Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day ~ 2008

Affirmation of Faith on this Holy day

I believe that Christmas is more than a time for parties and ornaments; it is a time for remembering Christ and the incarnation of God's love in human flesh.
I believe there are gifts more important than the ones under the Christmas tree, such as the things we teach our children, the way we share ourselves with friends, and the industry with which we set about reshaping the world in our time.
I believe that the finest carols are often sung by ordinary voices, from hearts made warm by the wonder of the season.
I believe in the angels' message that we should not be afraid - that the Child of Bethlehem is able to overcome all anxieties and insecurities.
I believe in prayer and quietness as a way of approaching Christmas - that if I wait in silence I will experience the presence of the One born in the stable, for He lives today as surely as He lived then.
I believe in going away from Christmas as the wise men went - "another way." I want to be different when these days are past - more centered on Christ, more thoughtful, more caring.

sent to me on angel-wings ~ unknown author

Monday, December 15, 2008

Embrace Obedience

We have been studying the first 2 chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses' review of God's Provision for the Israelites in route to their Promised Land. Surprisingly, they reach the border of the promised destination only to hesitate, doubt and rebel. Left wandering in the wilderness for forty years, the time is now here. Moses records his reminders to them before they enter Canaan, the land promised Abraham.

Deuteronomy is divided into 4 sections: Provision - Obedience - Commitment - Leadership. The previous devotions examine ~ Provision. Continuing, an overview of the next section finds Moses giving a refresher course on the Lord's Commands (the Law) and the need for obedience.

Read Deuteronomy 8:1-9:6 (complete text on obedience - Deut. 4:44-28:68)

. . . Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would really obey His commands. . . He did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on every word of the LORD. . . Today you are about to cross the Jordan River to occupy the land belonging to nations much greater and more powerful than you. . .
I will say it again: The LORD your God is not giving you this good land because you are righteous, for you are not - you are a stubborn people.

The Promised Land lay before them but would require obedience to enter. Once before they stood on the threshold of this God-offered possibility, but refused to go forward. Andrew Murray writes (in his book A Life of Obedience; p.69-70): The land of promise that has been set before us is the blessed life of obedience. We have heard God's call to us to go out and to dwell there . . . We have heard the promise of Christ to bring us there and to give us possession of the land. . . But do we desire that all our life and work be lifted to the level of a holy and joyful obedience?

A desire to be obedient is not the same as being obedient. Murray continues with this response to how we must embrace obedience: It can only be reached by an inflow of the power of the Holy Spirit. By a faith that grasps a new vision and lays hold of the powers. . . which are secured to us in Christ. How does Abraham respond when God first gives the promise? By faith Abraham obeyed . . . And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (see Hebrews 11:8). Through faith, we find obedience that grasps a new vision. Our ability to be obedient comes from Christ, the Bread of Life.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 describes God's expectations: And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires you to fear Him, to live according to His will, to love and worship Him with your heart and soul, and to obey the LORD's commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good.

Consider this!
  • What faith challenges did the Israelites face as they entered their land of promise?
  • If you embrace obedience, what hope waits in your land of promise?
  • What is required to experience "real life"?

Lord, You call us to new hope within a world of old doubt. You offer the Bread of Life to a starving people. You secure our faith through the living Christ. And what do You ask of us? To love You with obedient hearts. Forgive our greed for the land of promise held tightly by selfish desires. Open our hearts to "real life" so we can embrace the blessed life of obedience. Amen. ~ dho

Monday, December 01, 2008

Preparation and Promise

Deuteronomy Chapter 2 begins Israel's return to the wilderness, with God's instructions leading them. Because of their disobedience, the journey to the Promised Land ultimately takes another thirty-eight years. These chosen pilgrims must learn reassurance in God's Presence, must know security in God's Provision, must find joy in God's Promise. Rebellion of the heart interrupts; God's judgement prepares. And so, they wander in the wilderness in preparation for God's promise.

