Friday, March 31, 2017

Jesus Says

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt


It is the simple truth that holds you together in the most complex situations. Not simplistic, but simple. The profound truth that the Bible gives us is like a warm blanket wrapped around us on a cold night.      Charles Swindoll 
Scripture tells us that Jesus is the truth that sets us free. This Truth is offered as Grace. God's love is greater than we can ever understand, and He delights in offering us freedom and eternal life. Through Jesus we are ransomed, rescued, and reconciled. Only Truth can do this.

[Jesus says] So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free. Yes, I realize that some of you are trying to kill me because My message does not find a place in your hearts. John 8:36-37 NLT

Both in word and deed, truth must dwell in our hearts, must become part of who we are, must be evidenced in our lives. Satan champions the weak and cheers the arrogant. Daily, believers find themselves taunted by the Deceiver, tricked by the Accuser. Only Truth can overpower evil.

READ John 8:31-38

consider this!

- In verse 32, what is the 'truth' Jesus references?

- What are the consequences of sin? Find a Scripture to support this.

- Does the world find Jesus' message in my heart?

Jesus, You are Perfect Truth that paid the price for my sins, finds me where I am, longs for a relationship with me. When the world captures my attention and lures me with its shiny gimmicks, my heart feels the emptiness. You give me the freedom to rise above, to soar on eagles' wings. Forgive my care-less heart. Amen. -dho


All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Christ is the Truth

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

 We cannot claim to know Christ and to honor Him if we refuse the path He calls us to follow. Erwin Raphael McManus from The Barbarian Way (p. 140)



Surrounded by words and voices that demand recognitions, we hear many messages. We must listen and discern which ones are truth. Many well-known celebrities promote literary works that represent partial truths yet greatly influence people. In the quest for intellectual pursuits, we compromise, we rationalize, we doubt. How can we know what is false and what is truth?

Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on  God...  2 John 1:9 The Message

Scripture warns that there will be false teaching. In our faithfulness to God, we must spend time in the Living Word, praying to the Holy One, listening for the Spirit of Truth. It is our journey with Christ, the learning to depend on Him, that gives us the strength and wisdom to know what is false and what is truth. We can trust in Christ.

READ 2 John 1:9-11

consider this!

- Think of at least 1 example of "false teaching" today.

- What are the partial truths dangerous?

- How dependent am I on Christ for wisdom?

Jesus, as we study about You, it is easy to see the many ways evil tried to attack You and Your ministry. As followers of You, we are often taunted by the evil one. Chaos and distractions and doubt come from the one who pursues us with false teachings. But You encourage me, shepherd me, grace me into truth and love. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Full Reward

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

Be with me in my silence and my speech, in my haste and in my leisure, in company and in solitude, in the freshness of morning and in the weariness of the evening; and give me grace at all times to rejoice in Thy mysterious companionship. John Baille
Loyalty is not valued much in society today. Both employees and employers make the choices that suit them best, give them the best financial outcomes. Rarely do we read of the reverse, as in decades past when loyalty was proven and respected. Our loyalty to God waives as we weigh possibility. Frequently we worry about how a circumstance impacts us, and less often we reflect on how a choice will effect our future.

Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 2 John 1:8 ESV

God never changes. Neither does His faithfulness to His children. In our faithfulness to growing a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, we find the desire to love and serve Him grows exponentially. God's promise to all believers is that we will be awarded our earned Service Rewards in Heaven. The more like Jesus we love each other, the greater our rewards. Loyalty to God matters.

READ 2 John 1:7-8

consider this!

- Describe a time you were deceived by a partial truth.

- Read Romans 6:20-23. How does this help us to understand God's rewards?

- How are my loyalty reward points looking?

God of mercy, God of grace: You give to us in every way, never leaving, never turning from us, never forgetting Your promises. I do just the opposite - taking but not sharing, searching but not finding satisfactions, remembering difficulty but forgetting Your goodness. I am humbled that You are a loyal companion to me, faithful and true. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Love Means...

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt


Our preciousness, uniqueness, and individuality are not given to us by those who meet us in clock-time - our brief chronological existence - but by the One who has chosen us with an everlasting love, a love that existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity.  Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved (p.51)



Tennyson's words I am a part of all that I have met still echo. We are the same, with our experiences mingling and mirroring and monitoring the experiences of those we meet. This is what Nouwen refers to as our brief chronological existence. Yet, more importantly, how do we live?

I can't tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth... Love means following His commandments, and His unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love... 2 John 1:4,6 The Message

The love John writes about is a holy love that God gives to us just because He chooses to love us. Mostly, our infinite minds cannot comprehend any person who would love us just as we are. God's generous love stands ready to shape us into more while we waiver casually in search of self. Truth calls us to conduct your lives in love!


consider this!

- Think about how consistently do I conduct my life in love?

