Sunday, December 25, 2011

He Is Still Coming!

He is coming ~

Him who is and who was and who is to come, . . . Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth . . . who released us from our sins by His blood - and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father - to Him be the glory and dominion forever. Amen.

BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away,
. . . And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write for these words are faithful and true. . . I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. . . "

[Jesus says} "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, . . . I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." . . . I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. . .Yes, I am coming quickly."
Revelation 1:5-8, 21:1-6, 2212-20

Saturday, December 24, 2011

God With Us

He is coming ~

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. . . Go quickly and tell His disciples . . He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:5-6,16-20

Friday, December 23, 2011

Scripture Fulfilled

He is coming ~

Pliate wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS". . . the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. . .

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier. . . "let us not tear [the tunic], but cast lots for it" . . . this was to fulfill Scripture. . .

Jesus knowing that all things had already been accomplished to fulfill the Scripture, . . . said, "It is finished!" and gave up His spirit. . . So the soldiers came. . . one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take the body of Jesus . . . Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, . . . So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings, with the spices, [and they laid Him in the new tomb].
John 19:20-41

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Second Advent

He is coming ~

[Jesus said] "But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. But in those days, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels and will gather together His elect from the the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven."
Mark 13:23-27

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prediction of Grace

He is coming ~

Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again."
Luke 18:31-33

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let the Children Come

He is coming ~

And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." Luke 18:15-17

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cost of Discipleship

He is coming ~

And [Jesus] summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wished to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in the adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
Mark 8:34-38

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peter's Confession

He is coming ~

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah, but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but My Father who is in heaven. I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."
Matthew 16:13-18

Saturday, December 17, 2011


He is coming ~

Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there. And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, and mute, and many others, and laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. So the crowd marveled as they saw the  mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Matthew 15:29-31

Friday, December 16, 2011


He is coming ~

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. . .

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordon. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."
Mark 1:1-4, 9-11

Thursday, December 15, 2011


He is coming ~

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet:
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him." After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
Matthew 2:1-12

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Simeon's Prophecy

He is coming ~

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, . . .  and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
"Now Lord, You are releasing Your servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
And the glory of Your people Israel."

And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. Simeon blessed then and said to Mary, His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed - and a sword will pierce even your own soul - to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
Luke 2:25-35

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


He is coming ~

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:4-7

Monday, December 12, 2011

Joseph Doubts

He is coming ~

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. . .
Matthew 1:18-25

Sunday, December 11, 2011

3rd Sunday of Advent ~ Joy!

He is coming ~

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

And Mary said:
"My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."

Luke 1:39-47

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gabriel's Message

He is coming ~

Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

. . ."Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

And Mary said, "Behold, . . . may it be done to me according to your word."
Luke 1:26-38

Friday, December 09, 2011

Preparing The Way

He is coming ~
And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense, Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.

You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.

And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Luke 1:11-17

Thursday, December 08, 2011


He is coming! ~

"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;
and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold,
He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 3:1

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Higher Plan

He is coming ~

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts higher than your thoughts. . .
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:8-9,11

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


He is coming ~

As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities. . .

He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:11,12b

Monday, December 05, 2011

Our Sins

He is coming ~

Yet it was our grief He bore, our sorrows that weighed Him down.
And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, for His own sins!
But He was wounded and bruised for our sins.
He was chastised that we might have peace;
He was lashed - and we were healed!
We are the ones who strayed away like sheep!
We, who left God's path to follow our own.
Yet God laid on Him the guilt and sins of every one of us!
Isaiah 53:4-6 TLB

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent ~ LOVE

He is coming ~

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and aquainted with grief;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Isaiah 53:2-4a

Saturday, December 03, 2011


He is coming ~

"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry out or raise His voice,
Nor make His voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;
He will faithfully bring forth justice."
Isaiah 42:1-3

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Voice Calling

He is coming ~

A voice is calling,
"Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
Isaiah 40:3-5

Thursday, December 01, 2011


He is coming ~

On that day the deaf will hear words of a book,
And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.
The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the LORD,
And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 29:18-19

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Costly Cornerstone

He is coming ~

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed."
Isaiah 28:16

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


He is coming ~

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Monday, November 28, 2011

But Later. . .

