Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fresh Wind in My Sails!

The peace of God is perfection of energy; it is a healthy vigor of the soul. Oswald Chambers

Fall is here! Summer's memories, along with its sand and shells, trails and travels, laughter and living, are tucked into bags and drawers and photos. School is back in session, and a change is in the air; summer rests as leaves change, daylight shortens, and Autumn's plans begin to fill the calendar. Relaxed schedules have merged into routines. As a new season begins, the heart hopes that God's peace will be more than enough and desires God's love to become its deepest joy. Our prayers search for words to refresh the soul with a new beginning.

In the Union Prayer Book for Jewish Worship, I find these words:

Help us, O God, to banish from our hearts all vainglory, pride of worldly possessions, and self-sufficient leaning upon our own reason. Fill us with the spirit of meekness and the grace of modesty that we may grow in wisdom and in reverence. May we never forget that all we have and prize is but lent to us, a trust for which we must render account to Thee. O heavenly Father, put into our hearts the love and awe of Thee, that we may consecrated our lives to Thy service and glorify Thy name in the eyes of all men.
While energy is the capacity to do work, potential energy is energy that exists in a body as a result of its position or condition. Wisdom and grace fall gently from God reminding us of His generous provisions. His power and love exceed our capacity to understand. Letting God be the source of our energy is the only way we can truly prepare our hearts to know His peace and our hands to serve others. But how do we position ourselves to receive such awesome energy?
I will build an altar of the broken fragments of my heart, and will bow my spirit within me. My broken spirit - that is Thy sacrifice; let it be acceptable upon Thine altar. I will proclaim aloud Thy praise, I will declare all Thy wonders. Hymn of Unity, 12th Century
As I search for words to refresh my soul for this new season, I search His Word for the potential energy necessary to move my heart into position to do His work. These words from Psalm 51:12 The Message  become my prayer: Put fresh wind in my sails! Will you ask Him too? ~dho

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Where's the Proof?"

In the late 1500's and early 1600's, Galileo became a scientist that influenced many areas of mathematics, astronomy, physics and philosophy. A devout Catholic, Galileo's understandings of the universe differed with the accepted view that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun and all planets revolved around the earth. Through his studies and observations, he concluded that the earth revolved around the sun. The Pope and the church leaders thought this was heresy. They believed his theories were contrary to the Holy Scriptures. A Roman Inquisition of Galileo forbid him to speak of these theories. Ultimately, he was put under house arrest for the rest of his life. The scientific truth ~ Galileo's theory which was proven in time ~ eventually provided evidence to those who did not believe. Sometimes, giving proof is hard!

Proof is defined as sufficient evidence for a truth statement. "The Sixth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary" explains burden of proof this way:

"Ei incumbit provatio, qui dicit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probatio nulla sit . . . The proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies; since, by the nature of things, he who denies cannot produce any proof."
Atheists and God-seekers alike want proof of God. Doubt inside our frail humanity shouts its insecurity, "How do you know? What proof do you have? Most often evidence is drawn from our experiences combined with evidence from nature. Even the greatest scholars confess the great mysteries of God exceed explanation. So where's the proof?

WE are the proof - you and me, God's children, those of us who identify with Christ, who call Him Savior. OUR LIVES are the proof that God loves! This very sobering thought raises a new awareness in me. What evidence of Christ does my life offer? Does my life story speak the love of Christ?

Years ago there was a question asked, "What if you are the only Jesus someone sees?" Those who struggle with walking by faith often expect or demand answers to their theological questions. We respond that the Holy Scriptures reveal God and His plan of Grace through faith for all mankind. While we many not understand all that is written within these God-breathed words, God's message of love is clear. As Christians we are to love God and love each other. We are called to love as Christ loves! The way we love becomes the evidence that we understand God's message. We are the proof of His love! ~dho

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spiritual Dance

A few years ago, 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, September 08, 2016

September and Childhood Cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and each year we wear GOLD to support the cause. Thomas, my nephew, is a brain cancer survivor. He is now 14, but July 2011 tells a different story, a story of an unimaginable diagnosis but amazing recovery. A freshman in High School, he is active in Boy Scouts earning 15 badges this summer and nearing the rank of Eagle Scout. This summer he joined me and some folks from church on a mission trip to French Camp Academy in Mississippi. He sings with the High School Praise and Worship team at his school, does well academically, and is active in their drama productions. To God be the Glory!

During the difficult days and weeks of diagnosis, surgery, physical therapy, radiation treatments, and recovery, we kept a journal on Caring Bridge. Here is the link if you want to read some of the journal entries (just click here and choose JOURNAL). We love and trust a faithful God. In His choosing to heal Thomas, we can only believe He has even greater plans to come for Thomas' life. During this journey, many we met have not survived their cancer. With each loss comes questions, but we continue to trust an unchanging and loving God who sees a much bigger picture than we can see. This is a link to one journal entry - a time of celebration after a difficult season of treatments and therapy, a time of giving back, and a year of hoping for a complete cure! Happy 11th Birthday! 

Thomas' last MRI in May was clear. He can now reduce the number of scans to one time a year. On November 31, 2016, we will celebrate "5 Years Cancer Clear"! While there will not be a party with a 100 people, the 5th year will be no less of a celebration than the 1st year. Our hearts will be full of gratitude, and our praise will continue to offer glory to God. 

Each year in the U.S. there are an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. Globally there are more than 250,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. Every 3 minutes, somewhere in the world a family hears the devastating words that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. 
Here is a video of Thomas' journey with brain cancer and his heart's gratitude for healing!

Friday, September 02, 2016

Make a Difference!

* Summer is coming to a close, and so will "Friday's Summer Fruits" series! It has been good to share random "fruit" during this season of random routines. Thanks for doing some planting and growing this season. Hope your summer has been fruitful; now the harvest time is calling! - dho

My last summer fruit is a book that I just finished by Deidra Riggs called Every Little Thing, with a foreward by Ann Voskamp Last fall I had the lovely experience of sharing a table (and dinner) with Deidra and her delightful mother when I attended a Christian Women's Writers' Conference called Allume. Deidra, an author and speaker, brings the truth as she reminds that God chooses us to do His work. Our excuses are many. Her language convicts us:

We are "just" the car pool lane sitters, the diaper changers, the dish washers, the cubicle workers, the second-job holders, the lawn mowers, the pancake flippers, the rule followers, the occasional Sunday morning churchgoers, the Saturday night Netflixers, the Facebook status updaters, the one-mile joggers, the regular everyday ordinary us. -Deidra Riggs 
Not only does God choose us, He loves us, forgives us, and equips us for the tasks. Riggs tells personal stories that take you from her experience to her revelation about God. She tells it like it is: We either want significance or we want God. We must surrender to God's plan by laying down our personal agendas, the choices we think will look best, the options that others pick for us. 
As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God's interests. Oswald Chambers 
Deidra, a pastor's wife, writes about being authentic, about being who we are, about living in the present moment, about living "the gospel of Christ". "Christ invites be exactly who we are, in the places we find ourselves, and to be infused with the salty goodness that comes when we surrender our lives and our agendas and our hopes and dreams to the power and the control of the Holy Spirit." Words that encourage and empower fill the pages. Check out Deidra's website which gives you glimpses into her speaking and a new book coming soon! -dho

Deidra Riggs is a blogger, author, speaker. She and her husband live in Nebraska and have two adult children.