Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Do One Thing... By Nina Keegan Owens

I will never forget one hectic but blessed morning I had a few years ago. It was really just like any other typical, rushed, everyone needing to get out the door type of morning that we all have from time to time. You know the drill, alarm... Snooze button... alarm... repeat this process a few more times, then like a crazed maniac you race to begin the chaotic daily process of waking up, getting the kids fed and out of the door for school, and getting yourself ready for work. The scene is the disorganized, scattered, pure definition of mayhem.
I finally get out the door and head to the nearest Starbucks haunt for my much needed morning cup of joe only to see that the line, of course is much longer than usual, I wait for what seems like an eternity, isn't it always that way when you are late? I hastily flip back and forth from checking the time to checking on my growing list of morning emails until finally, "One vente nonfat latte please!" When I start to hand the cashiere the money to pay for my morning addiction, she smiles at me and says, "A man gave me a one hundred dollar bill and told me to buy all the coffee for the people in line until the money is all spent so your coffee is free today!"
Imagine the wonderful surprise I had received, a blessing of kindness in the midst of my stressful morning routine from someone I will never even meet or know. I experienced my good fortune along with several others who were all blessed with free coffee and goodies that morning as well. We all just smiled and were thrilled to have been so blessed, it had turned out to be not such a bad morning after all.

I thought about the gentleman that purchased our coffees and thought he was probably every bit as hurried to get to work as the rest of us but he took a few extra seconds to just bless some patrons in a coffee shop that he didn't even know. He would get no thanks, just the great feeling of happiness one would get from doing such a deed.

Receiving such a wonderfully random act of kindness, not only changed my whole demeanor for the day but it blessed me and inspired me to pay it forward in some other way. It encouraged me to be a blessing to someone else in as random and unasuming kind of way that I was just blessed. Kindness.... Pure kindness..no tricks, no pay backs.. by definition, kindness means being marked by good and charitable behavior and the virtue of having a good disposition and a positive concern for others. It can be the joy of our lives to do good deeds for others without expecting anything in return. When we follow this desire there will be a kindness in everything we think, do, say, and feel. A savored protocol to live by and follow. He who does sow kindness and courtesy will reap an abundance of friendship and a glorious inner peace one can only get from doing good! We will greatly please the Lord when we are doing His work and we will inspire others to do the same.

I think too often in our very busy and hurried lives, we can greatly underestimate the power of a what a kind word, a cheerful smile, a listening ear, a heartfelt compliment or a simple random act of kindness and compassion can have on turning someone's day around.

Have you ever been having a pretty lousy day when all of a sudden someone pays you a sweet compliment or kindly offers to help you out with something, or maybe clear out of the blue you receive an uplifting phone call or email from someone that was thinking about you or praying for you.
These simple random acts of kindness can change the ways the corners of someone's mouth is turned and can put a smile not only on their face but in their hearts as well. There is an amazing magnitude of power buried in a tiny display of kindness, not only for the person on the receiving end but the bearer of the kindness as well.

(Acts 20:35) it is better to give than to receive...

Examples of well meaning joy and random displays of kindness can be contageous, it can start with one person doing just one thing! That one touch of kindness can have an endless snowball effect. Goodness seems to multiply and pick up speed, gathering momentum until a loving energy and a force of compassion sweeps its way into our lives and begins to implement positive change in all things, people, surroundings, and circumstances. A trickle of kindness can turn into a stream, a stream into a river, a river into a flood of kindness that spills over into a massive ocean of people all paying it forward, passing along the joy, the goodness and the kindness, extending out across the borders of hatred and laying a foundation of favor and blessings until kindness is a certainty rather than an occasional rarity. Kindness can cause a chain reaction that can change the very way we think, which can have a massive impact on how we treat others. We can walk in love. We can be grown up Christians that live what we preach, and by doing so, we can lead others to follow suit. In the Bible we are taught to walk in love. The Scriptures also tell us what love is....