He is coming ~

He treated the land of Zebulum and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
Isaiah 9:1-2

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The First Sunday of Advent ~ HOPE

He is coming ~

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks!

As we find ourselves surrounded by gatherings to celebrate GRATITUDE, remember the One we must thank for ALL that we have, for ALL the goodness around us, for unfailing Love, for GRACE! It is God who provides and protects each of us moment by moment, whatever the moments bring. Be surrounded by His Presence this Thanksgiving! ~ dho

Psalm 34:3
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

God In Our Moments

Affirmation of faith:
"We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Lord over life and death.
We believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. With His help we can remain faithful when tempted, peaceful when troubled, and loving when opposed.
We believe that in all things we can be more than conquerors. For neither death nor life, neither the present nor the future, neither suffering nor trials can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."

God's love finds us where we are whether we are suffering or shouting hallelujah's! Because God desires a relationship with us, He longs to share in our days, whether they are long and full or hurried and fragile or few and peaceful. God walks with us so closely that sometimes we can miss Him ~ especially when everything seems so easy, so good, so simple. I believe only God can make days like these.

From a familiar hymn, these words remind me to be aware of time:
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.*

In the week to come, whatever comes our way, I believe we can find God in our moments. Remain faithful and be aware of His presence! ~ dho

* hymn Take My Life, and Let It Be

Thursday, September 29, 2011


previously published on

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
 Luke 12:48

Familiar Scripture came to mind today as we arrived at Duke's Children's Health Center for Thomas to give away the Sasha Bears. These nearly two dozen bears were bought in honor of Thomas from Linda's friend Brenda Herrick, a "Scentsy" consultant . Those who purchased the bears, did not take them but donated them to Thomas so he could share them with other children in treatment for Brain Cancer at Duke.

Today, Thomas, along with Social Worker Rebecca McIntyre, met children in the Day Hospital and Clinic and Duke Children's Hospital who are receiving treatments. Also, Katie from Child Life spent time with Thomas and took a couple of bears for some children who were not present today.

Children who were both older and younger than Thomas seemed to really like the bears. They were able to choose the scent pack they liked as it was stuffed into the bear. Sweet smiles were all around.

As I served as the official photographer of the day, I could not help but think back on the journey we have traveled. As we walked the now familiar halls, passed the elevators and PICU and Step Down Units that consumed our days, I remembered the days after surgery. I remembered the tubes and machines and procedures. We showed Thomas the way to the PICU. While he did not really remember his days there, the MRI, the decisions made, I did.

As I watch him smile and tell the story of the Sasha Bears, help each one choose a scent pack, and give bear after bear away, my heart is humbled. How great and good is our God! He is healing Thomas in many ways. Prayers are being answered, side effects have been marginal, energy has improved.

Today, wearing his Duke Medicine T-shirt and matching bandanna, Thomas smiles his way along the halls, meeting each child at eye level. There are those who are older and those who are younger than Thomas. There are those who suffer in different ways, with different problems after their surgeries. There are those who must take both radiation and chemotherapy. There are some who remain in isolation, some who must return to stay in the hospital over and over. Some have permanent shunts; all have their own scars.

As I look at the miracle God is doing, my eyes see just how much God has given, and my heart knows that God expects us to give in return. God has truly given more; today, Thomas gave MORE! I wonder, just how much has God entrusted to Thomas, to us? How will we ever be able to give enough to express our gratitude?

A two year old name Dillion said it all without speaking: he smiled, hugged the bear then signed: THANK YOU!

