Thursday, May 02, 2024

Place and Purpose

The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.  Fredrick Buechner

We search the world for meaning, for purpose, for reasons. When the world does not offer wanted answers, we wonder if God has forgotten us. If we pray to God for meaning, for purpose, for reasons, and He does not respond as we expect, we doubt that God is listening. We crave more and more of the world's tokens, collecting the trophies of greed and pride; yet, we are empty. And still, God calls to us and seeks us ~ wherever we are. God has designed a purpose for each of us ~ a place to serve. God abides with us ~ in all times. Perhaps it is we who have forgotten; it is we who are not listening.

What kind of God lets us confess what He already knows? What kind of God listens to our petitions when He knows we will fail again? What kind of God forgives our mistakes just because we ask? What kind of God loves more than enough? What kind of God calls us Beloved? Mercy comes quietly and whispers with tender words ~ My Beloved, you are Mine. You are forgiven. I will never let you go. Now, let's be about My purpose. There's a harvest waiting. I love you. Baruch Hashem Adonai! Blessed be the name of the Lord! What peace! Amen. ~ dho

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Empty Hands

God always pours His grace into empty hands. ~St. Augustine

I sometimes find my hands too full, holding all the moments that charm me, claim me, constrain me, conceal me. Sometimes I hold to them in fear that I will lose them or not find them again. Then, sometimes I hold to them in joy for the same reasons. Either way, I hold to them tightly, hands full! Only when I lay them at the altar, in confession or celebration, can I open my hands to the Holy Father. The vivid imagery that comes to my mind is kneeling with my hands empty, palms up, and knowing His grace falls gently to me.  

Holy Father, may we know Your Glory in our every moment. ~ dho

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Acts of Worship

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God proclaiming our allegiance to His name. And don’t forget to do good and share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.                                                                       Hebrews 13:15-16 NLT

What is a SACRIFICE?
- an offering of dedication and thankfulness to God for His provision 
- an offering to honor a covenant with God 
- an offering which is commanded by God 

Consider Hebrews 13:15-16 in The Message:
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship, a different kind of sacrifice – that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

What will I offer as an act of worship ~ a different kind of sacrifice to God? ~dho

Friday, April 12, 2024

God-created Identity

Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. Matthew 5:48 The Message

The Message uses different words than other translations with most expressing verse 48: You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Peterson is likely trying to steer our minds away from a preconceived idea of "perfect". Often we associate being perfect as an impossible goal. In our mind God's perfection is less of a stumbling block, but because of our imperfect and frail humanity we fall short of perfect every time. So what does Jesus mean when He says you and I "must be perfect"? 

Perfect refers to completeness, to a maturity in our character. When we trust Jesus, He defines us, gives us a new identity. The Holy Spirit dwells within us teaching us to become more like Jesus. And Jesus teaches us to live generously and graciously toward others, to love others in His name. Our natures are not so generous or gracious, and we find ourselves imperfect or incomplete without Jesus. Because God loves us with an everlasting love and offers us unmeasured grace, we are to live like Him. Without Jesus, we do not have the ability to live without malice or envy, prejudice or indifference, self-righteousness or injustice. With Jesus, each of us is created new, given a God-created identity. So, become complete with Jesus; live generously and love others completely! Love as God loves! ~ dho

Friday, April 05, 2024

Living Faith

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.  Jude 24-25 NKJV

Only 25 verses long, Jude's letter to the 1st century Christians continues to echo through millenniums to us, the 21st century Christians. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, brother of James and author of the Epistle of James, writes this letter around 60-64 AD to warn believers of false teachers and to encourage believers to live holy lives. Two hundred centuries later, these words still warn and encourage us. The writer of Ecclesiastes concludes, "There is nothing new under the sun." The same sinfulness and truthfulness still battle for control today. Warren Wiersbe's commentary in the Transformation Study Bible makes it simple and clear: The truth doesn't change; it applies fresh every day. 

In verses 20-23, Jude gives us a lesson in authentic faith, a living faith. With Christ, our faith becomes holiness, our prayers rise through the Holy Spirit, and mercy is ours in His love. Christ calls us to live lives of compassion and discernment, lives full of His love. Jude, like his brother James, gives a call to authentic faith, a faith of words and deeds, a faith that demonstrates the grace of Christ. How does your faith look? How does your faith live? Do those in your circle of influence find your faith journey to be marked by authentic faith?