Read Deuteronomy 2:1-25

The LORD your God has blessed everything you have done and has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you and provided for your every need so that you lacked nothing. Deuteronomy 2:7 NLT

This chapter opens with Moses remembering how God sends the Israelites back into the wilderness for a long time, and Then at last the LORD said to me, 'You have been wandering around in this hill country long enough; turn northward'. (Deuteronomy 2:2-3) Now begins the journey back to Kadesh Barnea, the entry to the Promised Land. Verse 14 reminds, So, thirty-eight years passed from the time we first arrived at Kadesh Barnea . . . until all the men old enough to fight in battle had died in the wilderness. God leads this new, more faithful generation back to the border of the Promised Land. God's faithfulness remains true; God's judgement rendered, His people are now prepared to follow.

How often we complicate God's Plan for our lives, prolong the journey with our self-sufficient attitudes, our self-confident plans, our self-serving agendas. Our disobedience interrupts; God's discipline prepares. The sooner we accept God's Unfailing Love as His Promise to us, recognize God's Abundant Blessings as His Provision, trust God's Enduring Presence, the shorter our journey to the promised land He chooses for us.

Consider this!

  • What did the Israelites lack? What was their turning point?
  • How is the journey to your promised land going? What preparations does God need you to make?

Adonai ~ You are majesty and mystery, power and presence. You breathe life into all creation, but I do not understand how. You provide for my every need, and I do not lack anything except humility and gratitude. Forgive me when I choose 'good', and You desire 'best'. Prepare my heart as it struggles in the wilderness and waits before Your promise. Prepare my life to enter the promised land You choose for me! Show me how to be more aware of Your Presence. You are Promise ~ then and now and to come! Amen. ~ dho

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rebellion or Trust

As Moses retells the story of God's promise and judgement to the Israelites, we see the struggle with faithful obedience and trust. God leads them from bondage and servitude through the wilderness to the land He desires them to live, only to have them rebel against Him, to refuse to enter the land. Of the twelve scouts that explored the new area, only two, Joshua and Caleb, believe they should proceed. Moses pleads with the Israelites to remember God's presence with them. God is angry and tells them to return to the wilderness. (See Numbers 13:25-14:25 for another account of this time)

Read Deuteronomy 1:26-45

"But you rebelled . . . 'Don't be afraid! The LORD your God is going before you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you again and again here in the wilderness. . .Now He has brought you to this place.' But even after all He did, you refused to trust the LORD your God, who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you by a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day. . .
The LORD [said] . . . turn around now and go back through the wilderness
(Deuteronomy 1:26-40 NLT)

There is much in this passage and reading it in Numbers (referenced above is helpful). Basically, only two scouts want to go forward while the other ten remain fearful and refuse. God is angry. After all the supernatural help the Israelites have received, they still do not trust God's promise. God's Judgement is for them to return to the wilderness until not one from this wicked generation is left to enter the land promised to Abraham's descendants - except Caleb, who has followed the LORD completely and Joshua, who will lead the people into the land.

Apparently, God's constant, unfailing presence is not enough. His abundant provision for their journey through the wilderness is not enough. The Promised Land, a land explored and found to be magnificent and flowing with milk and honey, is not enough. So, this journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea changes course, from the boundary of promise back to years of wilderness. We find ourselves standing next to the Israelites, forgetting and questioning and doubting God's presence, provision and promise. Trusting requires stepping out in faith ~ with God.

Consider this!
  • What resources did God deny the Israelites?
  • If God's promise and provision and presence are not enough for you, what would be enough?

God of Promise ~ You give me everything I need and more. Forgive me when I turn around at the edge of more and say 'no thank you' to enough. You are more than enough! Amen. ~dho

Monday, November 24, 2008

Faithless Doubt

Continuing the study of Deuteronomy, we hear Moses retelling the story of the Israelites standing at the edge of their promised land, Canaan, but full of uncertainty. Despite God's Provisions through the great and terrifying wilderness, the Israelites are unsure how this land would become their own. Forgetting the Protection of Yahweh in their rescue from the Egyptians after 430 years of slavery, their faith waivers.

