Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Adventure


Building One Another - Vol. 13, No.1 
 
Dear Friend,
The news early Monday morning carried a report that the day is known as “Blue Monday,” the most depressing day of the year! After a bit of holiday down time, the ideas of reentering the rat race, missing loved ones, and the prospect of losing some holiday weight gain are not among our most motivational thoughts!

On the other hand, Jesus isn't a Blue Monday person! He cries, "follow me," and leads us in the adventure of a lifetime!

Many of our regular routines may be a bit on pause over the holidays. Now is a great time to clarify the rhythms of your life such as daily time with our Lord, weekly worship with God’s people, diet, exercise, fellowship gatherings, and other patterns that care the for body and soul.

This is an especially good time to renew your adventure with Jesus. I love the line from a song by Ken Medema and you can just hear Jesus singing it to you, “Come with me, walk with me, run with me, fly with me. We will roam the Father’s land together.”

Jesus’ heart’s desire is to refresh your heart and for you to experience the joy of merely being with him. “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11*

 
With Joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV
 
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Getting Ready


Building One Another -  Vol 12 No 28

Dear Friend,
A lot of the country has already experienced severe winter weather and the season is barely underway. How did you go about preparing for an event you knew was coming?
in getting ready for winter, my mind runs through a quick checklist.
               
                Are the hoses coiled and indoors?
               
                Are the outside faucets turned off?
               
                Has the deck furniture been stacked?
               
                Is salt or its equivalent ready in case of ice?
               
                Does the car have an ice scraper?
 The season before Christmas, known as Advent, is a season of preparation – a time of getting ready.
 So we have some version of another mental checklist.
                 Is my/our home decorated?                 Do we know what events I/we will attend or host?                 Have I/we obtained gifts for Christmas?

Advent is especially the time to prepare our hearts. “Let every heart prepare him room!”
Spend some time alone this busy season. Prepare yourself, get ready, to open your heart more widely to Jesus. Focus your mind on this Lord who loves you. Acknowledge and confess your sin and rely on our Lord’s forgiveness and cleansing. Formally offer room in your heart to him. 
Make Worship with God’s people a priority.  Allow the joyful music of the season and the power of our Lord’s Word to speak to your deepest heart – and share that heart with the Lord who shares his heart with you! 
“Come thou long expected Jesus” – E. Stanley OttCopyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving


Building One Another - Vol 12 No 27


Dear Friend,
“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1*
When you give thanks to the Lord, your mind shifts from the anxieties that so easily consume you to the loving Lord of the universe who loves to refresh you.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord.
The Psalmist tells us why, “For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy." Psalm 92:4
God loves to bring gladness into your life, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.” Psalm 16:9
The very act of thanks-giving brings gladness to the heart. 
This week I encourage you to be especially alert to the works of the Lord that have brought gladness into your life – be specific:           People who have brought you gladness,
                 Events that have brought you joy,                       Things that have brought you delight, and especially,                             God’s incredible love and affection for you,                                                                                         –and give thanks.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord!
With joy - E. Stanley OttCopyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott*Scripture from the NRSV

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Say Something


Building One Another - Vol 12 No 26


Dear Friend,


In the “theater mentality” of our day, we attend movies, sporting events, and other forms of entertainment, expecting only to experience something from the event. We speak to our close friends and pay no attention to other people though perhaps offering a brief nod.
Consider the guests who will attend a worship service you attend.  It’s an odd and lonely feeling to walk in to a church building for the first time while surrounded by a group of total strangers.
Yet guests come because they are accompanying members of their families or good friends. Other guests come out of some inner urge inspired by the God who loves them. 
For whatever reason they come, their presence is your opportunity to offer a warm welcome.
Have the grace and courage to say something to those who sit near you, who walk beside you.
Consider this:
When a woman approached Jesus sitting by a well, he spoke to her (John 4).
When Philip saw the Ethiopian in a chariot, he ran over to speak to him (Acts 8).
When Paul met some women who were praying by a river, he spoke to them (Acts 16)

When you attend a worship service, put on a “ministry mentality” and allow our Lord to encourage other people’s hearts through you, knowing He will encourage your heart as well.
Be alert to the people God places in your life -- especially this week – speak to them – say something!
On behalf of our Lord, be a host and welcome those who find their way into worship services as those venturing into unknown territory. All you have to say is, “Welcome, I am glad you are here,” and take it from there.
With joy - E. Stanley OttCopyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Lingering Meal