(1Corinthians13:4-8) Love is patient, Love is KIND, it is not jealous, it does not brag and is not arrogant, it does not act becomingly, it is not its own, it is not easily provoked and does not take into account a wrong suffered. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, real love never fails. Now abide in faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Wherever we are, or happen to be, wherever there is humanity, there is an endless need for generosity, kindness and compassion. We all desire the exact same things, we all want to feel loved and cherished, we want a purpose. In the end, that's all that matters. We as Christians are put in place to be stewards of the Lord, to lead by example. We need to be ready and willing to reach out and bless others at every available opportunity. We can all get out of our cushy little comfort zones and ask ourselves daily, "What can I do to bless someone else today?" "Am I doing all I can to walk in love, to help others and to be an example of kindness of spirit?"

Start today, Do one thing!! One small, random thing!! Kindness comes in many forms, it can be as simple as a few sweet words, or an encouraging compliment. Bake some cookies or offer to cook dinner for the single mom down the street. Be a kind neighbor that will water the plants or help with the yard. Take someone's shopping cart back for them or help carry the heavy groceries for someone that's struggling to do so. Offer to babysit without pay to give some stressed parents a much needed night out. Let someone go ahead of you in line, give up your seat to someone standing, or buy that random cup of joe that will make a crazed mom's day better!

One thing I can assure you is that your good works will bless you in ways you would never have imagined, or have expected.. Blessings of pure joy and an an imeasurable happiness will overwhelm you, God makes sure of that. Your heart reaps the endless joyful rewards when you have made someone else smile for no other reason than just that ... No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted because it does more for the human soul than anyone could ever conceive. Go ahead, do one thing!!!

( Col 3:12). Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.


Heavenly Father we thank you that you will lead us to be a blessing to others today, give us opportunities to be of service to help others. We thank you that we will be at the right place at the right time and feel your gentle nudges to spread kindness! In Jesus name!
Amen

Monday, July 16, 2012

Love Letters from God...by Nina Keegan

How does God, our wonderful, glorious heavenly Father, the King of all Kings the creator of the entire, miraculously infinite universe communicate with each and every one of us?
When we as Christians become saved we simultaneously open wide the spiritual flood gates that let the beautiful, and knowledgeable mind of God penetrate our very being. It rocks us to our core thus providing us with an amazingly pure love and wisdom beyond anything we could ever imagine. Yes God does communicate with us, He only just requires us to have our minds and our hearts open and ready to hear Him when we pray and He needs us to sit silently focusing on Him while patiently awaiting His rebuttal.

Our hectic, busy, noisey, self centered lives can keep us distracted and more focused on our problems and our "to do" lists than on our loving God. Our prayer times can often be rushed and hurried or even scarce. Sure we take the time to pour it all out, spill our guts, our lengthy list gets read off, line by line and our prayer requests get checked off. We tell, ask God for everything on our ever changing prayer scroll. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in ourselves that our prayers can rival a child on Santa's knee parading the wish list of all the new toys we want and feel deserving of this year. We dont skip a beat as we pray. We barely come up for air, "God please change so and so, can you help me with this or that? Can I? Would you please?"
We zip through it all, not even pausing to take a breath, we have it basically all memorized, it's always the same maybe with a few new add-ons and changes thrown in here and there. Often during our prayer time, our minds are flooded with all the things we need to get done that day, our attention is constantly shifting as we drift in and out of the presence of God. We look at the clock, panic, and just like that... prayer time is over! It's like we invite God over for morning tea but send Him out the door before he gets to even have one sip!
God is left sitting there, we leave Him hanging, having not gotten a word in edgewise. We are supposed to be in a relationship with Him. A close intimate, loving, personal, relationship that requires both talking and listening. A conversation we need for our souls, and food for our hearts. How many other of our earthly relationships would last if they were as one sided as our often times extremely lopsided relationship is with God? We need to give Him all the glory, time, love, praise and gratitude He deserves each time we decide to go to Him in prayer.

(Jeremiah7:23) Because I listen to and obey God's voice, He will be my God and I will be one of His people.

