Monday, October 22, 2012

God Is Our Strong Tower by Nina Keegan Owens

Do you ever feel like you are continually having to scale up steep and tumultuous hills in your life? Do you often feel like everyday is an uphill battle? It seems just when it appears you are getting some traction, gaining some ground and securing your footing, you slip, you backslide, and you continually feel like it is always one step forward and three steps back.

You get overwhelmed and frustrated and feel like giving up. You often ask yourself where God is and why does He seem so far away from you and the battles you are facing.

God is never far from us, our times, good and bad are in His hands. We need to be confident in His ability and His willingness to see us through all we face. We need to just trust God and believe that He will work it all out for our good! He knows way more than we ever could and His timing in our lives is perfect.

Psalm 31:14-15
I trust in, rely on, and am confident in You, O Lord; I say, You are my God. My times are in your hands.

God is never far away, in fact He is always right there on stand by waiting for you to call upon His name. He is our refuge. Our weakness is His strength. I am sure there are many times in all of our lives when we felt like God was not answering our prayers but today, if we look back at those same situations, we can see exactly what God was doing and now from this perspective we would not change a thing! The Bible says that God will always perfect all that concerns us!

Growing up near Chicago Illinois, the winters would get pretty harsh, the roads would get very snowy and icy, l""there would even be freezing rain and sleet. Often blizzard like conditions would cover the area in blankets of white making it virtually impossible to travel. I can still hear the roaring sound of the snow plows late at night trying to keep up with the mounds of blowing snow. Often all that snow plow activity in the middle of the night would mean a "snow day"at school!! A day off to play in the snow is the way we saw it as kids. It was really meant to keep people home and safe from the dangerous and icy road conditions.
People would often put snow chains on their tires and the city salt trucks would would be out in full force salting the roads to provide extra traction. News and radio announcements would continually be reporting updates on road and school and business closings.

Even though one would take all these necessary safety precautions for better and safer conditions, the roads would still be extremely slick, cars would still slide and spin out of control landing them in the snow drifted ditches. The road sides were often littered with cars that just could not make it during the hazardous blizzard like storms and people would just have to abandon their cars to be dug out later. Getting a rescue ride home in a tow truck was not out of the ordinary.

Sometimes life hands us slick roads, we often feel like we have no traction and our lives are aimlessly spinning out of control. But God is ALWAYS in control. The Bible says He is our Rock and a Strong Tower, a shelter over us during any and all tumultuous times in our lives.

Psalm 18:2-3
The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I trust and take refuge, my shield, and a horn of my salvation, my Strong Tower. I call upon The Lord, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.

God wants us to live peaceful and joyous lives regardless of what's going on around us. We can feel out of control but remain in control. We can cast any and all uphill battles off to the Lord and go about our days knowing and trusting that God is taking care of it all!! He cares about every last detail of our lives. God never sleeps so we can sleep! God wants us to pour our hearts out to Him and look to Him first. We must pray our hearts desires out to Him and let God take it from there. We must believe that God can and will do all He says He will. The Bible is full of God's truths for our lives. When we line up our situations with the word of God; we are claiming that victory for ourselves and our situations.

We must know the word of God for ourselves so we can draw from that wisdom and knowledge when the icy roads in our lives metaphorically rear their ugly heads.

Knowing what the word of God says provides us with a clear and detailed blueprint on how to handle turmoil, conflicts, and crisis of any kind. He provides us peace in the midst of the chaos and a calming rest in the middle of our storms. We can declare victory over any uphill battle we face when we are covered in the full amour of God.

Isaiah 26:3
God guards me, keeps me in perfect and constant peace because my mind is stayed on Him, because I commit myself to Him, lean on Him and I Hope confidently in Him.

The Lord lovingly and unselfishly sent His precious only Son Jesus to suffer gravely and to die a tortured and horrendous death for us...for you, for me, because He loves us that much!

Imagine that kind of perfect love.... If God did not withhold His only child from us, surely He will not withhold our needs and the answers to our prayers.

1 John 4:18
His perfect love casts out all fears!

Trust The Lord today with everything you are facing, let Him rain peace down over you and your loved ones and let His perfect love blanket your concerns and clothe you in His righteous presence as you trust and believe in Him for all you need today! His grace will always be sufficient for us and even though we may feel like in the flesh we are failing, we were all bought with a precious price. He is our strong portion of everything and He is our redeemer forever.