Read Deuteronomy 1: 19-26

"Then, just as the LORD our God directed us, we left Mount Sinai and traveled through the great and terrifying wilderness . . . we arrived at Kadesh Barnea, [Moses] said to you, 'You have now reached the land that the LORD our God is giving us. Look! He had placed it in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God or your ancestors, has promised you. Don't be afraid! Don't be discouraged!' (Deuteronomy 1:19-21 NLT)

They arrive! Generations after the promise is given Abraham, Moses leads God's chosen people to the border of Canaan. Moses reminds them of God's Provision, Protection and Promise! BUT, they hesitate. Deciding to sent scouts to explore the area, one man is chosen from each of the twelve tribes. In verse 25, the scouts report that the land the LORD our God [has] given us [is] indeed a good land, but immediately verse 26 reveals Moses recollecting, "But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God and refused to go in."

A faithful response to God's promises can be compromised by doubt. The scouts report to Moses the land is a magnificent country - a land flowing with milk and honey . . . But the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large. . . (Numbers 13:27-28). Despite God's numerous miracles and manifest promise, they doubt Him; they refuse to enter Canaan. Standing at Kadesh Barnea the opportunity to step into the long awaited Promised Land is there for the taking, but fear and doubt create hesitation.

Consider this!
  • Contrast God's Promise to the Israelites with their response.
  • Do you trust God to provide all you need? If not, will you?

Lord, You are Yahweh ~ the God of Promise! When uncertainty clouds my thoughts, You remain. When doubt disturbs my hope, You remain. When fear threatens my heart, You remain. I can trust You because You always remain faithful to Your Promise. It is in Your unfailing promise ~to love me, to redeem me, to be with me ~ that I place my faith. Amen! ~dho

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good Leaders Delegate

Strong leadership is crucial to good management. The larger the group, the more team leaders are needed. Micro-management, with one leader making all the decisions, diminishes effectiveness. Moses leads an estimated 2 million people from Egypt (Exodus 12:37). Because all the Israelites look to Moses as their leader, Moses realizes this enormous burden; he needs help and cannot make all the decisions alone. Moses must delegate some of the responsibilities to remain an effective leader.

Read Deuteronomy 1:9-18

. . . And may the LORD, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as He promised! But how can I settle all your quarrels and problems by myself? Choose some men from each tribe who have wisdom, understanding, and a good reputation, and I will appoint them as your leaders. . .
So I took the wise and respected men you had selected from your tribes and appointed them to serve as judges and officials over you. Some were responsible for a thousand people, some for a hundred, some for fifty, and some for ten. . . You [judges] must be perfectly fair at all times . . . When you make decisions, never favor those who are rich; be fair to lowly and great alike. . . (Deuteronomy 1:11-17 NLT)

These verses recognize the need for leaders, describe the qualities of a leader and explain how the leaders are chosen. Characteristics of good leaders require wisdom, understanding, and a good reputation. Leaders must listen to the concerns of the people and render fair judgements, not favoring wealth or status.

Henri Nouwen writes this about Christian Leadership today:
Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and . . . find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.

Nouwen directs the Christian leader to learn to listen again and again to the voice of love, saying this is where to find the wisdom and courage to lead.

Consider this!
  • What characteristics of leadership did Moses demonstrate?
  • Is God calling you to take a leadership role?
  • What is your weakest area of leadership?

LORD, You are all Wisdom! Teach me to listen again and again to the voice of love, to listen You, the Love Most High. When called to lead, let me be rooted in Jesus. Amen. ~dho

[Henri Nouwen; In the Name of Jesus, Reflections on Christian Leadership, p.45]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Deuteronomy Reminds

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts the journey of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, from 430 years of slavery to the land of milk and honey God promised to Abraham and his descendants. It is presented as a series of sermons given by Moses to remind Israel of their difficult, 40-year journey through the wilderness, to recall the lessons of preparation as they stand on the edge of God's Promise, just before they enter their Promised Land. In the next few entries, I want to study Chapters 1 and 2 which concentrate on Israel's initial opportunity to enter their Promised Land and their lack of faith despite God's multiple miracles to rescue them.

