31 January 2011

A Picture of Peace

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23

Have you ever been around someone who seems so at peace in who they are and what they believe in? That type of peace is contagious!

The virtues of peace can be described by words such as joy, delight, happiness, pleasure, contentment and wonder, all forming a continuous circle with God at the center. The words of Galatians 5:22-23 tell us that one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace. This peace can only come from the Holy Spirit working in our hearts. As our spiritual journey continues, our faith grows stronger and we gain a certainty in knowing just how much God loves us. We also realize that He is always faithful in both the big and little things that we go through. When we have a peace that is found in God alone, balanced with the other fruits of the spirit, our lives become a testimony to those around us.

When I first started writing this blog, I said that this year-long journey was a challenge to "seek personal and spiritual peace in my life" – heart, soul, surroundings and relationships. I think this is a good time for me to take an inventory of my spiritual fruit and make sure my life is truly reflecting “good fruit.” You see, the fruits of the Spirit are not a Wish List.  Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts to equip us for ministry, and that we can’t pick and choose our fruits. While we may not come to maturity in the fruits of the Spirit all at once, we do need to strive to produce a balance of all nine fruits working together in harmony. Jesus’ perspective on this can be found in the words of John 15:2... “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Why not join me in assessing our “fruits of the Spirit” together, by taking this two-part inventory....

... First, are there any fruits of the Spirit that we need to work on? Answers may be found by studying the list of questions below.

LoveDo you accept and serve your family and others without expecting anything in return?
JoyDo you delight in your relationship with God? Is He your source of pleasure?
PeaceIs your comfort and security based on your belief that God is in control, no matter what happens in your life? Do you trust God in all circumstances?
ForbearanceDo you have patience and tolerance even when circumstances may not be what you expect? Do you accept changes, delays, interruptions, or things you can’t control, with grace?
KindnessDo you go out of your way to help those in need? Do you reflect God’s kindness by showing sympathy and compassion for others?
GoodnessAre you able to do what is right and avoid what is wrong? Do you seek to live an honest life with good moral standards?
FaithfulnessAre you trustworthy and reliable when it comes to honoring your commitments to God and others?
GentlenessWould you describe yourself as humble, thoughtful and considerate? Are you quick to listen and slow to speak/ judge? Do you have a teachable spirit?
Self-controlDo you have will-power, discipline and try to avoid sin (uncontrollable behavior/ addictions), living your life to please God?

... Second, who or what is constantly working to steal our peace and joy? Once we determine the answer to this question, we can ask God to guard our heart, mind and spirit against attack.  No matter what happens in our lives, we have a choice! We can be fearful, troubled, angry, and stressed, or we can be confident that we can produce good fruit, and experience the peace of God by letting it reign in our lives.

I pray that this week you will allow God to guide your path and direct your ways. I have added a link below to a song called “Let the Peace of God Reign,” by Darlene Zschech. Take a few minutes and rest in the powerful words of this song... you will be blessed.

Have an awesome week.
Rest in His Peace, Donna Weaver

“The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love;
the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace.” – Mother Teresa

28 January 2011

What's Your Legacy?

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Mark 10:44-47

Recently we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. During the day, we heard many people recite some of his famous speeches and one quote that stuck with me was “One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at the goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.” MLK was a Baptist minister and spokesman for non-violent activism in the civil rights movement. He was also one of the youngest people to receive the Noel peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and discrimination. He is a person that the world remembers.

Mother Teresa was a humanitarian nun who ministered to the “outcasts” in the slums of Calcutta. What I find amazing is that by the age of 12 she already felt that she had a calling for the very work she would pursue until her dying day. Mother Teresa made a difference in our world – from shelters for the dying to orphanages, and homes for the mentally ill, but her deepest passion was always service to the poorest of poor. Mother Teresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” She is a person that the world remembers.

Rich Mullins, American Contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter, left us with so many great praise and worship songs, such as “Awesome God.” He also has a song entitled “Peace” and one of the phrases that caught my attention was ... “Peace of Christ to you, and may peace rain down from Heaven, like little pieces of the sky....” The lyrics go on to talk about reaching out to a stranger... I love it! I’ve put a link on my Resource Page so you can listen to the entire song. His life was cut short, but his music continues to inspire us. He is a person that the world remembers.

