Friday, December 31, 2010
Are you wearing that? The Emperors New Clothes and Speaking The Truth In Love.
Escape from Legalism.
Pushing Against The Tide. Living in a world where God is still in control.
I am doing this so I don't forget some ideas that I have had in the past week.
Monday, December 6, 2010
"Over half a century ago (in “The Laws of Nature,” 1945), C. S. Lewis asked readers to consider more carefully what we mean by the laws of physics. He noted that there are observed regularities in nature. If billiard ball A strikes billiard ball B in a certain way, then the second ball will move off at a predictable angle and rate of speed. But it was not any law of physics that set the second ball in motion; it was presumably the player who shot the first ball. As Lewis concludes, “In the whole history of the universe, the laws of Nature have never produced a single event” (God in the Dock, 77). "
“If you take nature as a teacher, it will teach you exactly the lessons you had already decided to learn.” (The Four Loves, p. 35).
Sunday, December 5, 2010
The ministry business was a trip to Manhattan to hear Karla Bauer in person. Earlier in the week, I had booked Karla to sing at the February 2011 Teens For Christ Rally. This was done after some correspondence with a friend who produced her two CDs and a long phone conversation with Karla. Her web site (www.karlabauer.com) made the decision process very easy to.
Over the years, I have made it a habit to travel all over Kansas, Nebraska and even Missouri looking for suitable talent to share at the Teens For Christ Rallies. Some trips have been very successful like the one on December 4th. Some trips were successful in the fact that I learned that the talent wanting to come to Concordia wasn’t suitable for our program.
On occasions, the talent knew that I was coming. Other times, no one had a clue that I would be there. No matter the situation though, I always walked away with a good idea if that person would be working with Teens For Christ.
Over the years, I have drove up to five hours to see a 15-30 minute presentation or concert by someone wanting to share at a Teens For Christ Rally. One time, I drove to Hays to see a music group. After watching their concert, I knew that we wouldn’t be a good fit. Condom and beer jokes were prevalent with this group of young men who thought by closing the concert with a Christian song that all would be well. Anyway, when the member in charge of the booking called me the next week, all I had to say was that I was at their concert in Hays and all I got in response was an “Oh.” He ended the conversation and never called again.
The reason that I write this is the fact that many times we schedule someone for a Teens For Christ Rally only to have someone inquire if the speaker, music group or movie is any good. I try hard not to roll my eyes or growl at the person. I even had a lady say to me in a church the morning after a concert, “If I would have known they were that good, I would have came last night.” I still shake my head at that and laugh.
After hosting over 300 Teens For Christ Rallies here in Concordia, I can say that we have had some that were a bit embarrassing due to the fact that the guest involved made some poor spiritual decisions later on in their life. Looking back over those 300 plus programs, I can say that we have had 5 or 6 programs where I have thought, “Why on earth did we do that?” So you can say that I have been pleased with 99.98% of our programs.
Why am I 99.98% with our programs? One reason is that I take the time to seek new talent out. If I don’t seek that talent out personally, I wind up relying on someone else whose opinion I trust totally.
Earlier in 2010, a person came up to me before a TFC Rally and told me someone wanted to be there that night to see if our rally speaker was good enough to have at their church sometime. I just smile and politely said, “If they are good enough for the TFC Rally, they are good enough for any church.” That simple answer wasn’t appreciated, but I felt the need to be honest.
I always like to apply what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;" – 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NASB) Today, my family got to be a part of that examination process. We are going to hold fast to Karla.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Tuesday morning, we woke up at the Otott house with no internet access. For many people, this wouldn’t be a major headache. We, however, have the Teens For Christ office in our home and internet connectivity is a major necessity in accomplishing much of our ministry business.
We have had this problem before and I knew what was wrong right away - our DSL modem was shot. So I checked with three different stores in Concordia. None of them had the item I needed. One of them did have some on order, but the need for it was now.
Since I was heading to Topeka for a night of ministry, I decided to drop down to Salina. The last time this happened, a place there had the part I needed. Guess what? They were sold out, but had 22 on order. Two other places in Salina didn’t have the needed part. It was time to move on down the road.
A phone call to a store in Junction City gave me hope. “Yes. We have DSL modems!” a young lady assured me. When I got to Junction City, the department manager said the young lady didn’t know what she was talking about and that they had been out of DSL modems for a week and none were slated to arrive soon.
A phone call to a store in Topeka was the last chance. The clerk told me he had one DSL modem left. I told him to please slap my name on it because I was just leaving Junction City headed his way. When I arrived, there was my DSL modem waiting for me!
After a good night of ministry in Topeka and a two hour and fifteen minute drive home, I plugged the DSL modem in and it worked! I had my connection! (This is pretty good for my track record. You can cheer now for my success.)