The last two verses are a doxology full of praise to God, the only One who is wise, the only One worthy of praise, the only One that is both glory and majesty, authority and power. Only God offers grace that invites us into His presence both now and forever. This evokes both Hallelujah and AMEN to sing together deep inside my soul!!  ~ dho

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Lent - Maundy Thursday - Bread and Wine of Jesus

 Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35 

For every time you east this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until He comes again. 1 Corinthians 11:26 NLT

In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses the people regarding the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Frequently in the first century church, a fellowship meal often precedes the celebration of bread and wine. Paul reiterates the purpose of coming to the table together using Jesus’ words from the Gospels: This is My body, which is given for you and This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of My blood. He reminds these believers that they are one body united in Christ. To honor Christ this way demonstrates unity within the body by remembering the new covenant given by Jesus through His death and resurrection and in proclaiming the promise that Christ will return again. Jesus echoes, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

This Holy Thursday Christians across the world will gather to remember the night Jesus hosts this memorial meal, will listen again to ancient but familiar words, will consider the cost of everlasting hope. On the night before His death and after a fellowship meal with the disciples, Jesus breaks the bread and pours the wine, says to remember His death and sacrifice for the sins of the world. Because of Jesus, our places of brokenness and suffering always find hope. Oswald Chambers frequently gives the call to believers of the body of Christ, “Be the broken bread and poured out wine.” Let us, the body of Christ united by grace, be the tangible bread and wine to others by sharing the love of Christ and His infinite hope. Jesus echoes, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Lord ~ You are my Hope in all directions, in every circumstance; You go before me, surround me, send Your angels to protect me. Without Your brokenness there would be no wholeness; without Your sacrifice there would be no hope. You bind my broken dreams and failures, take my empty places and loneliness and bring me into Your presence. This communion renews my soul and refocuses my heart. While praying, Lord, always give us this bread, I am embraced by Perfect Peace. Help me be bread and wine of Jesus to others. ~ dho

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Lent - “I Am This Bread”

 Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35    

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”      John 6:35 NKJV

Teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, telling those who crowd in to hear, Jesus explains the bread of God comes down from heaven. The crowd says, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Recognizing their spiritual blindness, Jesus clarifies, “I am the bread of life.” The Bread of heaven is spiritual food that completely nourishes the soul. Jesus declares “I am this bread!”

Listening but not understanding, the people struggle with the spiritual concept. Jesus, the Messiah, the Bread of heaven, sits in front of them, speaks directly to them; yet, they do not believe. Today, the Living Bread of heaven still calls each person into a relationship with Him, offers to love us, to meet all our spiritual needs, but like these people 2,000 years ago, we hesitate and sometimes step back further into the crowd. Jesus sees our uncertainty but repeats believe in Me. Jesus waits, and we remain hungry! 

Bread of life ~ sometimes my thoughts are dull and shallow. I say, Lord, always give us this bread, but I miss Your point. Believing doesn’t mean the answers will be simple or the questions easy, doesn’t come with a guarantee of life without difficulty or disappointment. As I find my nourishment in You, I discover new strength for the sadness, fresh hope for the hard times, and  inner joy for the journey. Jesus, I believe! – dho

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Lent - Spiritual Hunger

Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35               

Jesus replied, “I am the Bread of Life. No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in Me will never thirst. . . I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live.” John 6:35,58 NLT

Jesus uses bread to explain the difference between meeting the physical needs of hunger and the spiritual needs of redemption. Our physical life requires ongoing nutrition to survive, while our spiritual growth requires an ongoing relationship with Jesus. The greatest difference between bread and living bread is that in Christ our souls know permanent nourishment, everlasting sustenance. 

How does one eat living bread? Believing that Christ’s death and resurrection brings each one new life and trusting the Holy Spirit for guidance is the beginning. Continuing to grow in our knowledge and faith sustains us. Sharing the Good News of Jesus, sharing the living bread with others gives an even deeper satisfaction. Christ came down out of heaven, and Perfect Love offered Himself so the world may live.
  • Hungry? How much time do you spend feeding your soul with Gods word? 
  • Will you commit to spending time with God - daily?

Living Bread ~ I am fed by an offering I cannot explain. Bread of Heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more. My God-story is full! – dho

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Lent - Bread of the Presence

Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35                                                                                       

Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before Me at all times. Exodus 25:30 NLT

In giving explicit instructions to Moses about building a holy sanctuary, God’s plan is to be present with His people. Chapters 25-27 in Exodus provide the specific details for the Tabernacle in which the Ark of the Covenant would stay. The Tabernacle includes two distinct areas: an outer space called the Holy Place where the lampstand (menorah), the table, and the Bread of the Presence would be, and an inner space known as the Most Holy Place surrounded by curtains where the Ark of the Covenant stays. This Bread of the Presence, 12 loaves of unleavened bread baked fresh each week before the Sabbath, must be placed on the holy table in two piles of six to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. The Bread of the Presence depicts the people’s offering to God and God’s desire to always be present with His people.