Read Deuteronomy 1:1-8

. . . When we were at Mount Sinai, The LORD our God said to us, 'You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. . . Go to the land of the Canaanites . . . I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants. (Deuteronomy 1:5-8 NLT)

The first 4 verses comprise the prologue to the entire book, but it reveals an interesting timeline. After the Israelites cross the Red Sea, one of God's miracles in their rescue from the Egyptians, their journey takes them to Mount Sinai, where God gives them The Law (Ten Commandments). In this introduction summary we learn that it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to the edge of the Promised Land, but it would be 40 years before they would enter. In verses 5-8 we find God's directions to His favored people, hear His instructions to go in and occupy the land He promised.

These are the lessons Deuteronomy teaches:
  • When reminded of God's Actions ~ we find hope in following Him
  • When reminded of God's Expectations ~ we should listen and obey
  • When reminded of God's Character ~ we can love Him completely

Consider this!

  • What promise did God make to Israel?
  • What promise does God make to you?

LORD, remind me how You provide for all my needs. Remind me why I can trust Your promise for me. Remind me of the land chosen for me, of the place You choose for me to serve. Amen. ~dho

[Additional reading ~ Exodus: the life of Moses and how he lead the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land]

Monday, November 03, 2008

Glorious Grace

Gracious Lord,
Grace falls like gentle rain, steady and sure. Grace pours over us like rivers of light, faithful and full. Grace floods our hearts, spilling over and rushing free. We cannot capture or explain or contain Your generous offering. Yet, every day, we simply find more Grace lavished upon our souls. Gentle Shepherd, Faithful Father, Holy Spirit - You come to us with unmeasured love that is undeserved, and You show us unmerited favor.

Our praise comes with Thank You, sincere and simple. Our praise shouts with Hallelujah! and Amen!, grateful and rich. Our praise overflows with To God be the Glory, great things He has Done!. We cannot adequately celebrate or applaud or adore your Magnificent Power. Yet, every day, You graciously accept meager gratitude scattered within our words. Everlasting Light, Holy Father, Spirit of the Living God - we come to You with imperfect words that are unworthy, and, still, we find more offerings of Extravagant Grace.

Gracious Lord, how do we offer thanks for such a Gift? ~dho

Psalm 84:11 (NKJV):
For the LORD God is a splendid shield;
The LORD will give glorious grace;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

God's glorious grace and our inferior, imperfect offerings merge in stark contrast; our temporal, finite human mind is perplexed. This gracious, generous God accepts our frail, feeble attempts to praise and worship Magnificence, Majesty and Mystery. In return, He gives Extravagant Grace!

For me to seek the answers that only Mystery knows, to choose the gift that only Majesty offers, to know the grace that only Magnificence gives, implores Yahweh's splendid shield and glorious grace. The world is full of contradictions. That Perfect Love would pay the ransom for my perfected iniquity remains the greatest one. Gracious Lord, how do I offer thanks for such a gift? ~dho

Sunday, November 02, 2008

God's Ways

God's glory is on tour in the skies, . . .
Their words aren't heard,
their voices aren't recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. . .
That's how God's Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.
The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes. . .
The decisions of GOD are accurate
down to the nth degree.
There's more: GOD's Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool"
Clean the slate God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over Your work; . . .
These are the words in my mouth . . .
Accept them when I place them on the morning altar. . .
Psalm 19 The Message
Spirit of the Living God,
I long to discover the inner workings of the
Father's Plan for me. In these times of waiting,
grant my soul peace, my mind discernment, my
heart patience. How I can feel Your presence
and sense the power of Your Ways! Yet,
sometimes I can only watch You work. In
these times, I must trust You.
Prepare my heart with Your Desires. Prepare
my mind with the wisdom I will need. Prepare
my soul for the path You choose. Holy Spirit,
whisper the mysterious and wonderful things the
Father has for me. Praises for His Endless Love
and Unmeasured Goodness - it overwhelms me day
and night! The applause of ten thousand angels is
not enough! Jesus, hear this prayer! Amen.

~ dho

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wait Expectantly

I pray to GOD - my life a prayer -
and wait for what He'll say and do.
Psalm 130:5 The Message

The Living Bible uses these words ~ I wait expectantly, trusting God for help, for He has promised. When we wait expectantly, that is called hope! In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction Eugene Peterson writes this about Psalm 130 and hope:

Hoping . . . means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. . . It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying.