We need to stop, be still, concentrate, fully listen to and pay attention to the still, small, voice of God. Give yourself the luxury of being up close and personal with the One who created your very existance. He has abundant blessings and priceless information laced into those precious conversations that He longs to have with us. Each priceless conversation is a blessing, a supernatural miracle, a chance to hear from God. God sends His Holy Spirit to set up shop and be the gate keeper of our minds, and the protector of our hearts and souls. The Holy Spirit becomes the conduit by which God sends His messages to us. The more time we spend practicing, listening and meditating on His word, the sooner and more efficiently we will be able to undoubtedly know and discern the voice of God. You will hear your conscious well up within you and lead you toward the answers you have been waiting to hear. God envelopes your total consciousness and is there to reprogram us and redirect our paths and to carry us straight through, step by precious step to that higher place, the awesome purpose to which we are called.
If God is trying to tell you something important, He will keep trying, but how much quicker could we be on our way to subtle victories and prayers answered if we had taken the time out to listen sooner than later?

(Deuteronomy 28:1)
Because I listen diligently to the voice of the Lord my God, being watchful to do all His commandments which He commands me this day, the Lord will set me High above all the nations of the earth.

God also communicates to us through His written word, spending time reading God's word gives you an arsenal of heavenly protection. You may be reading the Bible when a verse seems to leap off the page to you, or you suddenly find yourself completely focused on a certain scripture that happens to line up with or coincide with some questions or concerns you may be presently dealing with. You may feel prompted or lead to read specific scriptures that never really impacted you before but are stand outs to you now.
I think of these little serendipitous readings as if they are personalized love letters from God. His loving words to His children... He has written a message, a note to us in the Bible concerning any and all issues we could ever face. The more we get to know the Bible and study and rely on God's word, the more of God's sweet love letters we shall receive. We can store them up in our hearts and minds so as to arm ourselves with joyous wisdom and peace of mind when we are faced with every day trials and tribulations. We can line up every tough situation with the answers God provides us through His glorious word. There is always an answer, a solution, a promise, a reason and a purpose for everything.

Start Spending meaningful, uninterupted quality prayer time with God. Give Him time to talk and to move in you as you sit patiently and silently. Get to fully know Him, recognize His voice and trust Him with all your secrets, worries, cares and concerns. Thank him for your joys, your blessings and your life and praise Him for absolutely everything. Worship your time with Him, cherish your sweet love letters and never miss out on the daily tea party with God!!! "Honey or sugar, one lump or two?"


(proverbs 30:5)
Every word of God is tried and purified, He us a sheild to those who trust and take refuge in Him.

(Romans10:17)
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Heaveny Father, we long to hear your voice! Please give us the patience to wait on you as we take the time to both pray and listen.
We love you!
In Jesus name
Amen


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Does Everyone Really Win? By Nina Keegan -Owens

There is all this talk these days about the"Generation X", the so called now generation of young adults that carries with it such a huge negative portrayal. The particular studies of this certain demographic show how while not all, many feel a ceaseless sense of entitlement, have expectations of grandeur and are constantly seeking instant gratification. Specifically, they want the high paying jobs without paying their dues and putting in the time to prove their worth. They want all the newest, latest and greatest toys, gadgets, cars, homes and purchase them on credit and worry about making the rising interest payments later. They want the perks without the works! They seem quite lost and without a clear focus to drive them forward, they want over night success, and when they do not get it they become easily frustrated and quit trying all together. The give up society! There is no stick-to-itiveness attitudes these days. What has changed over the years that has lead us to be such a selfish nation of "wanna be's"?

If I were just going to compare my own life growing up to that of my two sons that are now young adults, to that of small elementary children today. The answer is in fact is very apparent to me.
Let's start with, "Everyone get's a trophy!" "Everyone is a winner!" Yes everyone whether you were the absolute stand out, the talented MVP of the team or whether you sat the bench, never came to practice and had a complacent, negative attitude, you too received a glorious shiny trophy, a chunk of marble with a plastic gold figure depicting the "sport de jour," to take home and proudly display in your room.
Of course every kid getting a hunk of metal and plastic to take home does not make or break an entire society of the human race, but it is kind of the theme these days, a metaphor! Everyone wins, everything needs to be fair and equal.. No one is realizing how actually unfair and harmful it is to let everyone win at everything everytime!