Only to be eaten by the priests in a holy place, the Bread of the Presence of the Tabernacle can symbolize Jesus, the Bread of Life, an offering of atonement to God. Christ, as the true High Priest, enters the Most Holy Place as a blood sacrifice, an offering for all people. Christ becomes the New Covenant offering atonement for sins, offering forgiveness and grace and everlasting life. Jesus, the Holy One, becomes true bread, spiritual bread that satisfies the hungry. Jesus, always present, is the Bread of Life.

Lord, my life needs something constant and knowing You are always present calms me, reassures me, comforts me. Lord, always give us this bread.” Bread of the Presence and Bread of Life, Holy, Holy, Holy! I fall to my knees aware of Your unlimited love and grace. – dho

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Lent - Up to Jerusalem

 Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35               

As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51 NIV

Jesus spent the last months of ministry making His final journey up to Jerusalem. This verse in Luke’s Gospel announces the turning point in Jesus’ ministry. Focus on His teaching ministry changes, and Jesus begins to prepare the Disciples and Himself for His destiny, the cross. Over the next months Jesus repeatedly explains to the Disciples that He will suffer beatings and betrayal, death and resurrection. Christian discipleship always comes down to the cross!

Scholars call Luke 9:51 through Luke 19:44 the “travel narrative”. Jesus and the disciples minister to people from Galilee to Jerusalem. Parables and healing, opposition and rejection become lessons about the cost of discipleship. Plots to kill and schemes to discredit both challenge and confront Jesus’ authority. Up to Jerusalem really describes Jesus in steadfast determination and faithful obedience to accomplish His assigned mission. God’s plan requires a journey to the cross!

Lord, I, too, know something about suffering and betrayal, rejection and confrontation. Like the disciples, I, too, do not always understand. In the shadow of the cross, I pray, Lord, always give us this bread to sustain me, to strengthen my resolve as I go up to my Jerusalem. - dho

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Lent - Impossible Bread

Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35                                                                                    

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” John 6:9 NKJV

When Jesus asks Philip where they could buy bread, he replies that 200 days’ wages would be necessary to feed such a crowd; it’s not realistic. Andrew finds a young boy with some barley loaves and fish. Barley, not wheat, is the type grain the poor use to make bread. These loaves are more like small flat wafers and the fish more like sardines, a modest meal for the boy. What a contrast between Philip’s estimation of the bread’s cost and the food in hand! The problem seems impossible.

Throughout the Bible, God does the impossible with less, the miraculous with little. Most of us seldom give sacrificially; seldom do we even give generously. Like feeding 20,000 people with a poor boy’s small lunch, Jesus takes our sparse offerings and multiplies them for the blessings of others. Consumerism stands on every corner luring us to spend money. What a contrast between how much we spend on a TV to watch the world’s news and what we give to share the Good News of Christ! With God, the impossible becomes possible! 

Miracle Worker, do a miracle within my heart! Show me true poverty that I might understand need. Multiply my time and talents and money for Your Glory! Lord, always give us this bread.”  Help me see Your possibilities! – dho

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Lent ~ Ash Wednesday

Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:3

In spiritual preparation to begin His ministry and after fasting forty days in the wilderness, Jesus is tired, weak, and hungry. Satan tempts Jesus. With each of the three temptations, Jesus rebukes the offer quoting Scripture from Deuteronomy. Led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus shields Himself with God’s Holy Word. Spiritual warfare always desires to interrupt God’s plan.

As we begin our forty day journey to spiritual renewal, we, too, are surrounded by spiritual warfare, tempted to take short-cuts or feel important or avoid hardship. Sometimes in our weakness we choose temptation’s path only to become disappointed and disillusioned at its end. Jesus tells us, “I AM the bread of life.” Needing more than food to sustain us, we desperately need spiritual nourishment that can only come from Jesus. 

God Almighty, I kneel before You, resting my weariness, laying down my frail attempts to succeed by my own efforts. Mark me a sinner, one who has failed but is willing to try again. Renew my starving spirit; let my prayer be, Lord, always give us this bread.” 
– dho

Thursday, February 08, 2024


He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved - surprised to be loved2 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)

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Divine Agenda

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

How easy to go about our daily routines of gathering and doing! This woman went to the well to get water, a daily task. In going about her ordinary task, she encounters Jesus and is never the same again. Others, too, are changed because she tells her story. The author of “A Tree Full of Angels” paints a beautiful picture of finding more that expected in the ordinary task when we lay down our own agenda and go with God’s agenda! Living Water fills us up when we make room for Jesus.

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. ~ dho

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Woven Together

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up. 
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do. 
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to 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—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…

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered! 
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!…

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:1-6,13-18, 23-24 NLT

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. ~dho

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Into Community

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

The Cloister walkway of Salisbury Cathedral

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

* Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, England; the largest cloister in Britain. Build between 1220-1258. Photo/dho@2023

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Abundant Grace

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 chosen less tears or easier circumstances? Of course, 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. 

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 possibility.

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. 

Friday, January 05, 2024

A Fresh Start

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