Can you think of someone in your life that has inspired you, but is no longer walking on earth?  For me, one of those people was a young boy named Mattie Stepanik. Mattie first became known when Oprah discovered his poetry and learned about his battle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. His books, appropriately named “Heartsongs” contain poems with great insight for someone with such a young heart. Mattie became a peace advocate and even lobbied on Capitol Hill on behalf of peace, people with disabilities, and children with life-threatening conditions. In 2004, one month before his 14 birthday, Mattie lost the battle with his illness, but his words continue to offer hope and encouragement to others. He is a young boy that the world remembers.

Another person that has inspired my life was my grandmother. She was a woman with a gentle spirit and a strong faith. She did not talk about religion or her beliefs, but she shared her faith in simple ways... by loving others. She read her Bible, went out of her way to help others, and made a difference in the lives of her grandchildren. Psalm 78:4 says: “We will tell the next generation the praise worthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done.” She is a person the world remembers.

Jesus fulfilled his purpose here on earth. He made the poor, the hungry, the sick, the broken and hurting his “priority.” He also passed on His teachings to his disciples and commissioned them to go and serve others. Even today, His Word continues to teach us, and His same words commission us .... to love, to serve, to be a witness. Jesus was the “perfect” example of a humble servant, making a difference in the lives of those he came in contact with.  Now, HE is someone the world remembers!

Colossians 1:6 tells us, “This same good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours.” What work are you doing for God’s kingdom here on earth? What legacy will you leave behind?

It’s Friday, Let’s Sparkle... Action Required... In his book “Out Live Your Life," author Max Lucado says, “You’ve been given your life. No one else has your version. Your life will never be lived by anyone else.” So my question to you is... are you just out “living” your life, or is it your goal to “outlive” your life?

We all hope that our life reflects a Christ-like walk, that we are a witness to others. Max Lucado’s book really got me thinking about my legacy. What impact will my life have after I am gone? In his book, Lucado asks us to consider the answers to two important questions:

1. Who is it that you feel the most comfortable around? Is it the homeless, sick, elderly, college students, young children? Think about the words of Romans 12:6... “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”
2. What breaks your heart? Do you have an overflowing compassion for Haiti, the military serving our country, children with special needs? Think about he words of Psalm 33:13, 15... “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”

I hope I am making a difference in the lives of my grandchildren. Our relationship isn’t always an easy one because we live such a long distance from each other. So, when I can’t be around them, I pray unceasingly for each of their individual needs. (A wonderful resource I use is my Grandmother’s Bible which offers short devotions and prayers for specific needs of grandchildren).  Another way I feel that I am making a difference in the world is by sponsoring a child from Ethiopia through World Vision. What a blessing, to think that God could use me, just as I am to help others in a desperately hurting world. My heart breaks for those who are critically ill and in the end stages of their lives, so I serve as a Hospice volunteer. I offer these examples with a very humble heart. I am always amazed at what God can do if only I am willing to say, “Here I am Lord, Send Me.”

We are given choices, opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. Lucado puts it this way,“Here’s a salute to a long life: goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath. May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.”

As you “sparkle” in ways that are just perfectly suited to the person God has created you to be, I will be praying for not only your work here on earth, but also the legacy you will leave behind. I would love to hear some of the ways you are choosing to “Outlive Your Life.”

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

“While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day,
knowing that we are becoming history with every work,
every action, every deed.”   - Mattie Stepanek

24 January 2011

I Choose a Cloud of Dust, I mean PEACE

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be
useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

The words of 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace,” have haunted me all weekend. You know how it is when you start sorting out things? Clutter always seems to take over before the project is done. Well, last week I took an important step toward making my home a more peace-filled environment... I began to “unstuff.” But now I have myself I bit of an unorganized mess. So, I have to attempt to make some semblance of order to my things AND also address some other “stuff” (that is not material in nature). You see having too much stuff is not the only thing that steals my “peace.” I am the type of person that loves being busy, but sometimes (more often than I would like to admit), I get consumed by “busyness,” which leads to chaos. During those times, several things happen...

                         • My time with God suffers
                         • Family relationships are affected
                         • My job becomes more stressful
                         • I don’t keep in touch with my friends as I should
                         • My physical needs get set aside (sleep, food, exercise)
                         • Everything in my life becomes “messy”

Have you ever heard the expression “tyranny of the urgent?” The term refers to a mix-up of our priorities... letting urgent things take priority over the important things in our life. I think about Jesus’ life and how it portrayed the perfect balance. He spent time talking to people, took care of the needs of others, gave instruction to the disciples, yet took time to go to his Father in prayer. He sought God’s direction and was given great discernment for his tasks at hand. Charles E. Hummel says it this way in his book Tyranny of the Urgent, "Jesus’ prayerful waiting for the Father’s instructions freed him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave him a sense of direction, set a steady pace and at the end of his earthly ministry gave him the satisfaction that he had completed the work God had assigned him.”

