Friday, December 31, 2010

Sermon Ideas for 2011

What is your name? Revisiting Roots.

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

Billiards with C.S. Lewis

It doesn't take much to make my brain hurt. I came across this C.S. Lewis blog today and some quotes jumped off the page. The whole article is a good one to read. It was so good, I had to read it a couple of times to soak it in. I know I will return to it o.

"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).

Our New Friend

Check out Karla Bauer's website. She will share with us at the February Teens For Christ Rally.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seeking Out That Which Is Good

I am wrapping up my day here in Concordia. We have had a long day where we included a family outing with ministry business. It was both fun and very encouraging.

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 ( 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

Looking For The Right Connection

(The following is my article for Church Page article that appears in the Concordia Blade-Empire. It will be printed on 12/03/2010.)

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?