Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Anticipation!

"See, I am coming soon; my reward is with Me, to repay according to everyone's work. 
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."


Advent Haiku

Beginning and end,
Jesus, Redeemer, and King,
 Coming again - Watch!

Donna Oswalt

Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th Sunday of Advent ~ Anticipation

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty.

In ancient Roman times, emblems of evergreens mean peace and joy and victory, while early Christians use these symbols to reflect that "Christ had entered the home." Now days, decorations of evergreen branches trim porches, mantles, and banisters; evergreen wreaths hang on windows, over fireplaces, outside doors. While these symbols reflect the celebration of the Advent season, this time of longing for the Messiah, the evergreens give continuous, unspoken reminders of God's endless mercy, everlasting life, eternal Hope. Since the first sin of mankind, throughout thousands of years, century after century, darkness waits for redemption, waits for the light that only Christ can reveal. Jesus' birth, rich with prophecy and promise, only unfolds part of God's Grace story. There is more, much more! This forgiven heart eagerly anticipates the conclusion of His story, the Second Advent of Christ, when Faithful and True returns for me. 

At Jesus' birth, Mary wraps Him in cloths and lays Him in a manger because there was not room for them in the inn. After Jesus' death, with permission from Pilate, a man called Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus from the cross and wraps it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. Coming from a virgin womb and wrapped in cloths, Immanuel becomes grace to harsh world, and when the cruelty of the people crucified Him, the Lamb of God, wrapped in linen cloths, lay in a virgin tomb. Politics and power, greed and guilt, denial and death will never define the immutable life of Jesus; instead, the Messiah's victory over death and promise to return for His people enlarge God's never-ending story of Grace. The promise of Christ's Second Advent fills the mind seeking wonder and hope, stills the heart living grief and fear, and thrills the soul knowing grace and peace. Earthly wrappings can never tell the whole story of Advent! 

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, 
and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, ... 
He is clothed with robe dipped in blood, 
and His names is called The Word of God... 
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 
"KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

Clothed with splendor and majesty, Christ will come again. Surrounded by angels, His glory will illumine space; there will be no more darkness. LORD OF LORDS, the title declaring Him Lord over all, reigns forever. Jesus Christ - the Light of the World, the Messiah, KING OF KINGS - now waits in Heaven until the holy appointed time. Jesus waits for us to call on His name, waits for us to cry out in need, waits for us to share His Love, waits for us to speak His name. Listen! Every day the Word of God quills the story of everlasting love and unfailing grace. Believe! Every day find Immanuel, God with us. Wait! Anticipate Advent every moment of your everyday. THIS is the Christmas Story! -dho



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Celebration!

Let every living, breathing creature praise GOD!
Hallelujah!
Psalm 150:6 The Message




Advent Haiku

Jesus, Holy One, 
Born to bring unending Grace,
God in us ~ Rejoice...

Donna Oswalt

Sunday, December 15, 2013

3rd Sunday of Advent ~ Celebration

When I discovered Your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart's delight,
for I bear Your name.

This 3rd Sunday in the Advent season sometimes is called "Gaudete Sunday" from the Latin meaning "rejoice". Others call this candle "joy", which is sometimes pink. Joy-full celebrations in the Christmas story show angels singing of great joy, shepherds telling with holy awe, wise men worshiping in humble adoration. The expectant waiting in Advent leads us to celebrate Christ as the Messiah, to seek Christ more every day, to know Jesus as our source of joy.

In Philippians 4:4, Paul reminds, "Rejoice in The Lord always, again, I will say rejoice!" The world continually bombards us with crisis and chaos, disappointment and doubt, fear and fatigue. The contrast between Paul's words and our realities appear to clash. How can we rejoice when difficult circumstances prevail, when constant hardship lingers? God's word provides His wisdom, reveals His promises, offers His hope. Reading and studying the Bible teaches us how to pray, who to love, and where to serve. We can only find real joy in Jesus.