To God be the Glory ~ dho

IF you want to order a Scentsy bear (or other products), see Brenda's site below. For all the Bears sold, a portion of thSe proceeds goes to the Ronald McDonald House and ALL COMMISIONS for these bears through September go to Thomas's FUND!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ordinary Time

from my Caring Bridge post on Sunday September 18, 2011 ~

This is the Lord's Day! I went to St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church with Linda, Mike and Thomas this morning. Wearing his long white robe and a bandanna with stars, Thomas was an altar server today. He takes his service very seriously and finds deep satisfaction as evidenced by his expressions

This is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. "Ordinary Time" is all the time during the liturgical year, excluding the season of Advent (Christmas through Epiphany) and Lent (Ash Wednesday through Pentecost). I always forget about this phrase but like the image evoked, because we all live most of our lives in ordinary time.

After the reading of the Scriptures from the Old Testament and the New Testament, familiar words are spoken: The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. However, before the reading from The Gospel the response is different: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew. Glory to You, Lord. I like the reply of the people: Glory to You, Lord.

As is custom, the Lord's Prayer is sung in community. The ending words were my soul's valediction: For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours, now and forever. During communion, these words from the song echoed over and over in my heart as my prayers of thanksgiving were laid on the altar: All my being, bless the Lord, remembering the goodness of God.

The last song sung was one I had never heard but the words spoke to the core of this journey we must take. It does not feel like it, but we are walking in ordinary time, despite extraordinary circumstances. This journey is not unlike our faith journey, mostly lived out in ordinary time, always seeking an extraordinary Savior. Read the words to the song Enter the Journey and follow the vision, carry the cross.

  Enter the journey, come to the song.
By God you are chosen, by name you are called
To follow the vision, carry the cross.
Enter the journey of faith as the family of God.

Enter the journey, the way may be long.

Enter the journey, yet we are made strong.

God's Spirit will guide us, God's gifts will unfold.

Enter the journey of hope!

Enter the journey, though lost and unsure.

Enter the journey, God's peace will be yours.

And all who are thirsting will be filled with God's grace.

Enter the journey of faith!

Enter the journey, dark is the way.

Enter the journey, do not be afraid.

For God's great compassion will give you new sight.

Enter the journey of light!

Enter the journey, the old and the young.

Enter the journey, the kingdom is won.

By faith now united, as servants we come.

Enter the journey of love!

(by Mark Friedman and Janet Vogt)

Glory to You, Lord! ~dho
you can follow the journey of Thomas as he fights brain cancer:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

God's Glory!

Then Moses said, "Now show me your Glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Exodus 33:18-19 NIV
Thomas, head through the sun roof! Simple joy!

As our family has prayed its way through this journey of brain cancer, surgery and radiation, we have asked God to heal, to strengthen, to comfort Thomas. Our prayers and the countless prayers of family and friends and friends of friends have asked for encouragement and energy, for patience and peace, for calm and courage. Holy praises have been offered to the Lord for joy in the simple things, for small victories,and for laughter. We have not asked God like Moses, "Now show us Your Glory", but He has! God's great goodness has passed in front of us! His Glory is evidenced in moments and minutes and memories of His Presence during this journey.

The question of why there is suffering and who is healed can not be adequately answered with our finite minds. The fall of humanity from the beginning allowed sin to stand between mankind and God. It is only through Christ, the Son, that we find a way back to God, the Father. In between the beginning and the end, there is uncertainty and chaos and questions, but before the beginning and after the end, there is Certainty, Peace, and Truth. We find this possiblity in God, the Creator himself, who has all authority. Not bound by time or distance or circumstance, we must accept this God, for He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.

Not knowing why, nor understanding His Ways, I can say for certain that we have felt God's mercy and compassion, that we have witnessed God's mercy and compassion, that we will tell of God's mercy and compassion. For as every petition rises like incense to this Holy God, each one is full of thanksgiving for such undeserved, unmerited mercy and compassion. Truly the Goodness of God has passed in front of us, too!
To God be the Glory ~ dho

Sunday, September 04, 2011

New Places and Opportunities

Almost a year ago, I recorded the following in my devotional journal. These are the words of Dennis Kinlaw from his devotional book, This Day with the Master.
 [God] is waiting to explode our smallness and put us in places of which we have only dreamed. . . Do not settle for smallness, . . . God is waiting to take you into places and open you up to opportunities that exist only in your wildest dreams.
Kinlaw goes on to point out that these opportunities do not come from our own making, rather "you must let [God] give you the opportunities and move you into new places."