Building One Another -  Vol 12 No 25
Dear Friend, 
Do you eat your meals rapidly or do you take your time? Mealtime today is often something we rush through, an interruption between Activity A and Activity B.  For Jesus, mealtime was an Activity A all by itself. Jesus often ate with his disciples and with many others.
“Here a dinner [deipnon] was given in Jesus' honor.  Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.” John 12:2*
The Greek word deipnon is translated feast, banquet, supper, dinner.  Years ago I remember reading someone translate deipnon as “the lingering meal.”  It’s the opposite of “fast food!”
The deipnon was the main meal of the day and not just inserted between activities. It meant three things:  food, conversation, and lingering – and the food was secondary.  The primary function of the deipnon was to talk – to be "with" one another - to speak of what was happening in your lives and in the world around you.  
Furthermore, when we eat with fellow believers, our Lord joins us, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  Matthew 18:20
There are few more effective and delightful ways to grow relationships and to build people than to enjoy a deipnon, a lingering meal with them. When you eat, slow down and linger:                with anyone who lives in your home on a daily basis.                                with those who are already friends of your heart.                                                with those whom you would like to grow deeper in friendship.
One day you will share in the most wonderful lingering meal of them all: “Then the angel said to me, 'Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' ' And he added, 'These are the true words of God.'" Revelation 19:9
With joy - E. Stanley OttCopyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott*Scripture from the NIV

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Anointed Ones


Building One Another - Vol 12 No 24
Dear Friend,
A common practice we discover in the Bible is that of anointing. The physical act of anointing is to touch, smear, or pour oil or some other substance on a person. The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil to be king. I Samuel 16:13 Mary anointed Jesus with costly perfume. John 12:3
The word Christ as in Jesus Christ actually means “anointed.” Jesus is the Anointed One. He was baptized by John the Baptist, an anointing. The Holy Spirit settled upon Jesus as a dove, an anointing. Mary poured oil on his feet, an anointing. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”* Luke 4:18  
Here is a wonderful thought. Jesus, the Anointed One, anoints you! “But you have been anointed by the Holy One.” 1 John 2:20  “But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us.” 2 Corinthians 1:21 We see this clearly in the act of baptism, the water as the visible expression of the anointing presence of the Holy Spirit.
Three words help me remember the significance of anointing:  sign, seal, and sending.
A sign. As a sign an anointing is the visible expression of an invisible reality of love. When I kiss my grandchildren it is a sign of my love, a visible expression of my love. Through the anointing of your baptism, your Lord is saying to you, this is a sign that I love you. 
A seal. As a seal an anointing is a mark of belonging, of ownership. When you sign a legal document a person called a notary public puts a seal on the document to verify that the signature belongs to you. When you are baptized it is a sign that you are God’s beloved and it is also a seal marking you with the Holy Spirit as belonging to God.
A sending. The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil to be king and the Spirit of God came mightily on David. God had a mission in mind for David and God has a mission in mind for you in the power of the Spirit! Our Lord has shaped you for loving service and given his Spirit to sustain you.
In your anointing our Lord is saying, “By this sign I tell you I love you, by this seal I mark you as my own, and by this sending with the Spirit I have work for you to do!"
With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Quiet Time


Building One Another - Vol 12 No 23
Dear Friend,
As we launch into a new fall season it's time to ask ourselves, do we practice a Rule of Life that puts first things first?
Devotional writer E. Stanley Jones once told of being in the Himalayan Mountains. “One morning I arose at three o’clock, walked to a mountain peak in The Himalaya to see the sun rise on the most glorious panorama, I suppose, in the world. There as the day began to dawn, we saw arise before our enraptured gaze, within a complete semicircle, twenty peaks, each above twenty thousand feet in height, snow-capped with virgin snow. For half an hour the curtain was lifted and we inwardly worshipped. Then the mists began to fill the valleys between, and the view was gone. Gone? Forever laid up in our green and grateful memories. It was ours forever.
“That is what the Quiet Time does for you. You get up earlier before the mists of worldly happenings close your view of God… After the mists close in, the vision [of God] is there within. You live in two worlds at once. You are a two-dimensional person, drawing sustenance from a world around you to keep you going physically, and then drawing sustenance for God to keep you going spiritually, mentally, physically—totally.”[1]  
When we spend regular alone time with our Lord through prayer and Bible reading we enjoy the wonder of the God who loves us and we worship. Then we go about our day. As the mists of activity arise and demand our attention, seeming to obscure our view of God, we carry the memory of our meeting with God throughout the day. 
Decide when you will be with your Lord on a regular basis. First things first!
With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott

[1] E. Stanley Jones, How to be a Transformed Person, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1951), p. 275.