Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What More Can He Say?

21 August 2014

This past Sunday was full of blessing for me, and I just wanted to share just one of the things that topped it all off and helped me so much, with hopes that it will comfort and strengthen you as powerfully as it did me.

The closing hymn for the evening service was “How Firm A Foundation”. I can’t remember ever actually following the line of thought all the way through before (which is really shameful, considering the number of times I’ve sung it), but it was surely a blessing to do so this time. The first stanza is basically an introduction, drawing our attention to the rich, sweet promises that we have in Scripture. Then each succeeding stanza is written as though our Lord is speaking one of those promises directly to us.

I don’t know about you, but I am often overcome by anxiety and dread about difficult situations the Lord has lovingly allowed in my life. If I am honest, I call that miserable habit by a much uglier name: unbelief-the opposite of faith (belief). As I have thought about it, I’ve come to realize that when I allow myself to dwell on my fears, I’m basically refusing the comfort God offers so lovingly and despising His precious, precious promises. How much better to pour out my soul to Him in prayer, counsel myself (or more accurately, allow Him to counsel me) from His Word, and comfort myself in the Lord my God! Because when I really think about all the amazing things He has promised, truly “What more can He say?”

Elizabeth Owens

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who to Jesus for refuge have fled?

“In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.”

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

“When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

“The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

Our Trustworthy God

6 April 2014

Dear praying friends,

I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, both to share blessings and to clarify (for those who haven’t guessed) that since I’ve become a wife and more recently a mommy, the purpose of this blog has gradually shifted from “more frequent updates” (which are now sent out via MailChimp to everyone who receives our prayer letters by email) to something more like “what God has been teaching me” (geared more towards women, obviously. and, as you’ve probably noticed, sent out much less frequently than before, since God has given me other responsibilities that take precedence over blogging!). If you were depending on this blog for news about our family and ministry, please let me know so I can add you to the other list!

Throughout our furlough ministry this past year, our theme has been God’s trustworthiness. It’s something He taught us so much about over our first term and continues to lovingly confirm to our hearts. (Having a little one definitely opens my eyes in a whole new way to so many things about my Heavenly Father and myself as His little child!) Something I’ve shared with many people, from friends facing difficult decisions to young people wondering what God wants them to do, is my daddy’s oft-repeated statement: “God has a way of making Himself clear” (i.e., I can trust Him to show me His will). The test is, of course, “Am I willing to wait for that?” Not long ago I stumbled across this passage that says it so much better than I could and has become very precious to me:

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye.

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked:
but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous:
and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Psalms 32:8-11

Will you take a moment right now to pray that I won’t be headstrong and try to take the bit in my teeth and rush ahead of the Lord, but instead make it a life habit to trust Him to the point of not just setting my teeth and grimly enduring hard things (big or small), but actually rejoicing the whole time as I rest in His mercy and love and wisdom and power?

Thank you, dear friends!

Elizabeth Owens

A Worthy Response

14 August 2013

I received this response from a dear, much-respected missionary friend just now and thought it was well worth passing on to all of you, particularly for the sake of those who may have been discouraged by the rather one-sided perspective in my recent post. I believe that what I said is true, but it would be a tragedy to lose sight of the other side of this. I know all too well the despair of self-focus, even (if not especially!) in the effort to please God. Praise the Lord for godly friends with the love and courage to speak up, balancing us out and ultimately helping us to think more biblically.

Elizabeth Owens

Dear Ellie,

Thanks for sharing what you’ve been through! I love you and am praying for you.

At the risk of sounding like a frilly ladies’ Bible study . . . one thing that strikes me is the fact that though you’re right about our need to deal with all the sinful thoughts and ugly inclinations of our wicked hearts, it’s also most definitely true and needs to be emphasized just as much (if not even more) to your heart at a time like this, how great and unchanging is your Father’s love.

My experiences on the field have been very different from yours — but I also passed through some pretty tumultuous times spiritually, and one of my greatest helps in finding stable ground to stand on again is the counsel I’ve received to rest in my Father’s love. I was facing my sinfulness head-on — and I was trying hard to deal with it, calling it what God called it. But when I focus on my sinfulness, it floods me out. Despite my ugliness, weakness, foolishness, unworthiness, and everything else, His love is deep and unchanging. And though you’re right that God doesn’t just tell us that we’re wonderful when we’re not, it is also true that we are IN CHRIST — who IS wonderful, worthy, beautiful, delightful to His Father! One of my supporting pastors one day encouraged me that day not to think of my love for God’s, but of His for me. That is a helpful thing sometimes! Looking at me is discouraging and black and really depressing — but when I can focus on my beautiful Savior, my Father’s constant, deep, and unchanging love — my world can be beautiful and joyful — and I love Him more than I ever could by worrying about how far short my love for Him is falling! So let me give you the same encouragement, dear one — I agree that we have to deal with sin upfront, call it what God calls it, hate it like He hates it — but sometimes you just need to look away, look up, and rest in your Father’s love for you.