[Hope] is imagination put in the harness of faith . . . a willingness to let God do it His way and in His time.

Is it our lack of trusting in God's faithful promises or the our cynicism towards hope that binds us to despair? Do we worry more about not being able to control circumstances than confindently going about our assigned tasks? Allowing God to work in His way and in His time often requires us to wait. By studying the Scirptures and through prayer, our relationship with God grows; our understanding of His character increases. In His presence we find a peace within the uncertainty; we are embraced by His peace through the waiting. We must wait expectantly on God ~ Who is Faithful, Who is Promise, Who is HOPE! ~ dho

Gracious LORD,
I come to the altar shouting praise for
all the blessings in my life. You are the Light
that writes the words of my soul-song. It is
You that gives my heart its desires. You are Hope!
Faithful Father, I am God-strong; my blessings
abundantly exceed my needs. Creator, gather the
details of my life, take Your holy threads and weave
a tapestry of Your design. . . You transcend all
circumstances, expose all evil, reveal all love but
never measure Grace. I am God-strengthened! ~dho

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hope Endures

I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable. ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall still praise Him
For the help of His presence. . .
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:5,7-8 NASB

The soul must remain willingly unguarded in its struggle with suffering, not for the lessons of despair, rather hope. It is Hope that reaches into the chaos and rescues us. Lindbergh's description of suffering is more about hope than despair. If hope prevails, God must have access to our suffering souls, and it is only in our willingness to remain vulnerable that He can offer lessons on mourning, understanding, patience and love. While not bound by time, His Grace is released in our praise, released by His presence, released through His unfailing love, released with our prayers. Hope in God endures. ~dho

Faithful Father ~
I come into the Holy of Holies! On my knees, my head
bowed in reverence, I ask for wisdom and understanding.
Sometimes my faith seems weak as circumstances crowd
around me and threaten to come between You and me.
Forgive me when the noise of the world drowns out Your
voice, when the chaos inside my heart closes the door to
Your beauty, when the ramblings of my thoughts interfere
with Your desires. In my weakness, I need You more than
ever. Let me love with a tender heart. Fill me with hope.

Come with me - wherever I must go. Remind me of Your
unforced ryhthms of grace. In Your loving arms I can always
find rest from the world. In the name of Jesus, Amen! ~dho

Friday, October 17, 2008

Promise Keeper

Nehemiah 9:1-15 The Message

They stood and confessed their sins. . .
read from The Book of the Law of the LORD their God
. . . confessed and worshiped the LORD * (NKJV)

Blessed be Your glorious name,
exalted about all blessing and praise!
You're the one, GOD, You alone;
You made the heavens,
the heavens of heavens, and all angels;
The earth and everything on it,
the seas and everything in them;
You keep them all alive;
heaven's angels worship you!

You're the one GOD, the God
who chose Abram . . . signed a covenant with him
. . . kept Your word because You are righteous.
You saw the anguish . . . heard their cries . . .
amazed Pharaoh . . . with wonders and miracle-signs.
. . . You split the sea before them . . . their pursurers . . . sank.

. . . by day You led them with a Pillar of Cloud,
and by night with a Pillar of Fire
To show them the way they were to travel . . .
You spoke to them . . . gave them instructions . . .
You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,
You sent them water from the rock for their thirst.
You told them to enter and take the land
which You promised to give them.

In his devotional book The Power of His Presence, Ray Stedman describes this prayer in Nehemiah as a great model. God is more than Creator and Protector, He is compassion and provision, sustainer and redeemer. God knows our needs before we do, hears our pain's depth, provides for our hungering and thirsting souls. Stedman writes God sustains us momemt by moment.** Forever offering manifold mercies, God is the Promise Keeper. ~ dho

** Where To Begin, August 18, The Power of His Presence; Ray Stedman

Friday, September 12, 2008

O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance
and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 NKJV

Time after time, God has provided, and I know He continues to be with me. I don't have to look very far to know how richly blessed my life has been. Would I have choosen less tears or easier circumstances? My human heart wishes for simple and good, idealistic and benign paths, but a spiritual journey is challenging. The human mind questions God's answers and proposes contradictions. We are so finite that mystery escapes us, sometimes bewilders us. However, in between the "what if's" and inside the "why not's", His Grace flows so abundantly that I find my soul secure and in pleasant places - one with the Father. So, I will wait for His plan to be revealed, Word by Word, prayer by prayer, moment by moment, opportunity by opportunity, person by person, possibility by possiblity.