In the Nativity, Hope comes quietly, Love comes small, Joy comes gently, but with the Crucifixion, Hope faints, Love chooses, and Joy weeps. These two events cannot be separated, the sweet and the bittersweet. The emotions born with Jesus' coming crash into the harsh realities of the cross; the Messiah comes because the world needs Grace. With His Resurrection, Hope shouts, Love lives, and Joy reigns! Through Grace, Christ brings us abundant joy. God's word instructs us, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you." [Colossians 3:16] Discover and devour God's word. Then, and only then, can we Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him. -dho


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Incarnation!

"I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, 
when you saw a sister without friends, 
when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, 
you ignored Me."
Matthew 25:45 The Voice





Advent Haiku

Perfect Love, Holy
One, Grace and Truth, Infinite
and Incarnate, dwell...

Donna Oswalt

Sunday, December 08, 2013

2nd Sunday of Advent ~ Incarnation

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, 
and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, 
full of grace and truth.

The season of Advent, meaning "to come," finds us waiting to celebrate - once again - the arrival of the baby Jesus on Christmas. This promise of the Messiah spans generations, but when He does arrive, the first Advent, it changes everything. Tender manger scenes contrast the glorious angels singing. From the moment Truth enters human history, the story celebrated becomes Jesus loving us with compassion and tenderness while all of heaven celebrates Perfect Love. We light the second candle today to celebrate with all of heaven that salvation for mankind comes into the world, comes for us. From before time until time to come, God envelops us with love.

Incarnation describes God's glory dwelling with His people. In the Old Testament, God's Glory, His shekinah, represents His presence in the tabernacle. John introduces Jesus as the Word that becomes flesh and dwells with the people. He is both holy and human, infinite and incarnate. Jesus manifests God's Glory on earth and desires an everlasting relationship with us. Grace comes through Jesus Christ, chooses us, calls us, completes us. 

Throughout this week, let your spiritual celebration retrace the Incarnation. When Jesus becomes human and makes His home among us, remember the Bethlehem crowds leave no room for Jesus. After all those years of waiting for the Messiah, into the hurried, overflowing, populous Bethlehem, Grace simply comes. Today's world is no less hectic, occupied or crammed with busy. Does your life leave room for Jesus? Have you found Jesus in your Bethlehem? Know the unmeasured Grace and faithfulness of Perfect Love when you invite Jesus to dwell in your tabernacle. It changes everything! Love! ~dho


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Expectation!

There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David,
another fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile,
and yet another fourteen from the Babylonian exile to Christ.



Advent Haiku

Expecting, waiting
Infinite love, embrace me,
Emmanuel, come. . .  

Donna Oswalt



Sunday, December 01, 2013

1st Sunday of Advent ~ Expectation

For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Advent offers us time to refocus on the promise, birth, redemption, and return of Christ. The Christmas season brings lights and gifts, love and joy; it retells the stories of prophets and angels, shepherds and magi, Mary and Jesus. All the wonders of Christmas open our imaginations to promises and possibilities. From before time until time to come, God embraces us with hope.

During Advent, we light four candles, one each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Some say they symbolize the four centuries of waiting, of silence between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. Some name them hope, love, joy, and peace, while others remember prophets, Bethlehem, shepherds, and angels. What we call them is not so important. How we spend these four weeks IS! This journey of spiritual celebration begins with understanding God's infinite love and His desire for each one to experience everlasting life.

This week celebrate expectation as you consider God's magnificent plan to bring reconciliation to His people. After God creates mankind, the history of rebellion begins. From the beginning, God recognizes the spiritual needs of people and promises Jesus. Prophets foretell of His coming throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, John the Baptist fulfills OT prophecy and introduces Jesus.  Remember the thousands of years of endings and new beginnings, the thousands of years of waiting, the thousands of years of hope. Begin today, to seek the possibilities of God, to see endings as opportunities for God to bring new beginnings. Hope! ~ dho


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Promises of Thanksgiving ~ Creator, Deliverer, Redeemer ~ Part 2

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever.  Psalm 136:1

Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

While Hallelujah occurs many times in the Old Testament, according to Bible scholars, "Hallelujah" is used only 4 times in the New Testament and all can be found in Revelation chapter 19. Over the many centuries, time and time again, God's love replenishes His people. References to God as "Almighty" appear 9 times in the book of Revelation. The Hebrew title for God, El Shaddai, God Almighty, reminds us that God is sovereign, all-sufficient and all powerful. To the Creator: Give thanks to the God of heaven; His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:26)