When my life begins to spin out of control, I feel like Charlie Brown’s friend, Pigpen. I’m trying to accomplish tasks while being surrounded by a cloud of dust (or in my case, a cloud of dust, plus the   Big 3.... clutter, commitments and chaos). In order to determine what I need to do next on my “peace journey,” I need to ask myself a few important questions...

Is my home organized - everything where it belongs, in a storage place or in a handy spot?
Is my paperwork sorted and ready to deal with, or are my piles “out of control?”
Are my “projects” stored away in a convenient spot, so I can pull them out when I want to work on them or do they take over valuable space such as my kitchen table, desk, coffee table, etc?

What are my priorities... where am I spending my resources (time, money, talent)?
Do I have trouble saying “no?”
What activities really give me “joy”... where is my passion?
What is God calling me to do.... have I asked Him for guidance?

Do I have a system for keeping track of important dates, phone numbers, schedules?
Do I get where I need to go on time, or am I always running late?
Do I set schedule time to spend with family and friends or do they get left-over moments?
Do I save some time for “me” (bubble bath, good book, favorite DVD)?
Do I spend daily time with God.... reading my Bible, praying, listening?

Addressing the Big 3, will allow each of us to personalize the next steps we need to take. Maybe it’s finding some help organizing your house, making lists to keep track of your priorities, learning to say “no” to too many commitments, or maybe it’s just finding some quiet time to put everything in perspective. Whatever choices you make, go to God in prayer and ask Him to help you discern your priorities. I recently read a devotion entitled “On Lists and God’s Plan B.” The writer, Karen Ehman said, “When it comes to the answer to the question, ‘Should I make out a list and follow it carefully?’ the answer is yes and no. Use it as a guide, but know when to set it aside. We have our lists, but God sometimes has a better “Plan B” for our days. Watch for those divine interruptions. Then quiet your heart, and willingly embrace them.” Ehman's website also has several free resources for helping you get organized.  Check out my Resource Page for links or to read her entire devotion.

I plan to seek God’s guidance daily, and this week God willing, I think I will start by tackling my “piles,” making sure everything is put away in its proper place (laundry, dishes, paperwork, etc). I might not complete everything, but I shall remember... .... Peace, it’s all about the small steps on the journey!

Thanking God for each of you, as I keep you in my prayers.
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

“Every day we do things, we are things that have to do with peace.
If we are aware of our lifestyle, our way of consuming, our way of looking at
we will know how to make peace right in the moment we are alive.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

21 January 2011

SIMPLY, Sparkly!

“Out of the strain of Doing, into the peace of the Done.”
– Julia Louise Woodruff

Wo-hoo.... I made it through the week, and I can’t believe how much fun I’ve had. The weather even cooperated. It snowed, so it was a great excuse to come right home from work and keep working away. Once I set my mind on the idea of “unstuffng,” the task to simplify took on a different perspective... it became a personal challenge. I kept reminding myself of the end result – a more “peace-filled environment.” I became determined to make a difference in my home, by the time I reported back to you today. I hope Monday’s blog inspired some of you to begin to simplify too.... I’d love to hear your success stories!

IT’S FRIDAY, LET’S SPARKLE... Action Required... My son was the inspiration for this week’s “sparkle” suggestion. He owns a television that has to be 60-plus inches wide (He’s a guy who loves to watch sports, need I say more). Anyway, the TV is a monster of a thing and he has finally decided, after a recent move, that a smaller, flat screen TV would fit better in his new place. So, instead of trying to sell his monstrosity he told me that he is planning to donate it to a boys club or half-way house. His generous spirit gave me an idea. Since I had just begun to clean-out, why not compile a list of non-profit agencies or local businesses (including their addresses and phone numbers) that might be able to use some of my “stuff ?” Then as I continue to simplify my home, I can check out my list and quickly find a place to donate my gently-used treasures. You know the old saying, “One person’s “junk” is another person’s “treasure.”