So some people may think this sounds kind of harsh, but I believe this whole system is wrong for a couple of reasons.
First, you create a world whereby kids feel like they never have to work hard at anything to have success. They get the message that success comes easily and without effort. Kids then fail to learn, to plan, think, problem solve, and achieve based on their own merits. They then as young adults do not go in search of their own niche, gather their own dreams and goals. They tend to want to just coast by on the coat tails of others. The problem is, those coat tails can become frail and wear out quite rapidly. They have nothing to strive for when the prize gets handed out so randomly..This creates a lazy, self indulgent, society that feels like they are always owed something for nothing. They never realize the value of hard work, they never really gain a full appreciation of the pay off one gets for all their strong efforts. They get a false sense of accomplishment and end up being afraid to fail because they really never have. One cannot ever fully appreciate success without having experienced some failures.

The second reason is, what happens to those who actually did work hard, put in all the effort, the time, the sweat, tears and pain? Is it fair to those that live it, breathe it, and go the extra mile every day to achieve their goals and dreams? Is it fair to those that sacrifice daily, and stay disaplined. The stop at nothings that are continuously striving to better themselves, setting and reaching goal after endless goal only to see their lazy counterparts lap up the same rewards for doing exactly nothing!
What would keep them motivated to continue working so very hard if everything is going to be equal anyway? They eventually too will lose their edge, their confidence, their resilience, their drive and determination to succeed.They feel failed by the system. Why should all benefit from the hard work of a select few? They eventually get burned out, having to put forth all the efforts to carry the others that put forth none. They eventually feel defeated and stop trying their best as well. We eventually produce a mediocre, inferior, society that lacks motivation, creativity, and a strong work ethic.
Nothing then has prepared the youth of today for the real world of tomorrow.

There is an old addage that says, if you give a man a fish, he eats for the day, but if you teach him to fish he eats for his life.
We all need to learn how to cast the proverbial pole and fish!! We must learn for ourselves so we can teach our kids that you do not get something for nothing, that hard work and determination will always pay off. You will see the fruits of your labor. Learn what it means to achieve, persevere and accomplish. If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen for yourself. Be dilligent reguardless of what your talents or your limitations are. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard! Have the courage and intuition to follow your own dreams and carve out a unique path for yourself, stop the copy cat mentality and do what you yourself are good at. If you will do what you can God will do what you can't.

(Proverbs10:4)
He becomes poor who works with a slack and idle hand, but the hand of the dilligent makes rich..

Success is awarded to those who live and dream endless possibilities and make it a habit to turn those possibilities into realities. The conflicts and battles we may encounter while on the road to success only offer benefits to us in the long run because we learn through endurance and struggle, trial and error to adapt ourselves to new situations. We have a choice each day to either make ourselves miserable or make ourselves strong, the effort is all the same. There is a huge difference between failing and not trying... So always try harder!!!!

( proverbs 12:24)
Work hard, become a leader. Be lazy, never succeed....

Heavenly father, help us to work hard and follow our own dreams and goals and to always give it our all. Help us to stay focused on you and motivated as we strive for excellence . In Jesus name we pray...
Amen

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Do It Afraid.. By Nina Keegan Owens

Some friends of mine were recently telling me about how they had gone sky diving. They actually did it, they jumped out of a plane! They had gone tandemly, which means they were attached to a skilled, well trained, sky diving instructor, but none the less they leaped out of an open plane door and free fell thousands of feet to the ground depending only on a backpack filled with piles of folded nylon and rope to open mid air, unfold properly, and gently coast them down to a soft landing safely on to the ground.

I asked them if they would ever do it again, while they both shared mixed emotions on that, their responces were,"No way, it was terrifying"! and "I did it once that's enough, I'm crossing it off my bucket list!"
Yes indeed, the infamous bucket list ..defined as the list of all the things you want to do before you,"kick the bucket!"
So I got to thinking about this list and asked a few people what things would they have at the top of their lists. The answers were pretty amazing. Most things were very adventerous, and dangerous types of things that you would normally never do, climbing Mount Everest, swimming with the sharks,driving a professional race car at it's top speed on an indy track.. The list was an endless string of adrenaline rush type stunts that people would generally be extremely fearful of.