So what is the big deal? Most places I stopped at told me they didn’t have DSL modems. They were either sold out or didn’t carry them. At some places, even though I was specific in my request, the clerk would offer me a cable modem. That wouldn’t work. In order to have internet connectivity, I needed a DSL modem!
The same thing applies to every man, woman and child in having a right relationship with God. To connect with Him, we need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. No other option will give us that access with God. No other way will give us Eternal Life. Look at the following passage of Scripture:
"Jesus therefore said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." – John 10:7-11 (NASB)
I searched long and hard for that DSL modem on Tuesday. It wasn’t really a life or death activity. Searching for the right path to God, now that is an urgent affair. There is only One who can connect us to God and the big question of the day is: Are you searching for the right Jesus?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The world changed for one of us on Veteran’s Day 2010 when this extremely casual acquaintance was hit by a pickup truck as he was crossing U.S. 81 near Subway here in Concordia. I happened to just see him within 30 seconds of being hit on this dark, cold, rainy evening.
After hearing a lady cry out that someone had been hit, I turned from car as I was grabbing my Bible and another book to read as I had supper. Dropping the books on my car seat, I grabbed my fire radio after and called for Medic 1 as I trotted across the parking lot. This extremely casual acquaintance was a crumpled mass in the highway.
Looking down at lifeless eyes, I radioed for help again. I could hear the sirens, but scene safety as traffic was backing up became my priority. A lady reached in and felt for a pulse on his neck and announced that she felt one. The ambulance pulls up. I grabbed the long spine board and head blocks. Police cars pull up. Another EMT arrives. I unload the cot. He is loaded. I grab the IV kit for the Paramedic. We go Code Red to the hospital. Everything is a blur.
Later that evening, the extremely casual acquaintance is transferred to Wichita. I pray with the driver of the pickup. Life goes back to normal.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday pass. I wonder how the man is doing. People ask me. People call me. On Monday, I make a couple of calls to learn some and not very much. After the chaos of the event and the busyness of the weekend, that “still small voice” of First Kings 19:12 comes into play.
I head to Wichita. Not knowing what I will find. Not knowing what to do. I just head that way. Arriving at 7:30 p.m., I find the surgery waiting room. The name is proper and I wait. Wait some more. Someone checks back in surgery. Wait some more. The extremely casual acquaintance has been in surgery for a long, long time. I wait some more.
At 10:30 p.m., I make another phone call. A very friendly voice does some checking. She calls me back. She takes me to the Surgery Intensive Care Unit’s waiting room. We visit with the ward clerk. I leave to have supper. Nothing exciting is open in Wichita that late, so Denny’s it is. Yuck.
I return to SICU and am told to wait another 20 minutes. Back in the waiting room, I read in Mark about the Last Supper, the Arrest and the Trial of Jesus. I clear the Jehovah’s Witnesses material out of the waiting room.
I go back to the SICU and am directed to room 21. There I see the extremely casual acquaintance. He is on a ventilator. He is dead to this world. He is bruised. He is battered. He is a pin cushion of tubes and instruments. I visit with the nurse who is nice and polite. It is midnight. I leave a book, “More Than A Carpenter”. Looking back, I think that was dumb. I say a simple prayer. Looking back, that is all I could do.
The surgical team comes by and checks things over. I am not even a blip on their radar. I bid farewell to the nurse. Exchange a comment with the surgical team. Time to go home, it is 12:15. I think to myself that I will be in bed by 3:00.
Several times in visiting with Lisa that day, night and morning of a new day, the question comes up, “Was it worth it?” There is nothing to gain. No one would fault me for staying home. Most people would just turn away. For Lisa and me, one simple thing comes to our minds: “. . . I was sick, and you visited Me . . .” – see Matthew 25:35-46. That is what you do for an extremely casual acquaintance.
Friday, May 21, 2010
The process is now in play for Lisa and I to adopt our third child. Imagine, a couple who has been childless for the first 15 years of their marriage adopting a little girl who as I write this turns 20 months old today. This beautiful child has been with us off and on for the past 16 months of her life. Several times over those 16 months, we had to bid her farewell, never to know the next time we would get to see her. Today, she is home. “Nana” and “Papa” rejoice. “Nana” and “Papa” ponder the future.
As the legal hurdles begin that will end when a judge bangs the gavel and decrees the adoption finalized, changes will take place in the Otott home. Insurance needs to be reviewed. Work on a will must begin. Instead of the prospect of an empty nest in the year 2013, the nest will remain occupied until the year 2027 just before this writer’s 63rd birthday.