Father, my heart gives You the Glory for my good deeds. My offerings are simple compared to Yours - a prayer, a Scripture, a hope, a gesture - just tokens of kindness and love. You touch my soul with words written centuries ago. Oh, Lord, Your Grace pours over me like a gentle rain, refreshing and renewing. In the stillness of this moment, I accept the portion and cup You have assigned me. In my obedience, use me to reach beyond, around and through circumstances to be a witness to Your Grace. Amen. dho

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tapestries of Love

LORD, You have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. LORD, even before I say a word, You already know it. You are all around me – in front and in back – and have put Your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand
. . . You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
. . . God, Your thoughts are precious to me. They are so many! If I could count them, they would be more than all the grains of sand. . . God, examine me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any bad thing in me. Lead me on the road to everlasting life.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NCV), 13-16 (NLT), 17-18, 23-24 (NCV)

Faithful Father,
What makes me think I can hide my doubts from You? How can I pretend to be strong when You know I am not? Why would You listen so intently to my prayers when You already know my needs? When am I ever alone?
You know all about me and love me still. I am never alone – You are all around me. You listen to the groans of my soul with mercy and tenderness. You are my strength; You make me bold, for I am nothing without You. LORD, even before I say a word, my heart’s desires, my anxious thoughts, my hurried spirit, my silent fears – all are known. You are too marvelous for me!
You create magnificent designs, each one unique. Your thoughts are like threads of gold and silver and cotton and silk, in colors of every shade, while our moments are like remnants of fibers with varied hues and textures and patterns. Your thoughts and our moments are woven and spun into holy tapestries of love. With majesty and grace, You weave them together for glory-purposes that exceed my abilities to know or understand. God, examine me . . . lead me ~ in all things, at all times! Amen.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Bravo, GOD, bravo!
. . . angels shout, "Encore!"
In awe before the glory, in awe before God's visible power.
. . . GOD's thunder sets the oak tres dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees - we call out, "Glory!"
Psalm 29:1, 9 The Message

God's Splendor and Power reveal His character ~ Steadfast Love and Faithfulness. And my response? It should be to fall to [my] knees and call out, "Glory!". The problem often lies in not noticing God's mystery and majesty; the problem lies within me.

Holy Father,
Glimpses of Your glory escape me because I hurry past or rush between or skip ahead. Your best moments are hidden in my eagerness, my enthusiasm, my certainty. Forgive the careless and egocentric attitudes that clog my days and blind my heart to the unmeasured blessings.

In the silence of the early morning, let me linger in Your presence, a fragrance fresh and sweet. In the darkness of the late night, let me sit with You, with wisdom strong and true. In the solitude of an afternoon walk or in the stillness as children lie sleeping, I desire to rest with You, a shelter safe and warm. Tell me where to go and what to choose. Help me know how and when and if. Oh, Father, as I wait, give me patience to be still long enough to listen, quiet long enough to hear Your whispers of love. Amen. ~dho

Friday, July 18, 2008


John 4:28 "the woman put down her water
jar and hurried back to tell the people".

"She put down her water jar. This very well may be
the heart of this beautiful story. Her water jar is her
own agenda. . . She walked away from that well with
Living Water because she was able to let go of her
own agenda . . . and go forth with God's agenda."
from Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels

Holy Father,
Help me put down my water jar - my
agenda, my expectations, my plans, my
desires. These get in the way of your Mighty
Ways, your Divine Intentions for my life. In
my own humanity, I fail to come to the altar
without some remnant of thought or partial
desire in my heart. In the deepest part of my
soul, I long to worship You with pure intent.
I thirst for Living Water.
Fill my cup . . . I lift it up . . .
Quench this thirsting in my soul . . . Fill it up and make
me whole.
Find me on my knees, my soul in
the circle of grace, listening for Your Agenda.
Amen. ~


Henri J. M. Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup? (Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria, 1996), 57.

"Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say: “Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs – but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”

Paul writes: And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.
Philemon 1:6 The Message

We are called into community through Christ. He asks us to reach beyond our boundaries of our commonality and touch others in His name. While our differences sometimes distinguish us from one another, we are one in Him. Oswald Chambers writes about becoming broken bread and poured out wine. Only through Grace can acts of goodness become broken bread and poured out wine. Circumstance does not create community, rather it reveals its strength, its motivations, its endurance, its depth, its hope. Christ calls believers into community ~ and our response reveals our true faith. I wonder, do people recognize Christ in my acts of goodness? ~dho

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It is no light task to teach all people in truth, and to foster unity, forgiveness, sincerity, and uprightness in all things. ~ The Rule of Carthage, Irish, 7th century

Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many schemes.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 (NASB/ESV)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Deep and Wide

To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed.
Psalm 22:5 NASB
There is a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea. . .
For the love of God is broader than the measure of our mind. . .
If our love were but more simple, we should rest upon God's Word;
and our lives would be illumined by the presence of our Lord.
by Fredrick W. Faber, 1854
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Friday, July 11, 2008

Prayer for a new story ~

When I told you my story, You listened to me;
train me in Your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
so I can ponder Your miracle-wonders.
I am sad and tired;
build me up again by Your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with Your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,
I post Your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever You tell me;
Lord, don't let me make a mess of things.
I'll run the course You lay out for me
if You'll just show me how.
Psalm 119: 26-32 ( The Message, TLB, NCV, the Amplified Bible)

Maker of my soul,
Hear my story - my uncertainties and struggles and disappointments. I attempted to understand the wonder of Your Grace, but it exceeded my comprehension. I journeyed down many roads in search of personal satisfaction, but continued to miss the signs. I tried to write my own story but grew weary in my efforts.
Speak to me! I long to hear Your voice. Grace me. Lead me. Show me.
Redeemer, renew me. Let my soul find rest in the Grace that exceeds understanding. Give me a map out of the wilderness. Lead me on the righteous road to contentment. Author of all, write my story! Show me how to share this new story of faith and obedience and blessing! With praises for Everlasting Goodness, Amen.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Obedience to the Command of Jesus

In his book A Life of Obedience, Andrew Murray writes about obedience to the command of Jesus (the Great Commision) and the disciples' response:

Before, during His life on earth, they had more than once expressed their doubt about the possibility of fulfilling His commands.

But here, as quietly and simply as He speaks these divine words, they accept them . . . they go to the appointed place to wait to be equipped by their Lord with heavenly power for heaven's work of making all the nations His disciples.

. . . Within a generation, simple men, whose names we do not even know, had preached the Gospel in Antioch and Rome and the regions beyond. The command was passed on and absorbed into the heart and life, as meant for all ages and for every disciple.

Still today, we disciples of Jesus continue to share the Gospel. At the appointed place and equipped by God ~ Generation after generation stands in awe of Your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts. . . GOD is good to one and all; everything He does is suffused with grace. (Psalm 145:4,9 ~ The Message) ~ dho

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Private Audience

He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved - surprised to be loved.
2 Samuel 22:20 The Message

God of miracle-wonders,
God of well-thought-out-plans ~
His cloud-brightness burst through a grand
comet of fireworks. Then God thundered out
of heaven; the High God gave a great shout
I have seen You ~ the Light in my darkness.
I have felt You ~ the Power in my weakness.
I have heard You ~ the Voice in the chaos.
I celebrate You! I praise You! I rest in
the mountaintop refuge, safe.