It occurred to me that we seem to put our fears on to a "To Do" list in a category that we probably would never get around to doing anyway. Why is that? Metaphorically speaking, don't we kind of do that in our daily lives with all our fears? Even the little ones? Some of these are not so irrational, simple, trivial, types of fears that we turn into huge road blocks and hurdles in our lives. They can stifle us and prevent us from living free and in God's peace. Some people have a fear of going to the Doctor, a fear of flying, of storms, elevators, heights, being alone, and some even have a senseless, fear the dark. These fears can snowball out of control and paralize us, leaving us to make continual, incessant, excuses for our avoiding these certain things. Fears can turn into greatly exagerated phobias to the extent where by when we are faced with these certain anxieties we can turn our emotions into sheer terror and panic reguardless of how irrational it all really is.
Don't get me wrong, normal fear has it's place. It can be helpful and protective, it's an automatic responce our body puts in place to protect us, it keeps our minds alert and ready when we are faced with a dangerous situation. It triggers our bodies to be able to respond accordingly and promptly when we are in jeopardy.
With phobias however, the fear is much different. People panic, play worst case scenarios out in their minds, like an endless revolving tape. Simple fear can turn to mass hysteria in their minds and then they detour their way around these fear prompting situations all together. For an example it's normal to be frightened when you are on a plane and experiencing some bad turbulance but it's irrational to avoid a friend's destination wedding for fear of flying.
Fears are nothing more than obstacles that stand in the way of progress in our lives. They are a product of our own subconscious that is deeply rooted and allowed to grow wildly. It cannot be conquered until we make up our minds to do so!

(Romans 8:37) We are more than conquerors through God's perfect love

God's perfect love casts out all fears. When we can begin to fully rely on God by letting Him into our hearts and lives and by having a daily intimate relationship with Him, we will begin to manipulate change in ourselves. Soon we can begin to see Him tearing down our walls of fear brick by brick, the walls begin to slowly erode until we finally trust Him in all situations and feel a peace beyond which we have never experienced before. The enemy constantly puts fears in our hearts to distract us and keep us from living our best lives. Having a stronghold of fears is the antithesis of God's peaceful security, and ceaseless protection in our lives.

We need to realize that God is in complete control of every situation and scenario we face, He knew what, when, and how we would face each moment of our entire lives, start to finish, beginning to end. So let's let Him take us through it all safely and calmly, peacefully and wisely.

One of my favorite Bible stories is when Jesus is asking Peter to step out of the boat and walk to Him on the water. Peter was in a small wooden boat with a few other apostles on a choppy, deep, dark, sea and was told to step out of the safety of that vessel and walk on the water to Jesus. Can you even imagine that? Talk about needing to trust the Lord when you are fearful!! When Peter bravely took his first few steps outside of the safety of the tiny boat, the waters became more rough and he began to doubt and lose faith, he began to sink, but with Jesus's encouragement his faith grew.. Jesus then reached out to him and placed him safely back in the boat. Jesus was there the whole way guiding him and keeping him safe. Peter did it afraid!! He walked on water! With all eyes on him in amazement He was trusting Jesus to protect him with every crazy, nerve wracking, supernatural, step he took! How many of us stay trapped in the boat on choppy water because we give into our fears?
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( Isaiah 41:10) says, Do not be afraid for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will help you and strengthen you and raise you up in my righteous right hand...,

God is still that same awesome God today, the same protecting Father that guided Peter across the water. He never changes! He can still be that one God that delivers you from your fears so you can live in peace. He will hold you up when you have scarey waters to tread upon or whether you just need some encouragemnt to step out in Faith! Do it afraid, knowing God is right there to catch us when we fall, quiet us when we fear and humble us with His endless peace and enduring security. Do not ever dread anything that is alive and vibrant with God's remarkable presence. You need only call His name and be rescued, set free from fears, and delivered from all anxiety. God can and always will do what man can't do, He remains the Great "I Am!" He is and always will be all you will ever need!
(Psalm 138:8)
He will perfect that which concerns you....

Heavenly Father, thank you today that we can live our lives free from fear knowing you are with us, guiding and protecting us each and every single day!! Help us to enjoy our lives to the fullest and to have your peace in our hearts.
We praise you in Jesus name!
Amen