Below is a general list of agencies/businesses, and donation suggestions, that I put together. You can use it as a starting point and check out similar places in your area.

Women’s Shelter, Half-way House, Emergency Family Shelters – toys, coloring books, puzzle books, clothes, shoes, furniture (small dressers, rocking chairs, comfy chairs, TV’s, radios, lamps), bedding, towels, bulletin boards, office supplies, kitchen items, baby furniture (high chairs, portable cribs), magazines, books (children & adult), VCR’s & videos, DVD’s.

Christian-based Shelters – Bibles, Christian books, CD’s, religious wall art

Nursing Homes – magazines, books, craft supplies, medical supplies (walkers, crutches), vases, afghan’s or small quilts, comfy chairs, rocking chairs

Community Transition Programs (job placement, re-training) – business clothes, shoes, purses, briefcases, self-improvement books, resume paper

YMCA – sports equipment, athletic shoes, referee shirts

Charitable Thrift Shops (Goodwill, Salvation Army, ARC, etc) – gently used, clean items for resale

Small Private-owned Day Care Centers – toys, children’s books, art supplies, sports equipment

Local College Students – furniture (bookcases, small tables, chairs, dressers, lamps, small household appliances such as microwaves, iron, coffee maker)

Many community organizations run on a “shoe-string budget” and donations definitely make a difference in their outreach. By giving to their businesses, we are helping those who are being the “hands and feet of Christ” in our own communities. Next time you drop off some donations, why not spend a little time visiting with the workers and thank them for the way their organization chooses to “sparkle.” Bring a plate of cookies, a jar of candy, or some flowers... brighten their day!

Well, my car is packed, and tomorrow morning I will be delivering my first load of treasures, AND celebrating this weeks’ accomplishment. Simplify.... simplify.... simplify.... it’s a good thing!

Have a blessed weekend and I’ll meet you back here on Monday morning.
God’s Peace,  Donna Weaver

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!”
- based on the words of Psalm 23

17 January 2011

God and stuff.... SIMPLIFY

“Peace, like charity, begins at home.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

This week my focus is on creating a "peaceful environment at home."  As I started writing my blog, it became a little overwhelming just thinking about all of the tasks that I would need to accomplish.  I wasn't even sure where to begin. So, I decided that this is another area of my life that once again, will need to be dealt with by taking tiny steps!

Today I am writing about my “first step”... which is to “simplify.” To accomplish this task I will need to keep my eyes focused on God. The Bible tells us that we can either worship God or worship our “stuff.” So, the first thing I did was write out a few signs and hang them up for inspiration...

                    • Cut out the stuff that keeps me from God
                    • God wants me to reduce my idols
                    • Shrink = less stuff, more God

I knew that I would have to stay focused on the task of simplifying and not get side-tracked by spending time organizing, re-organizing or re-doing. After I have completed the first step,  I will be able to move on to dealing with organizing the big 3... clutter, commitments and chaos (next Monday’s blog).

And so, with praise music blaring in the background, I started the process.  I began by asking myself some really tough questions. Do I really need three of the same size frying pans? Am I really going to shrink down in size enough to ever be able to fit into that dress again? And if I do, will I really want to be seen wearing it in public? How many craft projects can one person possibly finish in a lifetime? Why am I storing half a dozen clay pots, when I hate gardening? And one of the hardest questions....  Am I ever going to re-read that book again?

Item by item, I began to make a dent in the volume of "stuff" I had collected throughout my lifetime. It goes without saying that simplifying a lifetime of acquisitions is not going to be completed in one day, but the process has begun.

One of the areas I have a difficult time sorting through are things that have a sentimental or nostalgic memory attached to them. So many times, the item is not being given the prominence it deserves, but I just can’t part with it. I asked myself, "Could it be just the feeling I am attached to, and not the item itself?"  I recently heard an excellent tip and want to pass it on.... if your precious family heirloom is collecting dust, or a trophy from high school is kept in a box only to be given a periodic glance, why not take a picture of the item and write a brief story about the memory that goes along with it. You can then place your memories in a photo album, scrapbook or keepsake box and give the actual item away to be appreciated by someone else.

You might be asking why we need to give up material things in order to choose God. Scripture provides much guidance on this question. Here are some verses that might be helpful: Matthew 6:19-21, 24, Luke 12:15, Matthew 16:26, 1 Timothy 6:10, 1 John 3:17, Ephesians 4:28, Acts 4:32-35, Matthew 19:21.