Love Most High, in all times You are my
shield of protection! You rescue me, touch me,
heal me, lead me forward. For such love, words
search but find no escape, captives of
mediocrity. God, make my life complete as I
place all the pieces before You. Hear the
prayers of my heart. Amen.
~ dho

* Scripture from 2 Samuel 22 (The Message)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Submitting To The Yoke

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14 NASB

I am certain that seeking His Will is the only way, and I do find His goodness along the way ~ in every day. The ordinary calls to me this day ~ the simple calls in the quiet of the morning, the warmth of the sun, the singing of birds, the beauty of Spring's new blooms ~ and yet, in this ordinariness and simplicity, I find the Creator's fingerprints which are extraordinary ~ complex ~ intricate. He weaves it all together ~ in the waiting ~ and in the living.

The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! . . . Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin agresh each day.
. . . I will hope in Him! The LORD is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek Him. Lamentaions 3:22-26 NLT

The Life Application Study Bible commentary refers to "submit to the yoke" (Lamentations 3:27) meaning the ways God teaches us. It offers these ways:
1- silent reflection on what God wants 2- repentant humility 3- self-control in the face of adversity 4- confident patience, depending on the divine Teacher to bring about loving lessons in our life

These words speak to me, give me season to pause, give me reason to reflect. How blessed I am to share His Word! ~dho

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Crucified Redeemer

“The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:38-39 (NIV)

Epitimao is a Greek word meaning “to rap on the knuckles” as to reprimand and appears several times throughout Mark's text. According to Mark, the miracles of Jesus do not define Him as Messiah, rather His essential suffering and death on the cross. In the death of Jesus, His glory is revealed as Messiah, Redeemer of all, Son of God. Through these words of Mark, I begin to focus on Christ’s suffering and crucifixion, not just His glorious resurrection.

Oswald Chambers writes:
"The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God's judgement on sin.
. . . The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision . . . But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God." *


Centuries ago, a man of God called Mark inscribed a great work.
Written in his native Greek, this first edition served as a reference
For other scribes who penned the story.
And, hence, became a polyglot classic.
Little is known about this enlightened composer of images,
The recorder of the Messianic secret.
To most, the beauty of his literary genius remains obscured by candid, woven narration.
Theologians echo, “Epitimao, for they are dull.”

It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
He was despised and rejected by men,
A man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering . . .
For he bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”

As the Master instructed his students, he spoke of the Kingdom of God,
While his students chattered about a kingdom.
Teaching them of things to come, the Master described the betrayal, suffering, and death of the Son of Man,
While his students argued about poIitical appointments by an earthly king.
As predicted, betrayal followed by denial, became the Master’s fate.
Alone with his captors, the Master was beaten, mocked, and crucified.
At last, the beauty of his divinity was revealed,
Unveiled by a violent and cruel death.

Centuries have passed: the victorious Good News endures.
Translators polished the original Greek classic.
Yet echoes of Mark rend the air,
Epitimao those who stand amazed in the presence of a risen Savior,
And have not stood mute at the foot of the cross.
Epitimao, for they are dull.” ~ dho

Lord ~ In my boldness to profess Your glory, I forget the pain. I hear Epitimao! In immense humility, I fall to my knees with wordless intention, but cannot truly know the depth of suffering You endured.
Reveal my sin that drives the nails into Your flesh. Reveal the Cross that breathes new life into my soul. Reveal the cost. Reveal the Love. ~ dho

* Oswald Chambers, from "My Utmost for His Highest", April 6, updated edition

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Adonai-Jehovah ~
Sovereign Lord, we know the blessings that pour from You, blessings like the sweetest wine that flows from the highest mountains, generous and gracious, extraordinary and extravagant. In You we find the Source of all goodness. With tender mercies You open our eyes to these gifts, open our ears to these promises, open our hearts to these wonders! With unlimited love You heal the pain, mend the wounds, hold the tears. With gentle grace You forgive our faults, prepare our hearts, renew our minds. Such Amazing Love and Marvelous Grace!

Yeshua, You became the Suffering Servant. You are the Glory Everlasting! Savior and Shepherd, we rest in You. Rebuild us and plant us, for Your purposes exceed our imaginations. Use our hands and feet, our minds and hearts, our strength and weakness, our hope and weariness, our love and desire ~ for we are made new in You! Precious Jesus, speak this prayer for us. Amen.

God . . . renew a steadfast spirit within me Psalm 51:10b (NIV)