Why is it that we  complain about the smallness of our lives, the smallness of the moments? When does our complacency allow us to be content with our smallness? How often do we go in search of new places and opportunities by ourselves? Do we seek God's will for our moments or charge ahead, desperate to create our own?

These are questions that wrestle with my mind. The many possibilities can create conflict for me, and other times, the waiting stagnates my willingness. If these words are true, that God desires to put us in places of which we have only dreamed, dare I not wait with Him? Likewise, if we must let God provide the opportunities and move us to these new places, dare I not trust His leading?  I must trust Him absolutely! ~dho

God, the One and Only - I'll wait as long as He says.
Everything I need comes from Him,
He's solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul.
. . . So trust Him absolutely.
Psalm 62:1-2,8 The Message

Thursday, August 25, 2011

To God Be The Glory!

When you think life is going along as expected, just wait! It won't be long before there will come some interruption ~ usually unexpected. When I look back, I can often find that God has been preparing my heart in my devotional and prayer time. Such has been my experience again.

Six days after my last blog entry, the world seemed to stop for a few minutes; my breath seemed too thick to move in and out of my lungs as I heard "Thomas has a brain tumor." Thomas is my 9 year old nephew, the only child of my only sister. Surgery followed two days later to remove as much of the tumor as possible. 90 -95% of the malignant tumor was removed. Now we are just beginning radiation treatments.

Everything in between what used to be and what is now ~ happened. Some call such situations disasters, tragedies, unfortunate. Truly this is something that none of us would have chosen, yet it brings new dimension to our faith. This difficult circumstance that we did not choose brings us to our knees before God in a way that nothing but tragedy can. We seek the God of miracles! We praise the God All-knowing! We trust the God of Healing and Wisdom! We move forward only with God! God is our Refuge and our Protection. As so often our prayers remind . . . It is hard for our human hearts to imagine but God loves you,Thomas, MORE than any of us! To God be the Glory!

You can follow this amazing God-journey that Thomas is making at

pray with us ~ 
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.
We have seen You ~ the Light in our darkness.
We have felt You ~ the Power in our weakness.
We have heard You ~ the Voice in the chaos.
We celebrate You! We praise You! We rest in
the mountaintop refuge, safe.
Love Most High, in all times You are our
shield of protection! You rescue us, touch us,
heal us, lead us forward.
For such love, words search but find no escape,
captives of mediocrity.
God, make my life complete as we place all
the pieces before You.
Hear the deepest, wordless prayers of our hearts. Amen. ~ dho

[Scripture from Psalm 18 ~ The Message]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hummmm. . . .!

It is a glorious thing to know that your father God makes no mistakes in directing or permitting that which crosses the path of your life. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter. It is our glory to trust Him, no matter what. ~ Joni Eareckson Tada

I saw Joni at FBC in Jackson, MS in 1976. That evening, I listened to her testimony of how God turned an unexpected diving accident resulting in quadriplegia into a ministry for Him. While she spoke she held a Flair pen with her teeth and sketched. As a senior Physical Therapy student at the University of MS Medical School, my skills evaluated her abilities and her obvious paralysis. Her artistic talents exceeded my expectations. Certainly her testimony of accepting adversity and making positive strides challenged me as a therapist, her example was one of faith and courage.

In the fall of 2005, I read Joni's very personal story in her book, The God I Love. I found her honesty refreshing as she described the many years that she had hoped for a miracle yet grew  a ministry that touched thousands. And, again, a few days ago, I ran across her quote in my "stash" of other people's words. This time ~ summer 2011, I sit with her words and evaluate the meaning of this kind of faith and courage. Accepting God's directing or permitting . . . trust[ing] Him, no matter what is sometimes difficult. I do, however, believe His Purposes will never fail, and His Faithfulness will not end. Perhaps my trust in God can only be grounded in the very character of God. God's Promises are BEST! 