In reality, simplifying our lives has nothing to do with God wanting us to have less, but more about realizing the difference between our wants and our needs. Most of us can truthfully say that our basic needs for survival are being met. Too often what we consider as a need is actually a want... the difference is that our wants have nothing to do with survival. The truth about the difference can be found in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” You see, unfortunately, many times our wants become our “master.”   We find ourselves seeking fulfillment, a promise of betterment, prestige, sense of self-worth, popularity or just more of something. Our search and drive become our downfall because it leads us in a never-ending, unfulfilling circle... it becomes a “will to acquire.” As long as we focus on what we don’t have, we will never be satisfied with what we have. If we don’t know how much is enough, we will never appreciate the bounty we have been blessed with, or that fact that we have a surplus that could be shared with others.

I’ve just started reading a book called Unstuff: Making Room in your Life for Things that Really Matter, by Haley and Michael DiMarco. Here is a brief review of the book as posted by Tyndale House Publishers, “The DiMarcos take an uncomfortably close look at the cost of their love affair with stuff. They start by Unstuffing their house; getting rid of anything they don’t need by giving away, selling, or throwing out items that only add to their love for more. Then, kicking it up a notch, this family of three travels across the country, with nothing more than they can fit in a motor home... and discovers that the really important stuff goes with them.” The couple combines their nomadic experience with scripture-based advice, journaling and reflective questions, meant to prompt readers to refocus their lives.

Suddenly “simplifying” doesn’t seem so overwhelming! If you have chosen to join me, to begin to “cut, reduce and shrink”.... be sure to check back on Friday when I will offer some great ways to help others as you go through the process of “simplifying” your life.

Hope your week is filled with an abundance of God’s Peace....
Donna Weaver

“If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having.”
– Henry Miller

14 January 2011

Pastor, Musician.... making a “SPARK”

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ"     - Ephesians 4:11-13

This week’s focus has been about finding peace in our heart. On Monday, I shared how Christian music touches my heart.  I think one of the reasons so many people feel the same way, is because music allows us to praise God in whatever way we choose.... maybe it’s through a beautiful traditional hymn, a contemporary praise tune, playing an instrument, rapping for Jesus, leading worship, writing music or just shouting to the Lord – even if it’s “off key.”  Today I am going to introduce you to someone who is using his musical talent to “sparkle” in some pretty amazing ways!

Years ago, Scott and I met when we served on a team for a Christian spiritual weekend at a juvenile detention center.  Scott was leading the music team, and I was there to add another voice to the mix.  I definitely did not possess a “beautiful voice,” but I was able to offer lots of enthusiasm and the obedience to serve God wherever I was needed.  Today I still sing (a little off-key), and Scott Johnson is Pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Conway, South Carolina, where he is using his music to touch the lives of not only his congregation but others, even as far away as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  

It is my belief that the words of Christian songs come from God’s presence overflowing in the hearts of those who love Him.  Songwriters and musicians find inspiration in many different ways.  It could be the result of pure joy, or reflections from a time when God carried someone through extremely difficult circumstances, or maybe their music is written to share a lesson or message inspired by God’s word.  In a recent interview for the SC United Methodist Advocate, Pastor Johnson spoke about the inspiration for his music.  In the article Johnson told the writer, “Some songs are a reaction to what’s going on in my life, some are my prayer journals and some I’ve written in the midst of writing a sermon because I couldn’t get in prose what I wanted to say. So I stopped, wrote the song, and then I was able to write the sermon.”  He has just released a CD of contemporary Christian songs, entitled “Love Still Wins.”  A portion of the sales (purchased directly from Johnson) go to helping his church raise money to aid in constructing wells and latrines in the Congo.  (A link to read the entire article and CD purchase info can be found on my Resource Page.) 

IT’S FRIDAY, LET’S SPARKLE... Action Required... One important point that Pastor Scott mentioned in the interview was that “God holds us responsible to use the gifts He’s given us.”  At “Peace, Love and Sparkle,” we have been talking about the many ways we serve Christ and witness to others, aka “sparkle.”  The words of 2 Corinthians 4:7 tell us, We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  God uses us just as we are... imperfect people... broken, cracked pots... a “work in progress.”  Using our gifts for kingdom work takes us beyond ourselves, and when we “sparkle,” others can see the possibility that God could use them too, just how they are.
 If God has blessed you with musical gifts, why not consider joining the church choir, praise team, or helping with the children’s music program.  If that is outside of your comfort zone... you could invite someone to go with you to a Christian concert.  Or you could always hum, whistle, clap your hands... or just turn on a Christian radio station.  Don’t be afraid to “Praise the Lord” in whatever way the Spirit moves you.  You never know how your actions may affect those around you.  Pastor Johnson wisely said it this way, “Go put your stuff to work and trust God with the outcomes.”