Do you realize how hard this is for the one who looks at things with sarcasm and biting skepticism? Oh, don’t worry, I am not feeling sorry for myself. At the moment, I am chuckling and shaking my head. Tomorrow, the sun will either shine or I will stand in the presence of my God and my King. If the sun shines, I will take what He directs my way. If I am standing before Him, then I will be a part of the “great cloud of witnesses”. Either way, I will live my Psalm 40 moment.
Will I be a good middle-age father? With the Lord’s help, I should pass the grade. The bigger question in the back of my mind is, “will I be a good father to my wayward child?” What some would say was her neediest moment, brought a helpless child into our home. Yet she still lives in her neediest moment, which can only be helped by the Heavenly Father.
So as you rejoice with us over the girl who is only 20 months old, please pray for the girl who is 22 years old.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you." - (1 John 3:13 KJV)
That is a true thing. If an unbelieving world hates the Christian, we should get over it. The big thing is not to confuse their dislike for our willingness to live the way Jesus Christ wants us to live to the air of superiority that many believers seem to have when dealing with the world. If the world hates us, it should be for the One who we follow completely and not for our rude behavior.
The other question that I always have to pose how are we to behave if it is not the world who hates us, but the religious ones who practice an attitude of judgment over other Christians. I guess if you were to add a phrase in 1 John 3:13 after the word you and before the period it would be this "... yet don't be surprised if the one who hates you goes to church." (Not tampering with Scripture here, just thinking out loud.)
I expect the world to hate me, I don't expect the church to. The world will hate me because I choose to follow the One who provides the only access to God (John 14:6). The church (religious) will hate me because of how long my hair is, what music I listen to, what books I read, and a long list of insert you favorite item here:____________.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Today, I lift up the men and women assembled here to conduct business on behalf of the people of the State of Kansas. Give them wisdom and insight to do the difficult job that must be done.
Your Word tells us that we will face difficulties and those difficulties can be met with faith in You as James wrote:
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:2-5 NASB)
The difficulties faced by this body of officials are many. Give them the wisdom only You can provide as You did for Solomon. Give them the sureness in their decisions they will need to weather the storms they will face in the gales of public opinion. Give them the strength they will need to stand up against the whims of special interest groups.
Give them the compassion needed to protect the Kansans who cannot defend themselves whether they are waiting to draw their first breath or are near the end of their final breath. Give them the determination to “bear the sword” of Romans 13 when called upon to protect the innocent and punish the guilty.
As this day of business begins, let them debate and let them reason in such a way that brings honor upon our republic. Let them lay aside the trials they face as individuals and let their focus be on their duties. Be with those who are facing problems known by all and be with those who have not let their needs be publicly known.
I ask for your blessing upon this body. I ask for your blessing upon the people they represent. I ask for your blessing upon the great State of Kansas.
All of these things I ask in the name of Your Risen Son, Jesus Christ! Amen!!
Monday, February 15, 2010
What is your relationship with books?
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t sit down and read from one of the two or three books that I am going through. At the moment, that includes the Bible which I keep in my car with one other primary book to read.
Do you read books (why or why not)?
Personal growth and enjoyment, reading is cheap and keeps my mind sharp. When I am reading challenging books on a daily basis, I find myself more creative. The emphasis is on challenging though.
How do you choose the books you read?
I subscribe to WORLD Magazine and they are always reviewing books. If I see something that catches my eye, I go to Amazon.com or CBD.com and put it on my wish list for the next round of ordering. I also pay attention to what two or three close friends are reading.
What books are transformative for you?
Of course the Bible, then history books and other theological works are always demanding my attention. Toss in a good techno-thriller or spy novel and I am a happy reader.
Would you read more books if you knew about recommended titles?
That doesn’t really apply to me. I read what I like and am always working on a book.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I am trying to figure out what logic to use when I am sharing prayer requests. Which ones need to go out to 500+ people and which ones to keep closer to home?
Via Facebook about 45 minutes ago, I learned that Kelsey Brown, a student at Pike Valley High School, was ejected from her pickup in accident. She has at least one broken vertebrae and some other injuries. At this moment (11:00 PM CST), she is on her way via ambulance from Belleville, KS, to Lincoln, NE, to Bryan-West Medical Center with her family following. Her mother told me that they are planning for surgery as soon as Kelsey arrives at the hospital. The good news is that she was talking with her family and wiggling her toes before the sedated her for the trip to Lincoln.
I have prayed with her mother, Dawn, and spoke with her brother, Alex. They both requested that I send out this prayer request. If you use Facebook, the link for a prayer group for Kelsey is at the end of this email. I have also included her brother’s email address, so you can let the family know that you are praying for them if you are not a Facebook user.