As for circumstances that I do not choose? I am reminded of Paul's words to the Corinthians:
In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. Romans 6:4 NLT
~ dho

Monday, July 04, 2011

Fruits of Freedom

One Nation Under God . . . America the Free! If we think back to our beginnings as a country, freedom to become our own country, to govern ourselves echoed across the Atlantic to England and grew roots in this new land. We still cherish this freedom and proudly claim that America stands for liberty and justice for all. A civilization's freedom comes with a price. We honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

In God we trust still marks our money, despite those who champion its removal. America's coins and paper money pay iconic homage to some of the leaders who helped make this freedom possible. As Christians, we recognize that our true freedom is about faith and hope and love. A soul's freedom must also be purchased. We trust in our great God, and King, whose Plan for Freedom rings still. We worship Christ, the One whose sacrifice offers everlasting freedom.

What are the fruits of freedom? To the soldier, they are peace instead of war, wholeness instead of battle wounds. To the leader, they are certainty instead of probability, unity instead of division. To the parent or spouse or child of a soldier, they are presence instead of absence, joy instead of anxiety. To a country, they are liberty and justice for all. To the Christian, they are these same things ~ peace and wholeness, certainty and unity, presence and joy, liberty and justice for all. Because we serve a God who is Loving and Faithful and Righteous in ways we cannot understand, we can find true freedom in His Grace.  To the goodness of God, the Author of Liberty, we owe everything.  ~dho

. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Monday, June 27, 2011

Infinitely MORE!

Call to Me and I will answer you. I'll tell you marvelous and wonderful things that you could never figure out on your own.  Jeremiah 33:3 The Message

When we call to God ~ with petition or without words, inside crisis or outside certainty, after fear or before failure ~ He is there! Not only is God there, He is waiting for you! His goodness exceeds our greatest hope. God is infinitely more wonderful, and He desires to share this amazing love with us. Wonder what marvelous and wonderful things God has to tell you?  Ask Him! ~dho

All we are and all we have is the . . . the love of God! The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful than we will ever be able to comprehend.  A.W. Tozer

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Endure the Unendurable

Colossians 1:1-12 NASB
" . . . walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, . . ."

In reading these verses, we learn that Paul and Timothy have been praying these things for the Colossian believers. Paul had not actually visited them but learned about their salvation through fellow believer, Epaphras, who had heard the Gospel from Paul at Ephesus and took this transforming message back to Colosse. Having heard of their faith, Paul writes to encourage them. These are their prayers
- walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
- please the Lord in all respects
- bear fruit in every good work
- increase knowledge of God
- be strengthened through God's power  
And the "strength to stick it out over the long haul" that comes with serving Christ is well expressed in The Message when it speaks of "Glory-strength", [the] strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.

Have you prayed for someone today? Have you prayed for "Glory-strength", a Christ-strength that endures the unendurable? Remember everyday brings spiritual battles to those who believe in Christ. The spiritual warfare for believers is often hard and unrelenting. Many circumstances surround each of us, threatening to weary us. Pray for "Glory-strength" to strengthen and renew joy ~ PRAY CHRIST'S "GLORY-STRENGTH FOR SOMEONE TODAY! ~dho

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Preparing for Easter ~ Go!

Easter Sunday ~

More surely than ever before, I know now that we are called to give our very lives to one another and that, in so doing, we become a true community of love.
Henri Nouwen from Life of the Beloved (pg. 115)

In The True Vine, Andrew Murray writes of Christ's joy: His joy is nothing but the joy of love, of being loved and of loving. It was the joy of receiving His Father's love and abiding in it, and then the joy of passing on that love and pouring it out on sinners. Christ is Perfect Love offered to imperfect people. Like His disciples and His closest followers, we are imperfect people yet perfectly loved by Jesus.