As we continue our journey, hopefully we will begin to experience more of God’s peace and see changes that could only come from our willingness to be obedient and step out in faith. 

... til Monday... God’s Peace – Donna Weaver

"Your talent is God's gift to you.
What you do with it is your gift back to God." - Leo Buscaglia

10 January 2011

Stepping Stones

"When you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart."  – St. Francis of Assisi
I have spent this week walking down a path that contains stepping stones inscribed with the following words of encouragement... calm, stillness, harmony, understanding, silence, knowledge and serenity.  These small, intentional steps have lead me on the first part of my journey which is to seek more peace in my heart.  There are several truths I've learned along the way...

  • Peace in my heart is directly affected by my relationship with God and others
  • God is calling each of us to a passionate, love relationship with Himself
  • Two-way conversation is a necessary part of communicating
Based on these truths, I have been making some simple changes....

Prayer Life:
  Many times my prayers become routine, or sound like an “I want” list.  Other times, I’m in a hurry, or too tired and feel like I am wasting God’s precious time. This week I read the words of Colossians 4:2,Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” and realized exactly what I needed to do... I have been striving for a more purposeful prayer life by setting aside uninterrupted time and being more focused and intentional as I pray to God. 

Being Still:  Listening to Christian music, especially a song like “Breathe” by Michael W. Smith, makes me feel like I am in the presence of God.  So, this week I began to wonder why I don’t take a few minutes longer to enjoy the quiet, to be still and spend time listening to God.  Why not indeed?  The reason is because of the “busy-ness” of everyday life. Well, I've been trying to conquer the “busy-ness,” even if it is for only 15 minutes a day.  Who knows, maybe it will gradually increase to 30 minutes, an hour, or even more!  There are many ways to follow the words of Psalm 46:10, Be still, and know that I am God!" What are some of the ways you find quiet time with God?

God’s Word:  For me, just reading through the Bible is not enough.  How can I battle against the things that try to steal my “peace,” if I can’t apply scripture to my everyday life?  How can I “sparkle” and share the gospel with others if I don’t have a deeper understanding of His Word?  The Bible tells us “... Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong” (Ephesians 3:17).  So, this past week I’ve added 2 new learning tools to my Bible study time.  1.  listening to a daily devotion based on the Sunday sermon  2. following a Christian blog - 21 days of Made to Crave.  Check my Resource Page for links.

God reveals so much to us.  His Word leads us down the right path if we just choose to pray, listen and learn.  May God put some extra peace in your heart this week... “Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” - Proverbs 16:3.  Be sure to check back on Friday, when we’ll be discovering ways to give away “pieces” of our heart!

God’s Peace... Donna Weaver

"Peace of mind is not a goal I need achieve.  It’s a place inside I never want to leave.  Close my eyes, I still my thoughts and then I say, I will choose to live in peace today."  – Robert Alan

07 January 2011

How Bright is Your Light?

"We are each gifted in a unique and important way.  It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.”  - Mary Dunbar

During a Christmas sermon just a few weeks ago, the pastor shared a story about a young boy who was asked what he liked most about Christmas.  The child answered “What I like most about Christmas is that people “sparkle.” I have to admit that I too have found that during the Christmas season, people tend to be a little more giving, a little more loving, and a little more joyful, even to strangers. 
What do we really mean when we use the word “sparkle?”  Well, in the context of this blog I’m using it as meaning “to share the light of Jesus that resides within us.”  Do you think maybe the little boy was on to something? 
How we individually reflect that "light" varies.  You and I might have similar interests/ passions, but our personal relationship with God, our gifts, resources, personalities, and willingness to serve, enable us to “shine” for Jesus in a variety of ways. 