- God's commandment is "to love". Was John teaching something new?

- Am I becoming "more"? Do I credit "clock-time" or Jesus time?

Lord, in our every day, the world influences me, tells me partial truths, places unworthy desires in my heart. The world calls and is unrelenting. But YOU - You whisper songs of mercy, show me Eternal Truth, embrace me with extravagant love. Why do I choose the world over You? Help me see the One who chooses me! Teach me to be diligent. Amen. -dho 

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~


Monday, March 27, 2017

Truth and Love

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt


Grace is... a burst of light in a room where everyone forgot it was dark. 
David Jeremiah, Captured by Light (p.12)




Jesus is truth and love personified. Because of who Christ is, we are redeemed and reconciled to the Father through Truth and Love, through Christ. The Absolute Truth and Divine Love comes to us freely and embraces us fully.

... Christ... be with us who live in truth and love.

When we live in truth and love, Grace pours over us. How easily this is taken for granted! We forget about grace, forget about the Source of grace, forget that we live in a world of darkness. Christ never forgets us, especially in the darkness. Christ is a burst of light.


consider this!

- What "truth" does Scripture reference?

- Am I aware that Christ abides with me?

- Do I really live in truth and love?

Jesus, undeserved grace pours over me bringing me into the Light everlasting. You abide with me every moment. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~


Sunday, March 26, 2017

4th Sunday of Lent - - Oneness with Christ - Guarded by Grace

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

Humanity is in the grip of an evil power, and we are helpless to free ourselves from bondage to that power by our own strength. The only one who can deliver us from it is Jesus Christ. Ray Stedman, Spiritual Warfare (p.41)

The power of evil is stronger than we are but not stronger than God. In fact, Scripture reminds us that God is greater than any power in the world. Unfortunately, all too often, we try to overcome evil by our own strength. We will always fail.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols.  1 John 5:21 NASB 

Anything that takes God's place in our hearts is an idol. We comfort ourselves by saying that these "idols" are nothing like the golden calf of the Old Testament; we are not melting gold, building a pagan god. The truth is ANYTHING that we allow to mean more to us than God is our idol. We surround ourselves with beautiful tokens of success, houses, cars, clothes, vacations, memberships, and more; we deny we feel empty. Lost in negative rhetoric and consumed by our personal opinions, we pretend to defend righteous living. We share about the mission trips we take and the foreign children in faraway orphanages we sponsor as if any part of missional living is our idea. God, forgive us; guard our hearts!

READ 1 John 5:21

consider this!

- What idols do I worship?

- How do I plan to "guard" my heart from these idols?

- Am I willing to place Jesus Christ at the center of my life?

Lord, I go along without thought to idols, thinking my gestures of love and service in Your name are enough. When I place time in the Living Word last in the day, when I place my desires ahead of another's needs, when I spend Your offering on tokens that will not bring me joy, when I take credit for the goodness and success that comes my way - I place my idols BEFORE You. Forgive my shallow, selfish ways. Guard my heart from the evil one. Guard me from myself. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Children of God

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

...It is not in daily sinning that the secret of humility is found, but rather in the position of dependence upon the grace of God. Andrew Murray, Humility (p. 71)

The commentary in the Life Application Bible reminds: There is no middle ground; people either belong to God and obey Him, or they live under Satan's control. As children of God, we choose to obey the Father; as disobedient children, we follow the evil one. Our  sinful nature threatens the desire for obedience. Grace redeems us.

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the power and control of the evil one. 1 John 5:19 NLT 

These verses in 1 John 5:16-20 compare our sinful nature, our inability to be sinfree, with the freedom of choice to deny Christ or apostasy. The Believer's confession of sin and desire to serve God brings forgiveness; however, the world denies Christ as Redeemer and follows Satan. Despite what the world would have us believe, evil is alive and active and is seeking those who would choose darkness and disobedience over light and grace.

READ 1 John 5:16-20

consider this!

- Contrast "darkness" and "disobedience with "light" and "obedience".

- What is apostasy?

- Whose child are you?

Father of Light, when my doubts try to conquer, send the Light! When darkness seems easier, send the Light! When disorder becomes routine, send the Light! When the Destroyer struggles to claim me, send the Light! Light and Grace, shine on me. Amen. -dho


All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~

Friday, March 24, 2017

Certainty in Christ

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

As fruit is the great proof of the true relation to Christ, so prayer is the proof of our relation to the Father. A fruitful abiding in the Son and prevailing prayer to the Father are the two great factors in the true Christian life. Andrew Murray, The True Vine (p. 143)


God's promise of eternal life through Jesus is certain, not just a hope but a truth. On this promise we can stand; we can know our future. And how will we demonstrate our certainty?