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast 
of rich foods for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine - 
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

The words of the Great Hallel (Psalm 136), which the Jewish people traditionally sing at Passover, likely fill the Upper Room at the Last Supper. With Jesus' obedience to death in Crucifixion and power over death in Resurrection, Grace rebirths us, gives us new life in Christ. No longer does homelessness or injustice define our destiny; rather, our inheritance comes from God Almighty - the One who remembers us, who chooses us. Christ, our Deliverer, invites each of us to the wedding supper, to His feast, to a future in Him. Give thanks to the God of heaven; His love endures forever.   

... Blessed are those who are invited to 
the wedding supper of the Lamb! 

God Almighty reigns! This feast will begin the celebration of Christ's Promise to return for His people. Hallelujahs rise! Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! From prophecy to testimony, Jesus reveals God's plan of eternal redemption. Our Redeemer lives! Perhaps as Christians gather around the banquet table at the wedding supper of the Lamb, we, too, will sing the Great Hallel and in unison respond: His love endures forever. 

This Thanksgiving, let our celebrations sing Hallelujah! In one chapter of his book Finding God in Unexpected Places, Philip Yancey contrasts Genesis with Revelation, the garden with the New Jerusalem, and he writes, "We live out our days between memory and foretaste." In our hallelujahs we linger in remembrance of God's indescribable gift and wait with joy for the wedding supper of the Lamb! RSVP @ Romans 10:9-12. Infinite Love never ends! ~ dho

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Promises of Thanksgiving ~ Creator, Deliverer, Redeemer ~ Part 1

Give thanks to the LORD, because He is good. His faithful love endures forever. 
 Psalm 136:1

Most of the Psalms were composed for times of worship, for singing and praising God. Psalm 136, called the Great Hallel, highlights the history of God as Creator of the world and Redeemer of Israel in the Old Testament. Traditionally, this Psalm is read at the end of the Passover supper, with its repetitive responses acknowledging God's power and protection, affirming God's promise and provision. His faithful love endures forever. 

As Creator, Deliverer, and Redeemer, God's faithfulness captures the focus of the people of Israel. Jehovah deserves hallelujahs. His power throughout creation marvels, His protection throughout uncertainty conquers, His promise throughout generations remains, His provision throughout eternity reigns. Surrounded by God's goodness, the people find their hearts overflowing with praise to God. His faithful love endures forever. 

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let's remember God's goodness. The beauty of creation and the certainty of God calls us to our knees. The Bread of Life sustains us now and prepares us for the wedding supper of the Lamb. Redeemed by grace, our hearts explode with hallelujahs! Infinite love never ends. ~ dho

[hallel, Hebrew for 'praise']

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jesus, Friend of Mine ~ Series on Friendship

"... Now, you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me." 

When I began this "Series on Friendship" in May, I did not expect it to go for seven months, but then God's ways frequently exceed my understanding. There are a multitude of ways to tell about God's offering of friendship to us, of how we are to be friends to others in His name. I do not suggest that these last months have exhausted the topic; however, I sense the series coming to an end. This last story is personal, a story of how God orchestrates all things, even the smallest detail, revealing what is necessary as He continually gathers each of us into His Love. A time of unfolding.

In November, 1989, my parents come to visit us in Ohio; my father never leaves. During this time, he suffers a seizure that reveals a more grave health issue. My father is diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to the brain and other areas throughout his body. His prognosis gives him six months to live. Because of the medical care we could provide and the assistance that he would need, he agrees to stay in Ohio. At first, he seems fine. A series of palliative radiation treatments to his brain did cause some hair loss, but even at Christmas he remains strong. A time to breathe.

One day he tells me about a song that he wants to have at his funeral. I make a mental note and assure him I will do this. As expected, his health declines over the next few months. Weakness and some confusion lead to decreased activity and responsiveness. On May 10, 1990, we celebrate his 70th birthday, which I believe is more for us than him. May 20, 1990, daddy dies. At his service, the song I prearranged with the funeral home plays. The next couple of months pass quietly, with remembrances and reflections of time together. Despite the difficulties, this season has been full of laughter and honesty, joy and truth, tears and hugs. A time to cherish.

