Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pray for Your Friends - Part 2 ~ Series on Friendship

Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:3-4 The Message

Scripture supports praying for one another, praying to give encouragement, to love each other, to admit sins, to bring comfort. [some examples: Job 42:8, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 27:17, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 1:9-12, James 5:16Do your own search of prayer.] God calls Believers to offer inspiration and compassion to others within the community of faith. For all the unique differences that every individual celebrates, our commonality in Christ is greater. In praying for His friends, Jesus teaches all His followers empathy and love that matures in a growing, personal relationship with God.

True prayer is intimate and relational; it must be Christ-focused not self-focused. Being deep-spirited friends requires putting others ahead of ourselves, requires a self-less and obedient heart. Keith Miller writes, Prayer no longer seems like an activity to me; it has become the continuing language of the relationship I believe God designed to fulfill a human life. Within prayer, this continuing language of the relationship choreographs an intricate dance from the random rhythms that the day brings. Prayer engages the soul; it is no longer simply something we do. By blending holy mystery with human experience, our relationship with God cultivates a more meaningful life. In praying for our friends with genuine humility instead of partisan obligation, we exchange the world's empty glory with authentic living for God's Glory! Lord, I long to be a deep-spirited friend that loves others for Your Glory! ~dho

Prayer engages the soul; it is no longer simply something we do. Donna Oswalt

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pray For Your Friends - Part 1 ~ Series on Friendship

[Jesus said] "I'm praying not only for [the disciples] but also for those who will believe in Me because of them and their witness about Me. The goal is for all of them to become one  heart and mind - Just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so that they might be one heart and mind with Us. Then the world might believe that You, in fact, send Me." John 17:20 The Message 

Jesus teaches many lessons on prayer, but the glimpses into His personal prayer times speak the most powerful testimonies. Jesus would often pray alone. Perhaps He was seeking guidance and wisdom or simply sitting at His Father's feet talking about the day. Even on the cross Jesus prays, asking forgiveness for His persecutors. Hours before His arrest, Jesus prays for the disciples. Found in John 17 and known as the High-priestly prayer, Jesus offers intercessory prayer for His followers, first praying for the disciples, then for all Believers to come. Completely relational, this prayer reveals the unifying layers of God's plan: the Son and the Father, the Son and the Believer, Believers to each other, and witnesses to the world. Unity in love giving glory to God evidences each of these relationships.

Marking the end of Jesus' earthly ministry, this holy prayer begins His role as Infinite Intercessor for us. Hebrews 7:25 affirms that Jesus always lives to make intercession for those who come to God through Him. The privilege of prayer emerges as a divine invitation and evolves into a mutual dialogue with God. Just as Jesus reveals His unique relationship with the Father, every Believer can step into the Holy of Holies because of Jesus. As I travel back to that night over 2,000 years ago, I hear Jesus pray for me. I hear Jesus pray for you. Still today, Christ brings our petitions to the King. Holy Spirit, kindle my heart with Christ's love for God's Glory! ~ dho

The privilege of prayer emerges as a divine invitation and evolves into a mutual dialogue with God. ~ Donna Oswalt

next week Part 2 of Pray For Your Friends

Thursday, August 15, 2013

An Unlikely Friendship ~ Series on Friendship

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double minded. James 4:8 NASB 

Recently, I read this book entitled Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer Holland, writer for National Geographic magazine. There are nearly 50 stories of animals who become unlikely friends. From an African elephant and a sheep to the owlet and a greyhound, accounts of varied animal species demonstrating unexpected compassion and friendship spill across the pages, not to mention beautiful photography. One story included of a baby hippo and a 130 year old tortoise made the rounds on Facebook a few years ago! They actually have their own book, Owen and Mzee, A True Story of a Remarkable Friendship. In her observations, Barbara King, animal behaviorist, describes Owen's and Mzee's mutual communication as sophisticated, "It's a dynamic dance between two species with no present program on how to deal with each other. And it can't just be instinct, because one was shaping its behavior to the other."