Encouragement

7 August 2013

Dear praying friends,

Thank you for praying for me over these weeks and months of silence. I have been busy, obviously, adjusting to a new baby and life on the road, but I’ve also had what I think is probably a fairly significant struggle with postpartum depression. I’ve battled with some of the blackest, most selfish and wicked thoughts imaginable, and I’m so glad that I finally seem to be past that awful stage. But I’m also unspeakably thankful for the many things God has taught me and want to share some of them with you in hopes of perhaps being used of the Lord to help someone else. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) This is just one of the many benefits of hard times that really does make them so precious.

I have always been leery of women’s ministry classes, Bible studies, etc because they usually turn out seeming frilly and even harmful to me because I sense that there’s something wrong in the unspoken thinking behind them. As I’ve thought about it I think the issue is that we women generally want a sort of teddy bear God who will feel sorry for us, kiss away our problems and tell us how much He loves us and that we’re wonderful, beautiful, etc etc etc ad nauseum! (Kind of like we sometimes expect our husbands to always be doing-not that they never should, but that it would be terribly unloving and unhelpful to do only that!) So we like to pick out verses along those lines and develop entire classes that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which actually caters to our problem rather than confronting it. I think it’s a perfect illustration of what God really tells us: our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, and our problems are not usually external or unique but come mostly from that seething wickedness within us. Instead of ignoring that evil and making us feel good about ourselves, He gives us a sword, His Word, to hack through our deceitful, incredibly selfish thinking and instead think on things that are true, honest, pure, clean, and lovely. And it’s incredibly loving of Him, because “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). Victory of this sort over wrong thinking is so much sweeter because it doesn’t carry with it that awful creeping guilt that has to be continually shoved back into a corner.

So what God has taught me to do is, when a wicked thought or reaction pops into my head, think, What a wicked, selfish/mean/jealous/absolutely ridiculous/whatever-it-is thing to think! (Call it what it is and agree with what God has to say about it.) I am God’s child, and I don’t have to think like that– and I won’t! “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is FAITHFUL, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). “And God is able to make ALL GRACE ABOUND toward you, that ye, ALWAYS having ALL SUFFICIENCY in ALL things, may ABOUND to EVERY good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). And then pray to the Lord and confess my sin and ask His forgiveness, and then leave it and purposefully turn my thoughts to something else – – a good choice is to rehearse whatever Scripture passage I’m currently memorizing, because after all, it’s God’s Word that is my sword and the key to victory in this fight!

God has comforted me with many Psalms, like 40 and 51. Over and over I have prayed the prayer in Ps. 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” I know this is His will, and I really believe He is answering!

Please pray for me and all your missionaries, that we will never give up the fight for godly thinking.

Elizabeth Owens

Lydia Grace

15 May 2013

Jeff is writing this blog because Elizabeth is busy feeding our daughter, Lydia Grace Owens. Lydia was born yesterday at 5:47 pm so as I write this blog we have enjoyed her for a little over a day. She weighed 6 pounds 11oz and was 20 ½ inches long and seems to be adjusting well to this big new world. The Lord has been so good in giving safety during the delivery to both Elizabeth and Lydia. Both are doing well and are expecting to be released to go home tomorrow.

Act 16 talks about how God opened the heart of Lydia, in the town of Philippi, so that she heard Gods Word which the Apostle Paul was preaching. It is our prayer that the Lord will open our Lydias heart so she also will be opened to Gods Word and receive His grace in her life and exhibit a gracious spirit towards others.

Safe and sound in SC

14 March 2013

Sorry for the delay in letting you all know, but we arrived safely (and right on schedule) in SC yesterday morning. Jeff’s family met us at the airport, shared lunch and dinner with us, and took us to see the apartment that they, along with the folks from Harvest, our home church, had located and furnished for us. What a huge blessing! They also valiantly helped us meet our goal of staying up until bedtime, and we slept well until around 3:30 this morning. J (Getting up at 6 am here is exactly the time we would usually be headed for bed in PNG!) Today we have worked on getting some things in order, and Jeff’s mom took me to find some much-needed maternity clothes.

It is hard to believe we are here. We are looking forward to hopefully seeing many of you over the coming weeks and months. Thanks so much for your prayers, and for those who have replied with encouraging little notes!