In August of that year, I take my daughter to Mississippi for a few weeks to visit family and friends. For some reason I need to go back to my heart's home. On Sunday morning I rest in my home church, this church whose familiar walls witnessed so many spiritual moments for me. We stand to sing the benediction, softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me. Tears rush forward, my heart is beating so fast. Come home, come home; you who are weary come home. Thoughts are pounding inside my head. Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home! THIS is the song my daddy had asked me to have played at his funeral. How could I have made such a mistake! I realize that the song played at his funeral was the wrong song! A time of regret.

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus" had never been a favorite of mine and was not the song my father requested; yet, that was the song played. I confess my disappointment in forgetting the one thing he asked. For a number of years, every time I would hear what A Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins a griefs to bear I immediately felt remorse. Ironically, its humdrum tune gradually captures my attention; its words emphasize our privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. With each line ending in prayer or some common word that rhymes with prayer, its simplicity begins to teach me about what peace we often forfeit and what needless pain we bear when we neglect prayer. Weaving trials and temptations with refuge and solace stands the Weaver, Precious Savior. Throughout the hymn a theme evolves. Jesus knows our every weakness; in His arms He'll take and shield you if we will simply take it to the Lord in prayer. The greatest promise lies within the rhetorical asking can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus is our most faithful Friend. A time of growing.

In the fall of 2005, I am sitting at a women's conference at Trinity on the Hill UMC in Augusta, GA, listening to Amy Breitmann, talk about The Lydia Project, of which she is Co-Founder. Then I hear what a Friend we have in Jesus. As the song continues, the presence of the Holy Spirit seems to cover me and overwhelms my heart. In this moment my soul hears holy whispers this song was not a mistake; this song was for you! All those years ago, God had chosen this simple song ~ for me. Knowing all my needs, He kept reminding me to bring all my troubles, all my disappointments, all my weaknesses to Him. Jesus kept proclaiming His friendship, weaving simple words and rhyme into teachings about prayer and promises. Jesus is a Friend of mine! A time of healing.

Blessed Savior, Thy mercies how tender, how firm til the end; our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend. Faithful Friend, hear my prayers of praise and petitions of pain. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. ~ dho

God orchestrates all things, even the smallest detail, revealing what is necessary as He continually gathers each of us into His Love. Donna Oswalt

Jesus kept proclaiming His friendship, weaving simple words and rhyme into teachings about prayer and promises. Jesus is a Friend of mine! A time of healing. Donna Oswalt

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Spirit of God

You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ 

by the wind of God, the Spirit of God. 

John 3:8 (The Message)




Holy Wind

A mighty gust, some gentle breezes,
Either blows wherever it pleases.
In silence passing, roaring through,
Hidden still, this Wind chooses you,

From south to north or west to east,
From weak to strong or more to least,
Invisible, with power to
Break and mend, this Wind comes to you.

Quietly with intense yearning,
The Wind flames a fire burning
Within the soul, consuming dross
That calls repentance to the cross.

From south to north or west to east,
From weak to strong or more to least,
This Perfect Love endures each nail
Which reconciles and rends the veil.

Infinitely bolder than deep,
Broader than wide, higher than steep,
Holy Wind, hold each empty place,
Mend my soul with marvelous Grace.
 
~Donna Oswalt


Spirit of God,
Despite my sin - resume the call – define my heart!
Delight my mind – assume my sin – design my life!
Ignite the fire - consume the dross - refine my soul!
Invisible and Indescribable and Invincible! Take me now!
 ~dho

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Piece by Piece by PEACE

To choose life is to love the LORD your God, obey Him and stay close to Him. He is your life... Be strong and brave. Don't be afraid... don't be frightened, because the LORD your God will go with you.  He will not leave you or forget you...The LORD himself will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forget you. Don't be afraid and don't worry. 

on our knees ~ 
We speak the Hebrew word Yahweh because it is Your covenant name, and we have study Your promises to the descendants of Abraham.  The ancient words recorded centuries before tell the story of humankind and all its frailties.  Words translated from Hebrew tell of Moses and his obedience, tell how You always went before them, preparing the way.  