And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:15 ESV

Murray suggests that prayer is the proof of our certainty. Because we know Christ, we trust that He hears our prayers. God knows our hearts before we even speak, but He desires that we come to Him in worship and praise, with our needs and concerns. As we listen for His guidance in our lives, seek His wisdom for our actions, spend time with Him growing a more intimate relationship, we can be certain that He will respond to us.

READ 1 John 5:13-15

consider this!

- Where is the certainty of life"

- Do you KNOW Christ?

- If "fruitful abiding" and "prevailing prayer" mark the Christian life, what proof are you offering of your certainty?

Spirit of Truth, take the noise of the world away. In the moments of quiet, speak the truth of God to me. My prayers rise to the Love Most High. Your whispers return to me full of the certainty that Christ gives. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Choice for Life

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

Either God is right or the world is right. It cannot be both... Christianity is not merely a change in outward actions of a bit higher moral or ethical level. Christianity is a revolutionary change of government that results in a radical change in behavior. Ray Stedman, The Power of His Presence 

God presents the truth, then gives us a choice, choose Him or choose the world. Our choice of Christ goes beyond a verbal confession. After our words, our behavior defines us. As we seek a deeper relationship with God, our lives will evidence our testimony that we choose life!

This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in His Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life. 1 John 5:11-12 The Message 

READ 1 John 5:11-12 

consider this!

- When I survey my behavior, does it more often reflect the world or Christ?

- Describe "worldly behavior".

- What is my testimony?

God - Goodness and Grace are offered to me! Every day I am surrounded by the world but embraced by You. I choose Christ! I choose Life! As You draw near to me, I find a peace the world will never give. Amen. dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

God Testifies

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

God is love. His whole nature and perfection is love... Christ is the Son of God's love, the bearer, the revealer, the communicator of that love... The Holy Spirit is the spirit of love... Full salvation is perfect love. Andrew Murray, The True Vine (p.115)
In this world we rely on the testimony of witnesses when seeking to discover the truth. Courts and judges listen intently to these accounts. The Bible also provides us with a record of holy testimony regarding Jesus.

And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God's presence at Jesus' baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us. A triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion. All three in perfect agreement.  1John 5:6-8 The Message  

Christ is declared the Beloved Son of God, confirmed by the Spirit. God's testimony is further evidenced by Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. This is Perfect Love offered as full salvation for each of us.

READ 1 John 5:6-10

consider this!

- Who's testimony about Christ is greatest? (vs. 9)

- How do water, blood, spirit testify about Christ?

- What does my testimony say about Christ?

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, guard my heart from the powers of the world that pursue me. Forgive me when my actions do not bear witness to the holiness of Christ. Thank You for full salvation. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Eternal Significance

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

Though the devil would have us believe he is invincible, his cause has already been doomed by the cross. Ray Stedman from Spiritual Warfare (pg.50)

There are those who do not believe in evil or the devil or Satan even though the Bible speaks of it many times. There are those who do not believe that Jesus came to earth, fully human and fully God. There are those who do not believe Jesus is the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures. Does what we believe about Jesus really matter?

And the ones who win this battle against the world are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. 1John 5:5 NLT

Christ died on the cross for every one's sins. All our acts of disobedience nailed Him there. Christ redeems all who believe. Through His resurrection from the dead three days after the crucifixion, grace embraces us. Satan and his spirit-followers would have us discount this, even tries to discredit the Holy Scriptures. Only Perfect Love can offer Grace to us. The specifics about Jesus do matter. They carry an eternal significance!

READ 1 John 5:4-5

consider this!

- Using any translation of the Bible, find at least 3 references to evil

- Find at least 3 passages in the Scriptures that reference "trust"

- Is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Living Word?

Lord, I see evil in the world around me and experience the drama of evil in my life. Satan only offers disorder and chaos and destruction. Jesus, You give my soul peace that I cannot explain. You offer what the world cannot, you offer eternal life. I am trusting You to lead me through the darkness into the light along this earthly journey. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~

Monday, March 20, 2017

Disobedience

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

 The obedience that keeps His commandments becomes the outward expression of our love for God. Andrew Murray from A Life of Obedience

Disobedience starts all our problems. In the Garden, God creates everything that anyone could ever need. Only one thing God asks from Adam and Eve, "Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Disobedience ends the completeness of Eden.

Loving God means keeping His commandments... 
1 John 5:3 NLT

"Christ overcame disobedience and gives us the power to replace ours with His obedience." (Murray, A Life of Obedience, pg. 25)  Disciples are to strive for a life of true obedience to God but humankind struggles with rebellion. Christ's obedience to the Father's will, His obedience to the Cross, becomes our path to righteousness. This is the way God loves.

READ 1 John 5:1-3 

consider this!  

- Who is Jesus Christ?

- What is the root of sin?

- Can I show love to others without obedience to Christ?

Father, I know that without You sin rules. Obedience is a choice that I can make because Christ was obedient to the cross. I desire to be obedient to Your will for me. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~