speaking in public…

microphoneI have always been what most people would consider an outgoing guy.  I can go in and talk to people and joke and have fun.  The truth is though that while I can do those things, it’s not really me.  Going into a group of people and having to mingle petrifies me with anxiety and then take it another step further an have to speak to everyone and I get even more anxious.  The biggest anxiety of all though is when I am charged with sharing a devotion or preaching a sermon.  The pressure of making sure that not only am I communicating well, but also handling the truth of God’s Word properly very much overwhelms me.

Yet, I am in full time ministry where I have to do all those things that cause my anxiety.  From 2005-middle of 2016 I was in a ministry where I may only have to speak in front of a group a handful of times a year.  That all changed last year when I went full time with FCA.  Since that time I have had to share in churches, civic organizations, schools, and lots of other places.  In just a little over a year I have had more opportunities to speak than I have had in the 11 years prior.

All this is to say, I am so thankful that I have a God who encourages me and gives me strength to over come, or at least ignore the anxieties that attack me about speaking.  Where once I had a sense of dread when someone asked me to speak, now I am open to it and sometime find myself excited for the opportunity.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still scared and worried, but too many times has God showed himself faithful for me to be held back by those feelings.

This Sunday, I will be speaking at a church that I have never spoken at before. I am blessed to have the opportunity to not only share about our ministry with FCA but to also share a message from God’s Word.  The nerves and fears will come, but I have a great God who will give me strength and allow me to do all things through Him!

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leading a new Not a Fan study…

FB_Profile_horizontalTonight I start a 4 week study at my Dad’s church on Kyle Idelman’s book study “Not a Fan.”  I have had the pleasure of leading this study several times for teens, but this will be the first time I have led it for adults.  Please be praying for me as I challenge this group to move from being fans of Christ to true devoted followers of Christ.  It’s a message that has impacted me on a personal level and so many of the teens my wife and I work with.  Pray that God will use this study and give me words that come from Him to have maximum impact for His Kingdom.  I am excited to see where God is going to lead and what He is going to do, so please please pray!

starting to click…

my sweet Maeven...

my sweet Maeven…

The past week has been a very busy one for my children.  They have been going like crazy to camp, VBS, and church.  On Sunday, Maeven was even promoted to the next Sunday School age group and moved into Children’s Church.  Through all these experiences both kids have been hearing more and more about Jesus.  Erin and I also, read with our kids each night and do a small devotional and prayer time with them as well.  Judah is still a rambunctious toddler  and keeping him still is the biggest challenge, but Maeven is really listening to what she is being taught at camp, church, and home.  She came home from VBS on Saturday to let me know that Jesus is alive!!!  Then on Sunday, she talked with me all about what she had learned about Jonah in children’s church.  On Monday morning I took Maeven with me to pick up a little girl who was coming to grade school camp at YHBC this week.  Maeven wanted to know why we needed to pick up the little girl.  I told her that we needed to bring the little girl to camp so that she could hear about Jesus at camp.  Maeven was very excited and said this little girl needs to know Jesus is alive!  While I know from our conversations that Maeven is still a little while from understanding what it means to accept Christ as her Savior, I am so very excited to see things starting to click with her and her to begin to understand.  I am also excited to see the love she has for going to church and Bible camp and learning about Jesus and the joy she has for other people learning about Him as well.  Please pray for both my children that at a young age they will decide to follow Christ and that God will use them to do great things for his Kingdom!

book recommendation for church members and those considering joining a church…

rainer-book-1-241x300Last night at our church we began a new round of small groups and the one that I chose to attend is one that our pastor is leading on what true church membership is like.  The group is based on a study of the book, “I am a Church Member” by Thom Rainer.  The book itself is a small book that is a very easy read, evidenced by the fact that I got it last night and am almost done reading it at the writing of this blog post.  The book is a great reminder to those of us who have been involved in church life for so long about what true participation and growing as a church member looks like.  It also is a great introduction into what a church member should be to new Christians who are considering joining a church.   Some of the basic things discussed in the book are bing a functioning church member, not letting church be about our own preferences and desires, praying for our leaders, leading our families to be healthy members, and viewing church membership as a gift and not a right.  Through just reading I have already been challenged to grow in my role as a believer and church member.  I highly recommend reading this book and also doing a study on it in your church.  I am really excited to see how God is going to use it in my church and am looking forward to the next several weeks of discussion!

my princess and my superhero…

LIMG_1610ast night we took our kids to the Bear Track Bible Church annual Harvest Party Outreach.  The church hosts the outreach where kids can where their Halloween costumes, play games, get candy and prizes, but most importantly they hear a devotional.  Many kids from the community that don’t even attend the church come out with their families and it’s a great opportunity to share the Gospel.  Maeven and Judah went as Cinderella and Superman respectively.  Both had a blast playing the games and seeing all the other IMG_1619costumes.  I was very impressed with Maeven’s throwing ability as she consistently was able to throw balls direct into cups with great precision.  Judah on the other hand was more interested in going straight for the candy rather than playing games.  He did however enjoy running and spinning in circles so that he could see his cape fly out.  As a dad watching my kids have so much fun was special and again just a great reminder of how blessed I am to have my children and how much I truly love those kiddos!