We call, LORD, because there are promises for us.  The ancient words tell a living story of love and sacrifice and redemption; they tell of a new covenant ~ Christ.  We choose life!  Now, as then, You go before us, preparing the way.

We whisper, Adonai, for You are Lord; You are Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  You are both hope and light. Your Spirit dwells within us. Lord, only through You can we be strong and brave. We long to firmly embrace You. The world entices us, even when we try to draw near to You. Sometimes our journey is not clear, the path uneven, our steps uncertain. When we cannot see, help us remember the ancient words, the living words: The LORD himself will go before you. You are the Promise that chooses us; You are the Love that embraces us. Lord, hear our simple prayers.  Amen. ~dho

When we cannot see, help us remember the ancient words, the living words: The LORD himself will go before you.  Donna Oswalt
You are the Promise that chooses us; You are the Love that embraces us. Donna Oswalt

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest Blogger!

Thank you, Christian EBooks Today for allowing me to be your guest blogger!

Listening to God's Voice ~ Donna Oswalt - click click here to read! to read!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Greatest Friendship! ~ Series on Friendship

Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:7-8 NLT



During the Greco-Roman times that Jesus teaches about loving, forgiving and serving others, genuine sacrifice of one's life for another is as rare as the concept of "a good man". This kind of heroic act would not be common, and for the Jewish people, this kind of offering would not be praised. When the Greeks talk about enemies becoming friends after some conflict, these conversations stay within the context of individuals and certainly did not include God. Jesus enters this culture, introduces the idea of reconciliation between a person and God, and offers His own relationship with God, the Father, as an example of divine fellowship. Jesus says, I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love.

Jesus not only describes the blessings of fellowship with God but willing lays down His own life for His friends. As Jesus tells the Disciples, There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends, He knows that in a few hours He will live out these words. But for whom? What friends? For those who beat Him and those who nail Him to the cross, for those who watch and mock, for those who fled in fear and hide, for those barter for His robe, for the liars and hypocrites, for the selfish and greedy, for the lazy and defiant, for the sick - the weak - the poor, for the healthy - the strong - the rich, for the leaders and the followers, the merchants and the farmers, the scholars and the students, for those who steal and murder and commit adultery, for those who hate and those who pretend not to care, for those who smile and pretend not to grieve, for the hopeless and helpless, the homeless, the orphan, the widow, for the elderly, for the children...for those then and those to come, for you...for me! 

Dying for someone upstanding or even good remains a rare, heroic act. Perfect Love lay down His life for the unworthy, the unclean, the sinner, the shunned. No person is worthy of such love, but Jesus chooses us. When Grace meets the enemy, possibilities are endless. This holy relationship can exceed all expectations. Grace invites each of us, I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in My love. This is the greatest Friendship! ~dho

 No person is worthy of such love, but Jesus chooses us. Donna Oswalt

When Grace meets the enemy, possibilities are endless. Donna Oswalt

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Divided Loyalty ~ Series on Friendship

You are My friends, if you do what I command you... I have made known to you everything 
that I have heard from My Father." John 15:14-15 NRSV



In the early first century, Roman emperors expect the people to declare their loyalty to Caesar  acknowledging him as the supreme power. This annual public declaration of loyalty requires every citizen to place an offering on the altar saying, "Caesar is Lord!" Those who refuse, such as Christians who profess their loyalty to Christ, are frequently mocked, arrested, tortured and killed. Under Nero, one of the cruelest Roman emperors, Peter and Paul are put to death, crucified upside down and beheaded respectively, for spreading the Gospel message. The message of the Jesus-followers explains there is a kingdom greater than Rome, directly in opposition to the Roman world view. 