Heavenly Father, thank you that when we are weak you are strong! Thank you for lifting us up during times of need as you help us to scale our uphill battles with ease. We give you all the glory and we trust in and fully rely on you today to hear and answer our prayers and God give us patience to wait for your perfect timing!
In Jesus name!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Simple Abundance by Nina Keegan Owens

I have just returned home from a wonderful vacation in Scotland with my husband and some good friends of ours. We had such a great time doing all of the touristy types of things from touring the richly ancient castle ruins steeped in scottish history, to combing the breath taking beaches along the banks of the frigid North Sea. We have toured through the elegant palaces still in use by the Queen and the Royal family today. There are wonderful cathedrals that were built back in the 1300s with their heaps of embellishments and intricate stained glass.

Of course no trip to Scotland would be complete without golf!!! Tons of golf! Walking around in the quaint little town of St. Andrews presented an amazing perspective on the vast history and how a place like this amazingly simple town could carve out what would become a top past time for people all over the world!! This town made golf!! I was amazed at the many famous people that have graced these beautiful courses and the thousands of historic events that have happened in this gorgeous seaside village over the centuries.

This lovely place, it would appear is the town that time forgot, everything it seems is exactly how it was hundreds of years ago. The hand carved architectures on the buildings are original and not done with the help of modern machinery of any sort. There is no giant Walmart or huge mall at the edge of town, nor is there any signage or billboards obscuring your view of the town's gorgeous cobblestone streets and marvelous stone buildings. There are no parking garages or over passes of any kind.

The Scottish people shop simply and healthily at small individual shops. There are small proprietor shops for produce, butcher shops, bakeries, and cheese shops. There are woolen mills and dress shoppes and repair shops each that has been a generational mainstay for many years. Gone is all the useless packaging, boxes and endless plastic bottles. Walking is the main form of transportation. People bundle up and get outdoors. The scottish live very simply and seem wonderfully happy.

The University of St. Andrews wraps itself through town with the same traditions and buildings that have been used for centuries still standing strong and brilliant in the rich sea air.

You need time; a moment to soak it all up and take it all in. The absolute definition of simple abundance!

We as Americans can get so wrapped up in our stuff. We want convenience at every turn. We are the throw away society. When something breaks we toss it and hurry to buy new. We buy bigger and better. We wait in line for the latest and the greatest. We buy way more than we need or can even use.

You cannot serve God and money.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in it all and we idolize our "stuff" like cars and phones, computers, money, even the designer name tags on our clothes.

We go after these items like owning them defines us. The more you get the more you want. It is like a bottomless pit. We want and we want! We are it seems, trying to fill a void that only God can fill.

(Luke 12:34)
For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.

God wants our hearts!! Period!! When we can let go of all the complexity of having and taking care of, and maintaining all of our stuff; we can concentrate on that which is really important. We can get overwhelmed and tired from keeping up with the Joneses. We can get sidetracked, and complacent and we eventually leave little remaining time to spend with with our loving creator. The rat race is a terrible thing, it's like a race without a finish line. One we can never get out of nor ever win.
To much stuff, to much to do and overbooked schedules can take over our lives and can become very burdensome. We even over book our children. We overwhelm them with to many activities, they get no down time and get frustrated. When we are doing to much we cannot do all things well. Sooner or later we burn out, run out of steam and we let important things slide. We need to do some sole searching and ask ourselves where our hearts are. We need to take action to let go of some of the things that are bogging us down and simplify our lives. We need to spend more time in the presence of God. When we can nurture our relationships with God and put him at the top of our to do lists, we will begin to make subtle shifts in our hurried days and relax in His comfort and we will regain our our long lost joy.

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses His soul?

We never want to look back on our lives and realized we've missed it. Life is short, it's fleeting and we need to uncomplicate our lives and enjoy the little things. Take time to smell the roses. Be present in your own life. Participate, don't just go through the motions and crawl into bed at night crossing another day off your list!

Take yourself and the "What about me"? question out of the equation and ask what you can do to serve God and others today. I guarantee that when you do just that you will find unspeakable joy.
I challenge you to simplify your life, take stock of what's important and rethink your goals. Put God at the top of the list and the rest of the list, well....
It won't really matter much any more!!

Heavenly Father,
Help us to simplify our lives today and to slow it down a bit. Help us to redirect our focus on to you and our families. Help us to realize what's important as we weed out the materialism that stifles us and our walks with you!!
Thank you Lord!
In Jesus name!