fed by podcasts…

podcastsI didn’t realize it at the time, but when I went to Moody Bible Institute for college I was pretty spoiled spiritually.  Between the amazing professors, our president, top pastors and ministers that were brought in, and some pretty amazing churches in the Chicago area I was able to sit under some world class Bible teaching.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved and tried to soak in this teaching as much as I could, but little did I know how much I would long to be fed again in such a deep way spiritually.

Living rurally and being in full time missions, most of the time in a ministry setting, I find myself more often than not helping or leading rather than sitting under teaching.  I try to be a self feeder as much as possible with devotions and reading, but sometimes I still desire more.  Over the past few months though, thanks to technology, I have found a solution that has really brought some much needed spiritual nourishment and refreshment into my life….the podcast.

Whether it be listening to my iPod on a walk or sitting outside with the dogs at night, or even listening in my truck on my way to and from the Rec Center, just hearing sermons from some of my favorite pastors and teachers has been a huge blessing.  I’ve enjoyed hearing speakers from all over the world teach about Christ.  Currently, I have been going through a series on being salt and light by Andy Stanley.  It’s been awesome to see how God has been using what I have been learning through this podcast to line up perfectly with what I am currently teaching our teen Sunday School class on Sunday mornings.  Being able to transfer what I am learning or being retaught to our students has been so great.  I’ve also just really enjoyed being challenged to look closer at my life and see what areas I really need to grow more in my walk with Christ.

Whether you live rurally, are involved in full time ministry, or just want to add something to your life to help you grow spiritually I challenge you to get online and find podcasts of some of your favorite churches, teachers, and pastors.  I guarantee you will be challenged and blessed.

one thing at a time…

Busy OctopusWhen I was growing up, my mom and dad had a very simple rule when it came to my sister and I participating in extracurricular sports and teams.  That rule was simply One activity at a time.  Sometimes this was difficult to accept as I had to make choices like playing basketball or continuing to participate on the school academic team.  As much as I loved basketball, I knew I was more gifted in academics and more likely to get scholarship aid, so I chose that.  God was great and still worked out a way for me to play basketball in church league basketball which was only on hour a week.  Through church basketball league participation God used it to start a love of sports ministry within me which led me into full time ministry, but that’s a story for another day of blogging.

Throughout our school years my sister and I had opportunities to choose from many activities.  Quite often, it didn’t seem fair that we had the one thing at a time rule as we watched friends running around involved in everything.  I am even pretty sure that it led to some arguments with our parents.  Yet, now looking back through my 32 year old eyes I am thankful for the one thing at a time rule.

I can clearly see where having me focus on one activity at a time allowed me to be focused and excel (to the best of my abilities) in that one thing.  I can see as I hinted above where it freed me up to allow God to direct my future and develop a passion in me for ministry.  As I look at the kids that I work with today, so many of them are worn out and don’t know if they are coming or going.  Trying to get a student to commit to something is like grasping at the wind, it’s next to impossible because they have too much already going on.  Often they would like to commit to something, and may even verbally do so, but then they can’t follow through.  All too often the busyness keeps them from doing their best in any activity or sport they are in.

The most sad thing about the busyness that our students find themselves in is that the one thing that seems to get the least of their best is often their relationship with Christ.   They find they don’t have time for church, youth groups, Christian groups like FCA, and still worse personal quiet time in the Word and prayer.  Already this school year, I am finding myself encouraging students to be involved in all these aspects of their walk with Christ and hearing about how this club, sport, class, or activity is going to keep them from doing so.

I realize that in the competitive world of scholarships and high college bills our students and parents feel tremendous pressure to pursue anything and everything that can relieve this strain.  I want to encourage parents though to consider instituting the one thing at a time rule in your household.  This will allow your student to have the freedom to do their best and excel.  It also will relieve some of the stress and pressure our students face, that let’s be honest, they have enough of waiting for them in adulthood and they don’t need to face it now.  Finally, and most importantly, it allows them to have more freedom to pursue their relationship with Christ.  To grow deeper through personal and corporate Bible studies, actively participate in church, youth groups, and other Christian outreaches.  To pursue helping others and practicing servanthood towards their fellow man, without the nagging thought of all the others stuff that is overwhelming them currently.

Some, may not agree with me, and as a teenager I would not have agreed with me.  But, as I sit here typing this post out right now, I can without a doubt say that I am so very thankful for the William and Dawn Owens One Thing At A Time Rule!