Everyday, the outward expressions of our values conjoin with our commitments to demonstrate where our deepest loyalty lies. When material possessions, political affiliations, and social rankings become priorities, when want replaces need, when spiritual riches dwindle, divided loyalty exposes us. The very first of the Ten Commandments clarifies, "You shall have no other gods before Me." Jesus tells us, "No one can serve two masters for either he will hate one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other." In another lesson, Jesus reminds that just like you can identify a tree by its fruit, you can identify people by their actions. Loyalty becomes the fruit of our fellowship. 

The Old Testament uses the word hesed for loyalty 249 times, and according to Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary it "is one of the richest, most theologically insightful terms in the OT," Meaning "unfailing love, kindness and devotion," this kind of loyalty usually grows within a relationship, often in a covenant relationship. A covenant relationship involves a promise or vow, whether between God and a person or between individuals.When we enter into a covenant relationship with God, His divine, everlasting promises of reconciliation with Him and victory over sin lavish us with Grace. Remaining in fellowship with God develops our spiritual understanding of trusting Him. This trust blossoms into love evidenced in our lives - in our relationships. The Kingdom of God is greater than Rome, greater than the world, greater than this universe. Does your public declaration of loyalty declare "Jesus is Lord" of my life, my everyday, my every moment? ~ dho

Everyday, the outward expressions of our values conjoin with our commitments to demonstrate where our deepest loyalty lies. Donna Oswalt

Loyalty becomes the fruit of our fellowship. Donna Oswalt

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Loyal Friends ~ Series on Friendship

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. 


December 1963
Every autumn, every year, my heart remembers a time of personal and spiritual growth. After a brain tumor surgery, my grandmother retains her abilities to comprehend situations, but can no longer verbally express herself. Recalling the summer of 1974 finds me thankful for these last months of sharing, both through tears and gestures, but always laughter was louder. Reflections of my paternal grandmother's last stage of living always bring to mind an unusual demonstration of friendship. Her friend remains faceless to me. She's just a name that I heard from time to time over the years. And, just as mysteriously, for nearly 5 months, a red rose arrived each day.


A Remnant of Love

Once long, long ago, who knows just when,
            Greetings were exchanged.
Neighbors for a while, some say, these two
            Strangers became friends.
Conversations of yester-year gone
            And unrecorded,
How I wish I could go back in time
            To find the secret
Of such enduring friendship, a gift
            Of the heart for life . . .

Sunny skies and death, together, cast down
            Shadows on my soul.
Precious as gold, time seemed all too short;
            She would soon be gone.
Silent tears of helplessness inside;
            Laughter was louder.
Old stories retold became treasures,
            Priceless memories.

Although miles and miles apart, friendship
            Did not notice, and
Always, a token of remembrance
            Was placed by her side.
Gentle reminder, gesture of love,
            Each day one red rose.
Only once did she speak to me of
            Death, my constant thought.
Relentless, calloused foe of mortal
            Life claimed her spirit . . .

Her body lay empty beneath a
            Blanket of roses.
I stood beside her grave in sorrow
            For my loss; I wept.
I remember taking one red rose,
            A final farewell.
For me it was a symbol of her
            Friend’s tender heart,
Of such enduring friendship, a gift,
            A remnant of love.

Although more than a decade has passed,
             I still think of her.
Those priceless memories come to mind
            As if time stood still.
Each year when autumn breezes whisper,
            Tears seek revival.
Beneath the sadness I remember
            Laughter was louder.

And my heart is blessed as I recall
            Her final months, when
Always, a token of remembrance
            Was placed by her side.
Gentle reminder, gesture of love,
            Each day one red rose.
How I wish I could go back in time
            To find the secret
Of their enduring friendship, a gift 
Of the heart for life.
(written 1987, Donna Oswalt)

I wrote this poem more than a decade after her death, words eluding my emotions until then. And still, when I think of such friendship, the best definition I can think of is "each day one red rose." What an amazing heart-gift! What a demonstration of love and loyalty! The Life Application Study Bible says, "The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty." Over nearly four decades later, I have learned this kind of friendship is extremely rare.