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." - Romans 12:6-8

Below is a list of some names I came up with to describe different types of lights, each ones Christian characteristics and some possible ways  that each might “Shine for Jesus,” aka sparkle What type of light are you?
Candle:  reflects His love, radiates warmth and comfort (reaching out to the lost, lonely and hurting people in the world).
Flashlight:  A constant light, leading the way for others along the same path (mentoring, teaching, leadership).
Sparkler: A glittering quality, shining with animation, a source of inspiration & encouragement (offers hope, joy, comfort and praise through words & prayers).
Beacon:  A ray of light, directing others to the source of hope and salvation (missionaries, witnesses, Christian musicians & writers, Pastors).
Blaze:  On fire, consumed, sparks others (organizers, planners, motivators, visionaries, sharing their passion within their environment – church/community).
Each light has its own brightness, not because of the type of light, but because of its source.   A small candle can burn brighter than a flashlight with a dying battery.  A sparkler can illuminate in ways a beacon may not be able to. The fact is, the stronger the source, the brighter the light.  So, as we grow in our faith, we become more Christ-like.  Our power source (His light) becomes stronger, causing us to “sparkle” in even brighter ways.  Why not post a comment and share with us ways that you “sparkle!” 
IT’S FRIDAY, LET’S SPARKLE... Action Required...  Remember on Monday I suggested that you hold on to the Christmas cards that you received this year. Here is an idea for an easy way to “sparkle. 
Put the cards in a special place and use them as a reminder to pray for those friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc.  By placing them in a bowl on your table, it can become a great family activity at the dinner table, or tuck them in to your Bible or journal so they can become part of your daily prayer time.  You can even go one step further... pick a card and send a hand-written note to the person/family letting them know that you are praying for them. 

Let God use you right now, right where you are!  Reaching out to others and sharing God’s love in small ways, can become huge peace-filled moments in our daily lives. 

Have a blessed weekend and I’ll meet you here again on Monday.  God’s Peace... Donna Weaver
“Peace on the outside comes from knowing God on the inside.”  - author unknown

03 January 2011

Peace is not Enough

“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem.  Love and peace are eternal.”   – John Lennon
Happy New Year everyone!  Sometimes I think my friends wonder if I am really a left-over hippie from the 60’s.  The answer to that question is definitely NO.  I have never been part of a commune, used drugs, or rejected social or political values.  My only “hippy-ish” ways consist of having worn my hair long, occasionally dressing a little unconventional (tie-dyed shirts, beads & peace sign jewelry) and as much as I love using the word peace, it is usually done so in relationship to my faith.  With that being said, I do believe the world would be a better place if it was filled with God’s Peace and Love! 
I don’t know about you, but there are many areas of my life that are not exactly peace-filled. So in 2011, I am going on a journey to seek more of God’s peace & love in four specific areas of my life. The idea for this blog has been a work in progress for quite some time now, but the timing of the New Year seemed just right for challenging myself to the task at hand. 
While working on this project, the word sparkle started appearing to me in books and magazines that I was reading, in conversations, on TV and even in sermons I heard.  I didn’t understand why, until I heard a DJ on K-Love talking about an alternative to New Year resolutions.  He was sharing a story about a challenge called “My One Word.”   According to the website (myoneword.org) their challenge is simple, “Lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD.”  Since I already had my blog under construction, I knew peace was going to be my focus... I had a plan.  But, there was something that continued to bother me, and that was the word sparkle.  When I looked up sparkle in the thesaurus I found words like “shine, glitter, glisten, flicker, twinkle and shimmer.”  As I prayed about my plans to seek peace, I began to realize what was missing.  You see, peace in itself is not enough.  Matthew 5:16 (NIV) says, “... let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Shine.... “sparkle!”  As always, when I seek God’s guidance, His plan is always better than anything I could come up with, hence my blog Peace Love and Sparkle was born.
Here are the four areas of my life that will be the focus of this journey:
1.  Peace in my Heart (peace) = calm, quiet, stillness, tranquility, silence, harmony, serenity
2.  Peaceful Environment  (simplify) = uncomplicated, uncluttered, easier, to reduce
3.  Spirit of Peace (joy) = delight, happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, bliss, wonder
4.  Sharing the Peace (sparkle) =shine, glitter, glisten, flicker, twinkle, shimmer
During this week, think about the list above and see if you can come up with one or two steps you could take in your own life to seek peace in one or all of these areas.  We can compare our lists next Monday. 
BTW.... don’t throw away the Christmas cards you’ve received this year.  Friday I will share a great way to use them to start the New Year off with a “sparkle.”

God’s Peace...  Donna Weaver

“All we are saying; is give peace a chance.”    – John Lennon