Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stretcher Bearers

Building One Another -  Vol 13 No 3

Dear Friend,
I love this portion of the famous encounter between Jesus and a paralytic:
“Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.  When Jesus saw their faith…” He forgave the paralytic and healed him!  Mark 2:3-5*
It was my teacher, Chuck Miller, who opened my eyes to this text when he asked the simple question, “Who are the stretcher bearers in your life?”
Who are the people – when you are down – physically, emotionally, and spiritually or in any other way – who carry you into the presence of Jesus? Who will stop at nothing to lift you up? Whose faith Jesus sees – not even glancing at your own faith or lack of it in the moment – and raises you up? 
These are people to treasure. Consider who they are – and thank them. In turn be a stretcher-bearer to those people our Lord puts into your life! 

With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2014 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Purpose

Vol 13 No 2
Dear Friend,
The flow of events in the first chapter of Mark’s record of the life of Jesus sets up a remarkable statement by Jesus.
One evening the whole town of Capernaum seems to show up at the place Jesus is staying bringing their ill and suffering. Jesus heals and helps them in what had to be a long evening for him.
Yet he jumps up while it is still dark and goes to a quiet place to pray where his disciples eventually find him and say, in essence, “Come back to Capernaum, there are more sick people.”
You would think Jesus, given his compassion, would go back to town with them. Instead he says, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:38*
Now we see his heart of compassion because in the very next story in Mark we see Jesus heal a leper. However, we get the point. Jesus knew why he came, knew what he was about and understood his purpose.
Do you?
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26
With joy - E. Stanley OttCopyright 2014 E. Stanley Ott*Scripture from the NIV

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