Tuesday, August 12, 2014

PRESENT DEMAND

 Vol 13 No 13
August 12, 2014
Dear Friend,
“Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me. ’” Luke 10:40*  
For Martha it’s all about the to-do list. She reminds me of the White Rabbit with his giant watch running away from Alice in Wonderland crying, “I’m late I’m late for a very important date. No time to say hello goodbye I’m late I’m late I’m late.” Ever feel like that? I bet you do all the time!
I like to call our over busyness, “The Law of Present Demand.” It sure was the White Rabbit’s problem! Present demand includes all of the things coming at you, demanding you right now. It's what Jim Dobson calls the “sustained panic, ” what John Ortberg calls “hurry sickness ”and what Brigid Schulte calls “time confetti” in the book Overwhelmed on being too busy to live.

The Law of Present Demand regulates our lives in three ways. The pressure of present demand moves any non-pressing item to the bottom of the list. The routine of present demand convinces us that everything we are doing is necessary. The comfort of present demand lulls us into thinking that while we complain about our busyness, we actually like it.

Some years ago the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, Colorado, Bob Oerter, led a retreat with a bunch of us all being crushed by the Law of Present Demand. He offered this amazing word,  “Learn to live with the load of the unfinished!” That has stuck with me ever since.
In a society where we have to “get all of this stuff done,” our sense of “present demand” overwhelms our priorities and easily diverts us from loving our Lord, loving ourselves, loving our neighbors. Learn to live with the load of the unfinished so that like Mary you take time for Jesus, you take time for your neighbors, you take time for yourself and those you love.

Joy to you - 

E. Stanley Ott


Copyright 2014 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

GOD SIGHTINGS

 Vol 13 No 12
July 29, 2014
Dear Friend,
I was coping with a number of uncertainties when someone facing his own unknowns remarked he was learning to trust our Lord more deeply. It was a direct word to me to trust more deeply as well. A God sighting happens as you see God’s work in your life and in the world around you.
Luke 10 records what for Jesus Christ had to be one of the greatest moments in his ministry with his disciples.  He sent seventy of them out in pairs with very specific instructions such as, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house! ’ Cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” Luke 10:5,9 
Upon the return of the Seventy, they report with great joy, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” A God sighting has become common parlance for an awareness of the hand of God in the midst of some situation. Clearly the Seventy had experienced a lot of God sightings! 
Jesus was enjoying his own God sighting as he saw his Father clearly working through his followers. “At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’” Luke 10:21
Ask your Lord to open your eyes that you may experience the joy of your own God sightings!

Joy to you - 

E. Stanley Ott

Copyright 2014 E. Stanley Ott*Scripture from the NRSV

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THE TRAINING OF THE TWELVE

 Vol 13 No 11
July 23, 2014
Dear Friend,
Luke Chapter 9 offers a remarkable snapshot of the ministry of Jesus highlighting both the power of God and the training of the twelve apostles. 
It begins with Jesus sending them by saying, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.” Luke 9:3* In other words they could only rely on the power of God and the good will of others to sustain them. They reported back to him the wonderful things that had happened.
A crowd grew and they asked Jesus to send the people away because, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish-” Luke 9:13  They had seen God work on their earlier mission but failed to connect the dots that God’s power was still available to them.
Jesus then takes them on a mountain to pray and the apostles witness what is called the Transfiguration. Jesus, in his glory, talks to Moses and Elijah. Chapter 9 ends with a word from Jesus about the implications of following him.
When we arrive at Luke Chapter 10 we discover Jesus again sending his disciples, now seventy of them, two by two and with similar instructions.
What we see is the progressive discovery on the part of the disciples of the true nature of Jesus as God and the tasks he sent them on to train them as followers.
Think about your own recent “God-sightings” – where you have seen the power of God at work – and ask yourself, what is our Lord teaching me about my own followership at this time?

Joy to you - 

E. Stanley Ott


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

FOLLOWERS

Vol 13 No 10
July 8, 2014

Dear Friend,

Sometimes what seems like extra information in the story of Jesus actually tells us a lot about what kind of people Jesus developed and how he went about it.
For example, the first verse of Luke chapter 8 tells us Jesus went through cities and villages proclaiming the good news and in the fourth verse the story narrows to the gathering of a great crowd as the setting for the famous parable of the sower.
However in between those two verses we read, “ The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.” Luke 8:1b-3* 
The twelve disciple-apostles often get all of the attention as the followers of Jesus as well as the focus given on the “inner three,” Peter, James and John. Yet Luke teaches us that women were as close to Jesus as men.  
Mary, Joanna and Suzanna had been healed in some way by Jesus, all of them helped finance his work, and two of them, Joanna and Susanna, were present when the tomb of Jesus was discovered empty and heard the incredible words, “He is not here. He has risen.”
Every single one of us is invited to believe in and follow Jesus.  Jesus invites you to follow him, to place all aspects of your life in his service and to know the wonder and joy of this Lord who lives!

Joy to you - 

E. Stanley Ott

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

COMPASSION

Vol 13 No 9
July 1, 2014

Dear Friend,

A short moving video was in the news last week. The Pope traveling in southern Italy noticed a bedridden girl with her family along the side of the road and had his car pull over. He kissed the girl, touched a baby held up to him and touched many others before leaving with sounds of many people crying, “Grazie (thank you).” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e64S4oTMuZs
It reminds me of a story that must have been amazing to watch unfold. Jesus is walking to a town called Nain and his disciples and a large crowd were walking with him. He comes upon the funeral procession of the only son of a widow walking out from the town accompanied by a large crowd.  
With these two large crowds intermingling and looking on, Jesus immediately has compassion for this mother and says, “Do not weep,” walks over and says, “Young man, I say to you arise.” The dead man sat up, spoke and Jesus gave him to his mother. If the people there spoke Italian, believe me you would have heard a lot people crying, “Grazie.”
The verb translated, “compassion,” means to move in the inward parts. In other words, Jesus saw the desperation of the mother and he felt it with her. His stomach tightened and he acted in love.
When you see a person in distress and feel your inner self tighten in identity and sorrow with that person, then find some way to insert your presence and love into that person’s life. Jesus will be feeling the same thing and acting with you.
Joy to you –


E. Stanley Ott