Updates on previous requests:
Jacqui Grim, YWAM-Ethiopia: I just spoke with her father Kirk. She is still running a fever and is in some pain. At the moment, she is not hospitalized but is waiting to see the doctor again. Please keep praying for her. One nice note is that I have two friends (hometown – Minneapolis, KS) in Addis Ababa who have been in touch with Jacqui’s parents via email. (How about that for a small world?)
Jim Douglass: I don’t have an update about Jim today. I did see him on the 13th. An x-ray earlier in that day indicated pneumonia in both lungs. When I saw him, he was watching the K-State basketball game with his sons and resting well.
Pray for me as I have a busy week of ministry. I will be in Topeka on Tuesday to minister at KJCC. On Wednesday, I will be speaking to a youth group in Belleville on false religions. Saturday is the TFC Rally with Eternity Focus. Throw in some hospital visits, research, reading, correspondence and other items and you can say that I will be rather occupied.
Thank you for your time. Please notify your church’s prayer chain about Kelsey Brown. Remember to click on the links below.
Thank you for lifting these requests up to the Lord! Take care and God Bless You.
Yours For Youth!
Kelsey Brown’s Facebook Prayer Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=308322529924&ref=mf#!/group.php?gid=308322529924
Alex Brown’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eternity Focus Facebook Event Page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=212902066841&index=1
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Earlier this evening, I received a phone call from my dear friend Michelle Grim. Michelle has been out here twice to speak at the Teens For Christ Rallies about the cult of Mormonism.
She called with two prayer requests. The main one concerns her daughter, Jackie (I know that is not the proper spelling,) who is in Ethiopia with Youth With A Mission. Jackie is serious ill with some sort of stomach parasite and was airlifted to the capital city, Addis Ababa, for medical treatment.
Jackie has lost nearly 20 pounds since being hospitalized and is not improving. Michelle’s husband, Kirk, is making plans to travel to Ethiopia to bring their daughter back to the United States.
Please pray for Jackie’s healing, safety and for the arrangements to get her back to the States. You can let Kirk and Michelle know that you are praying for them by emailing them at: email@example.com. You can even claim that you know me.
Due to the sensitive nature of Michelle’s work in counter cult ministry, I cannot share all of the details of the second request. It is a project that she has asked me to assist on concerning a ministry need in Alaska. Please pray for wisdom and guidance as she helps a community and the Christian congregations learn the truth about Mormonism.
You can also pray for one of our supporters, Jim Douglass, who is at Salina Regional Health Center with a very bad case of pneumonia. Jim and his wife Marilyn have been prayer partners and supporters of Teens For Christ for over 25 years. You can let them know that you are praying for them by emailing Jim and Marilyn at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for lifting up these special needs and for all the times you pray for Lisa and me. Take care and God Bless You!
Friday, February 12, 2010
This is my article that will appear in today's edition of the Concordia Blade-Empire.
Will You Die Without Jesus?
For the past couple of months, I have noticed an ad in the paper stating how many people die due to the lack of health insurance. I am not inclined to enter a debate on either side of this issue, especially since I don’t know the reasoning behind the daily advertisement. The advertisement does remind me of something else, though – everyone dies. With or without insurance, everyone will die. It doesn’t matter if you exercise daily or if you eat lard three times a day, you will die. The big question I haven’t seen many ads asking is this: Will you die without Jesus?
"And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." – Hebrews 9:27-28 (NASB)
In these two verses, we read that we have an appointment with death. For some of us, death will come after many years of life or a serious battle with a dreaded illness. Everyone will stand around the casket and say, “Well, it was his time.” For other people, death will come when no one is planning on it. Those are services filled with many tears and people saying, “This isn’t fair”.
For me, death will occur as one of “. . . those who eagerly await Him.” As a freshman in high school up at Belleville, one night at a church revival meeting, I responded to an invitation to trust Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Saviour. Death is still in my future, but eternal judgment has been removed from the picture.
What about you? Are you ready for your appointment with death? If not, you need the eternal life that Jesus Christ offers to those who make the decision to trust Him to be their Lord and Saviour. Swallow your pride. Admit you are a sinner. Turn your back on your sins. Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and invite Him into your heart. The premium has been paid. It is a free gift.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
It appears that 2010 will be my year for reading. That isn't really new for me, reading is always a major part of my life and ministry. This year, though, reading will be amped up to a new level.
One new item on my reading agenda is going through the Bible. At the moment, I have a copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible and I am reading it through for what I call "funzies". At the moment, I am in Numbers. I have had this translation laying around the house for the past six months and decided to put it to use even though I am a New American Standard guy with the King James near by. When I am done with the HCS, I will read through the English Standard Version.
I know that this is not an exciting first post. At least it is a post. More later.