Read John 20:19-23 (for the complete story of the resurrection, see John 20-21.)

As He spoke, He held out His hands for them to see, and He showed them His side. They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord! He spoke to them again and said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you."
John 20:20-21 NLT

On Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection, Jesus appears to several people, each Gospel giving a similar but varying account of all those who witnessed the risen Savior. John writes of Jesus coming in the evening to the disciples who are meeting behind locked doors fearing the Jewish leaders. Jesus offers them peace and joy; He reminds them this assurance comes from the Father. He breathes the Holy Spirit into them. Christ prepares them to take the Good News of redemption and reconciliation into the world. The root of Christ's joy is the Father's love.

Jesus gives us the same command today, saying as the Father has sent Me, so send I you. We are to carry the Good News of His amazing grace into the world. We are to build up the community of faith by sharing His love. Christ prepares us with His peace and affirms us with His joy. After Christ returned to Heaven at Pentecost, the Spirit came to dwell within the hearts of all believers. The sure foundation of our joy is Christ ~ Perfect Love.

Consider this!
  • Imagine being in the room with the disciples when Jesus "suddenly" appears. Describe their joy!
  • How does Jesus model the task of sharing the Gospel?
  • Have you experienced the resurrected Jesus? How will you share such Perfect Love?
Blessed Assurance ~ You are Eternal Love! I am overwhelmed that the love of the Father and the grace of the Son and the presence of the Spirit are mine! You choose me and love me and send me to be a witness for You. Your unfailing faithfulness and enduring love prepare my heart with peace and joy! You empower me to tell my faith-story. With the joy of Christ, I go! Amen. ~dho
a special note:  These Easter devotions are dedicated to: 
God-of-the-Angel-Armies - Your promises give me life, and I delight in being Yours.  
Thank you to Steve Swanson and WAFJ for the opportunity to share the message of God's Promises and Perfect Love. ~ dho
for all the "Preparing for Easter" devotions and more ~  
"breathing Room for my soul"   
All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author
Copyright 2009 by Donna Oswalt                                                                                             

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Preparing for Easter ~ Waiting!

And He departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. Augustine

The Sabbath began at sundown on Friday, and this one even more special as it was the beginning of Passover. Passover was celebrated by the Jews to recall the time the plague of death 'passed over' their homes as they were delivered from Egypt. To prevent having the first born males die, they were to take the blood of the sacrificed lamb and place it on the door frame of the house. [see Exodus 12 for complete text] But this particular Passover the Lamb of God had been sacrificed, Christ's blood shed for all. 

Read John 19:38-42

And so, because it was the day of preparation before the Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Just before sundown Friday, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, secret disciples of Jesus, asked Pilate for Jesus' body, quickly prepared the body and carefully placed Him in the tomb. Fearing the Jewish leaders, these members of the Jewish high council had kept their following of Jesus a secret until now. And Jesus' body lay in the tomb as Passover began. 

There was little written about that Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath that fell between the crucifixion on Friday and the resurrection on Sunday. There would have been no work, only time for worship and rest. For those who mourned Jesus' death, there was much time for reflection of recent events, remembering of times shared, and recollections of countless miracles. They did not understand what had happened. They waited.

Consider this!
  • What risks did Joseph and Nicodemus take?
  • What thoughts might the disciples have had during this time?
  • Does Jesus live within your heart? If yes, do you ever keep your faith a secret?