Elizabeth Owens

En route to the US

11 March 2013

Dear praying friends,

Jeff and I are sitting in the Sydney airport, waiting for our flight to Honolulu which is scheduled to depart in about an hour and a half. We have a nice window seat where we can see the Sydney skyline and Jeff can watch the airplanes! Thanks for your prayers for us as we travel. Lord willing we will arrive in Charlotte on Tuesday morning.

We left PNG with heavy hearts, but as the coastline receded behind us and we headed out over the ocean towards Australia, my prayer was that the Lord will bring us back and grant us the privilege of seeing Him break through and be glorified in Kiari.

We enjoyed our weekend in Sydney. On Saturday friend took us on a ferry across the harbor, and we were able to see the opera house and royal botanical gardens. Then yesterday we went with her to a Sudanese service in the morning and her church’s evening service, and one of her pastors and his wife had us over for lunch and took us to a nearby park to see some kangaroos, wallabys, emus, and more gardens. It was a huge blessing to worship and fellowship with the believers here.

Thanks again for your prayers!

Elizabeth Owens

Please keep praying

28 February 2013

Please do continue in prayer for the situation in Kiari. It obviously is very much on our minds today. We praise the Lord so much for His protection. I have thought often over the past few days of the verse that says something to the effect of “even the wrath of men will praise Him; the remainder of wrath He will restrain.” He allowed only what was in His perfect plan; only what would bring Him praise. And He will continue to allow only that! Please pray particularly for the believers in Kiari. They are being told a lot of lies. Some I think probably believe them; at least one (the faithful church leader) says he doesn’t know who to believe. We don’t blame him; this man had us deceived too for the longest time. Please join us in praying that the Lord will grant all of the believers a growing uneasiness with the lies going around and a clear discernment of the truth. I am also praying that He will mercifully grant the offender real torment of mind and body, leading to his repentance and experience of the Lord’s wonderful forgiveness (Ps. 32).

The Lord has used the whole thing to really challenge me personally. The Psalms in particular have been a huge encouragement and comfort, but also a challenge. Psalm 27 speaks of a faith in the Lord so deep that the believer does not even fear/his heart is not afraid/he is CONFIDENT even in very fearsome circumstances. I can’t say any of those things were true of me when that man was beating on our door and trying to break it down. I am thankful for the Lord lovingly using the situation to bring this to my attention and urge me to pray and work towards growth in trusting Him. I guess praying when you’re afraid is one of the faintest marks of faith; doing right even though you’re afraid (i.e., courage) is a stronger one. but not even being afraid??? I want to have such an unshakable faith in my God that I am not even afraid!

Looking forward with you to what our wise, loving, powerful God will do through this,

Elizabeth Owens

Safely in town

27 February 2013

Thanks for your prayers for us today, and for those who emailed letting us know you are praying and encouraging us from God’s Word. We slept well last night (7 whole hours!), finished up last packing and cleaning at home, and made it safely up to the airstrip and to Goroka this morning.

The people from our neighborhood-mostly unsaved-were so sweet to us as we were leaving. Several went up to the airstrip to help carry things and see us off, and many others met us along the road. In contrast, we saw almost none of the believers (other than the 3 from Kensa) and they were all rather cold. We heard that the man who caused trouble the other night met the two men on the road whom Jeff had asked to come so he could tell them what was going on, and from what the faithful church leader told our coworker Karen this morning, his story was very different from Jeff’s. Unfortunately it appears people are believing him or at least can’t decide what to think. Just pray that the Lord would give them discernment so that they will believe the truth and see through the lies.

We’d appreciate your prayers also for our team leader, Randy Smith, and his family. They are finishing up their last few days of furlough and are scheduled to arrive in Goroka next Thursday (we have tickets to leave the next day). Pray also for our coworker Karen Hall as she holds down the fort in Kiari.

Thanks so much! It is an encouragement that so many are praying-that means that when the Lord answers there will be many to praise Him for what He does!

Elizabeth Owens

Update

26 February 2013

Just wanted to thank you all for your prayers and let you know that nothing more (bad) has happened last night or today. The people in our neighborhood are upset that it all happened and have been very supportive. One of the Christian families is sleeping in our cookhouse tonight, and two of Jeff’s buddies asked if they could patrol our fence.

Please pray that the Lord would control the rest of our time here. Right now (9:30 pm) Jeff is explaining what happened to our faithful church leader and another brother, just so a couple more of the believers are aware of the situation, and it sounds like they’re just about done. We are hoping for a good night’s sleep and plan to leave our house at 7 am to walk up to the airstrip to leave for our furlough. Weather (and all the other PNG variables!) permitting, the chopper is scheduled to arrive around 9 am. We have heard that this man plans to be at the airstrip. Last night he apologized before leaving; we are praying that he meant it and won’t cause any more trouble.

Thank you all again for your prayers. Special thanks to those who replied and were such an encouragement.

Elizabeth Owens