That a Holy God would choose to have a relationship with me, a broken sinner, simply boggles my imagination. This Amazing Grace pours over the dark and ugly parts of my nature making me a new creation in Him. Christ wraps me in a robe of righteousness inviting me to sit at His Table. Jesus says, "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love." Responding, I confess my inability to be good or to love apart from Christ. A spiritual dance begins between ancient holiness and growing faith. My heart desires to be more like Christ; His love teaching me to love completely, His grace influencing me to live abundantly. The Savior and a sinner ~ this is truly an unlikely friendship, one shaping its behavior to the other. ~ dho

My heart desires to be more like Christ; His love teaching me to love completely, His grace influencing me to live abundantly. ~Donna Oswalt

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Jesus-Centered Friendship ~ Series on Friendship

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your current culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 The Message

Recently a friend reminded me of an old hymn, Jesus Is All The World To Me. Its words begin: Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all; each verse ends with He's my friend. The words of this hymn reinforce the theology of living a Jesus-Centered life. In times of sadness, trials, and blessings, at beginnings and endings, and into eternity, Jesus provides everything we need. This divine promise for us hinges on whether or not we make Jesus the center of our world. The world stands full of contradictions and excuses luring us away from an intimate relationship with Jesus.

To become a living and holy sacrifice, an offering to God, one must accept the cost of obedience. The world's prince, Satan, never reveals the price of disobedience; rather, he charms the mind with unattainable more, teases the heart with fading hope, and leaves the soul with elusive satisfaction. To conform to culture's expectations only fuels futility, but through the Holy Spirit comes a spiritual transformation that is the foundation of discipleship. A Jesus-Centered life merges righteousness and holiness combining spiritual worship and holy living.

God's Grace opens the door to having a Jesus-Centered life. Our response comes next. Peterson's The Message describes how to take our everyday, ordinary life and embrace God! To recognize God in a culture that proudly denies Him, to give generously within a culture that takes selfishly, to hold faithfully to God's promises in a culture that persecutes His truth, to value life surrounded by a culture that marginalizes weakness, to love others more boldly than culture hates God - THIS is to be transformed by Jesus. When one truly embraces God, every aspect of living should reflect Christ's Light into the world. Then the soul can sing, "Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all. . . Eternal life- Eternal joy- He's my friend!"  ~ dho

In times of sadness, trials, and blessings, at beginnings and endings, and into eternity, 
Jesus provides everything we need. This divine promise for us hinges on whether or not 
we make Jesus the center of our world.  ~ Donna Oswalt

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Earthly Friends ~ Series on Friendship

"You did not choose Me; I chose you! Put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil." John 15:16a The Message

Two years ago, our family found themselves face to face with the unthinkable ~ my nephew at age 9 was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Rushed to Duke Children's Hospital for surgery, much of the tumor was removed. Subsequent physical therapy and 30 radiation treatments were still to come, but he got to go home first. 

Journal entry:

Welcome Home!

Written Jul 28, 2011 12:04pm
His banner over me is love!
Song of Solomon 2:4

God's banner over us is love! This is His marker or standard, His flag that waves over us saying that He chooses us, He loves us, He offers us mercy. We are the recipients of God's loving kindness. When we belong to God, we find ourselves overcome by His Unmeasured Love.

As you can see, Thomas has some very generous earthly friends who love him very much,too. This banner shouts of love, shouts with joy, shouts Welcome Home!

Arriving around 7pm Wednesday night, this was the sight the McGirrs saw as the pulled into home. Now, that's a BIG BANNER of LOVE! If you look closely, right in the middle on the front steps is Tropper ~waiting for Thomas!

Welcome Home, Thomas! The next few days will be ones of healing and scheduling. Every day I will post an update. So, y'all come back now! PT begins tomorrow. 

To God be the Glory ~ dho

Now, two years later, Thomas is a rising 6th grader and remains cancer free. (He still gets MRI scans every 6 months.) We celebrate God's Infinite Goodness and the earthly friends who became the hands and feet of Jesus as they walked this journey with us. God desires each of us to become His Eternal Friend and chooses us to demonstrate His love to others on this earth. When we belong to God, we find ourselves overcome by His Unmeasured Love. God's banner over us is love! ~ dho

When we belong to God, we find ourselves overcome 
by His Unmeasured Love. Donna Oswalt
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