God never asks us to do something without having demonstrated it Himself. Jesus tells us to love one another and demonstrates this rare kind of love with His life, death and resurrection. By definition loyalty manifests itself by devotion, honesty, sincerity and support.God models His loyalty to us though His constancy, incorruptibility, steadfastness, and truth. Genuine relationships understand the value of sharing life events; to remember the beginnings, to treasure the laughter, to honor the celebrations, to bear the disappointments, to endure the ordinary, and to love through the endings. God promises to love forever! 

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT) God's love is much more than a token of remembrance or a gesture of love. Christ's unmatched sacrifice becomes God's matchless grace. This holy gift of enduring friendship redefines loyalty's unfailing love as Perfect Love. I have learned this friendship is the rarest of all! ~ dho


Genuine relationships understand the value of sharing life events, to remember the beginnings, to treasure the laughter, to honor the celebrations, to bear the disappoint-ments, to endure the ordinary, and to love through the endings. Donna Oswalt

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT

Thursday, October 03, 2013

For Friendship's Sake ~ Series on Friendship

Then David said, "Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" . . . "Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?" 2 Samuel 9

One of the most familiar stories of friendship in the Bible describes the enduring bond between David and Jonathan. Upon meeting they recognize an immediate soul-connection, for their friendship finds its foundations in commitment to God. Nothing destroys this friendship, not family drama, not political implications, not territorial battles. These many testings strengthen this God-chosen friendship. A promise of friendship before God endures difficulties.

A lesser known event happens many years later, after King Saul and his son Jonathan die in battle and David, the Lord's anointed one, becomes King of Israel. David remembers his vow of friendship with Jonathan, "The two of us have vowed friendship in GOD's name, saying, 'GOD will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!' " For friendship's sake, in honor of Jonathan, David seeks to find anyone left in this family and desires to show God's kindness to them. Mephibosheth [meh-fib-o-sheth], Jonathan's son, cripple in both feet, is found and brought to King David. Calming Mephibosheth's worries, David tells him, "I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly." From living as an exile as the defeated enemy to becoming like family at the King's table, Mephibosheth's abundant blessings find their roots in faithfulness to a promise! 

God invites everyone to come and sit at His Table regularly, especially those of us who feel unworthy. Communion with God is more than reading the Bible with a cup of coffee, more than bread and wine. This intensely intimate relationship requires me to share heart, mind, and soul in the presence of God. At His Table, all my starvings find nourishment. The abundant blessings that flow over me find their roots in God's faithfulness, in God's promise of redemption, in grace through Jesus, the Promised Messiah. God's Promise is an everlasting covenant of friendship. For Friendship's sake, in honor of Jesus, God says, Come and eat at My table regularly. ~ dho


From living as an exile as the defeated enemy to becoming like family at the King's table, Mephibosheth's abundant blessings find their roots in faithfulness to a promise! Donna Oswalt

 At His Table, all my starvings find nourishment. Donna Oswalt

For Friendship's sake, in honor of Jesus, God says, "Come and eat at My table regularly." Donna Oswalt

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Divine Unity ~ Series on Friendship

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV

The early church gave priority to fellowship (Acts 2:42) along with teaching and prayer. Fellowship within a community of Believers exemplifies sharing life together within a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Message uses "intimate friendship" in reference to fellowship. This common unity strengthens and encourages discipleship; this Divine fellowship binds disciples to Christ and to each other. Being in partnership with Christ, needs and resources merge with common purpose.

Paul uses the Greek word koinonia in his letters multiple times, defining this Divine Unity as fellowship, sharing, and partnership combined with offering encouragement, compassion, and mutual respect in the name of Jesus. In studying this Scripture, Paul's benediction with references to all persons of the Trinity creates a complete picture of Perfect love and peace. The grace that Christ gives originates from the Father's love, and the Holy Spirit dwells within each Believer. Individual but inseparable, Divine Unity embodies our spirits, embraces our lives, and empowers our deeds. This evolving holy and intimate friendship restores and refines our mutual relationships with each other and the Lord. ~ dho


Being in partnership with Christ, needs and resources merge with common purpose. Donna Oswalt

Individual but inseparable, Divine Unity embodies our spirits, embraces our lives, and empowers our deeds. Donna Oswalt

This evolving holy and intimate friendship restores and refines our mutual relationships with each other and the Lord. Donna Oswalt