Lord ~ What happens when the world denies You, and I keep silent? What happens when the world mocks You, and I turn away? Lord, You must weep at my selfish response. What happens when You offer hope that is eternal, and I do not share this Good News? What happens when You love with amazing grace, and I do not share this forgiveness? Lord, You must weep at my casual faith. Forgive me when weakness wins the battle inside my soul. In these times of struggle, I call to You and always find You waiting for me. Amen. ~dho
All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author

Copyright 2009 by Donna Oswalt                                                                                                                                                             



Friday, April 22, 2011

Preparing for Easter ~ "Crucify"

Good Friday

We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people. Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest

The account of the trial and crucifixion of Christ is in all the Gospels. Like reading the Christmas story in Luke each year, this is the day we remember, listen to or read for ourselves the recorded history of Jesus' last hours on earth. Unlike the Christmas story, this one is harder to hear. Full of partial truths and truths ignored, betrayals and beatings, cowards and cynics, guilt and innocence, the story lets us walk the Via Dolorosa with Jesus and the crowd as we call, "Crucify! Crucify!"

Read John 18:28-19:42

Jesus fulfills the Scripture, lives God's Plan of salvation for us, willingly and obediently in detail. He is crucified between two thieves, a picture of disgrace and disillusionment for those who doubt Him, those who believe in Him, those who love Him. And the crowd? From Hallelujah! to Crucify! in a week's time, the crowd scatters and scorns with uncertainty. We stand in the crowd, both watching and wondering, fickle and frightened, confused and concerned.

Today, we are still standing in the crowd - we are the everyday people. We either endure the everyday beatings or participate in them. We either determine our worth and applaud our own plans, or we confess our sins and need for Grace. We either seek the world's approval or humbly accept God's plan. We are arrogant or obedient, either rolling the dice for a piece of Jesus or embracing the completeness of Perfect Love. We are the everyday reasons that Jesus is broken bread and poured out wine.

Consider this!
  • Why did the Jewish leaders say they wanted Jesus put to death?
  • Did Pilate find Jesus guilty?
  • Matthew 27:35-44; Mark 15:25-32; Luke 23:32-43; John 19:18-27: These are the Gospel's accounts of Jesus being placed on the cross. List all the people around the cross. What names are missing from the list that you would have expected?

Holy Father ~ My heart comes to the foot of the cross and recognizes Jesus as the Son of the Most High, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I kneel and bow and weep that my sins nail Him to the cross, place the crown of thorns on His head, mock Him and reject Him. And still, He loves me more than I can understand. He willingly is battered and endured the beatings for me, for all of us. Forgiveness is mine. Grace reigns. Help me seek Your vision for my life. Let me endure what I must to honor You, to give You glory. Holy! Holy! Holy! You are Lord! Amen. ~dho
All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author
Copyright 2009 by Donna Oswalt                                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Preparing for Easter ~ Betrayal and Intercession

Maundy Thursday

"You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give him the kiss of greeting." Judas Iscariot (Matthew 29:49 NLT)

Betrayal robs more than loyalty; it robs the soul. Judas, one of the twelve disciples, one within the inner circle of Jesus, accepts thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Afterwards, disgraced and without reconciliation, Judas takes his own life. His actions demonstrate a lack of sincere commitment to Jesus. Judas, the pretender.

"I swear by God, I don't know this man you're talking about."
Peter, the disciple of Christ
(Mark 14:71 NLT)

s Jesus gathers His disciples together one last time, He tells them that they would all desert Him. Peter's loyalty disagrees, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will." (Mark 14:29) But just as Jesus predicts - three times Peter denies knowing Christ. When he realizes he has betrayed his own vow, Peter breaks down and cries. Later, after the resurrection, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love Me?" Peter responds each time, "Yes, Lord, I love You!" Jesus restores Peter, tells him, "Follow Me." Peter becomes the first great leader of the early church. Peter, the repentant.

Read John 17

Consider this!
  • Meditate on this beautiful prayer that Jesus prayed. For whom was He praying?
  • This prayer is called the "High Priestly Prayer." Why do you think it is called that?
  • Do you ask Jesus to intercede for you?
Eternal Intercessor ~ My prayers rise to You, full of wordless gratitude for undeserved grace. Forgive me when I betray You in my deeds and with my words. Sin is the easier choice. But You have restored me with Amazing Grace. You call, "Follow Me!" I reply, "Yes, Lord, I love You!" Amen. ~dho
All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author
Copyright 2009 by Donna Oswalt