His Word and promises.  From the time I accepted Christ as my Savior on October 14, 1984, my favorite verse has been Hebrews 13:5 which ways that God will never leave me nor forsake me.  That’s something I have to remind myself of overtime that I feel anxiety setting in.  Rather that wallowing in worry, I have to be diligent to call out to Him and not go to my automatic how do “I” fix this mode.

I know that deep down that if I trust God, He will always reveal Himself to be faithful.  That was evident this past weekend.  On Sunday after church, I was really struggling with anxiety and my chest was so tight that I was honestly scared.  I ran out to do some errands leaving my family at home and my anxiousness kept growing and I couldn’t shake it.  When I got home, though, as I shared in my last post, I had the opportunity to lead my 5 year old son to the Lord.  It was in that moment that God reminded me, “Andy, I got this.  I will take care of you and your family.”

great-is-thy-faithfulness

And I know that He will take care of us, I know that there is not a need that I have that He cannot meet, and I know that when I seek Him I will always find Him.  Pray with me that I will seek Him.  That I will look for God’s blessings and evidence of His faithfulness and not let Satan rob me of joy and thankfulness.  Pray with me that God will provide the needed support partners for our family to get to 100% and that I will have peace as we wait and be diligent to keep pursuing potential partners.  I hate being consumed by anxiety and worry, but once again am thankful that my God is not!

Great News!!!

JudahIt’s a day of Celebration in our family and in Heaven! After church today Maeven began talking with her brother Judah about His need for Jesus and prayed with him. I then was able to talk with Judah who very clearly told me “I want to follow Jesus!” We talked some more and prayed together and I am so excited that Judah know Jesus as his Savior and Lord! I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with my little guy. We are also so proud of Maeven for wanting to make sure her brother knew Jesus!

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?