28 April 2012

World Book Night Give-Away Winners



CoNgRaTuLaTiOnS
Peggy New & Stacey Olson

Be sure to check your mailbox soon... a copy of
PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger is on it’s way!

25 April 2012

Joining Hearts & Hands in Prayer


Thursday, May 3, 2012

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”
- Psalm 33:12

Did you know:  The National Day of Prayer was founded 61 years ago to remind us that our true solid foundation is from God and His Word. Every President since the early 1950’s has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation. And records indicate there have been 965 state and federal calls for national prayer since 1775 and counting.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, is quoted as saying, “It is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to its chastisement; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of past offenses, and a blessing upon their present and prospective action.”

Some people may argue the fact, but prayer is an important element of our country’s well-being. The power of prayer should never be under-estimated. James 5:16-18 tells us,

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

God listens to prayers, answers prayers, and moves in response to prayers. Here are just a few of the prayers we can pray for our country:

• Pray for President Obama and his Cabinet as they deal with domestic issues like the economy and immigration

• Pray about the manner in which government uses taxpayer dollars

• Pray for the judges and justices in our nations’ courts as they rule on constitutional issues

• Pray for those in Congress who are looking for means of both increasing revenue and reducing expenses

• Pray for our military – those in the U.S. and in foreign countries, and their families

Father, thank You for the United States and its government. I pray for the president, the national and local government, the judges, the policemen, the business leaders and all those who are in leadership positions in this country. Please protect them from the evil that is in the world and keep them safe and free from all harm.

You have promised to bless any nation that follows after You. Help us to live quiet and peaceful lives so that we can continue to spread the Good News of the Gospel throughout our land. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  (from Presidential Prayer Team)

Mark your calendars and make plans now.  Let’s join our hearts and hands together in prayer ... One Nation Under God.   Peace & Love, Donna Weaver












23 April 2012

Spreading the LOVE of Reading


Who is helping to give out half a million free books all across America on one day?  I am.

Tonight I will be one of the 25,000 volunteers, from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida, in 6,000 towns and cities across America participating in World Book Night U.S. – a celebration of reading and books.

World Book Night U.S. is an ambitious campaign to spread the joy and love of reading. Volunteer book lovers like myself, will help promote reading by going into our communities and handing out free books to new or light readers, reaching them especially in underserved places – and even some fun spots.  Thirty different novels have been chosen as World Book Night paperbacks. They are specially-printed, not-for-resale paperbacks. As a book giver, I have received 20 copies of Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger, to hand out.


Overview of the book:

With over a million copies sold, Leif Enger's award-winning, national bestseller Peace Like a River is a heroic quest, a tragedy, a love story, and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world. Enger brings us eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy in the Midwest who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Rueben finds himself on a cross country search for his outlaw brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey unfolds like a revelation, and its conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, and the most tragic of fates.


Special Give-Away: As part of World Book Night, I will be giving away a copy of Peace Like a River to two lucky readers of my blog. All I ask is after you are done reading the book that you pass it on so that someone else can also share the joy of reading.

To enter the Give-a-way - leave your name below and
tell me the name of your favorite author or favorite type of book.
All entries must be posted by midnight EST Thursday, April 26, 2012.

Winner will be announced on my blog Friday 4/27/12.

Please note: To enter this give-a-way you must be a U.S. resident,
sorry but I am personally paying for shipping the books!

World Book Night, through social media and traditional publicity, also promotes the value of reading, of printed books, and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year-round. I am very proud to be a part of the first World Book Night in the U.S., and look forward to telling you about my experience in the near future.

Peace, Love & Happy Reading, Donna Weaver

To read an overview of other books selected as part of 2012 World Book Night,

20 April 2012

GOD'S Green Earth




“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
– Psalm 19:1

What’s Happening: On Sunday, April 22nd more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012. Did you know the centerpiece of Earth Day in the United States will be a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tens of thousands of environmentally-conscious people from all walks of life and all parts of the country will be joined by civic leaders and celebrities for this special event to galvanize the environmental movement.

Check with your city or neighborhood organization to see what events they have planned for Earth Day. Take Action!

Why Should we Care: Psalm 24:1 tells us “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” That means since God created the world, we are only temporary stewards, and should be committed caretakers of its resources.


Sea turtle photo from www.blogs.westword.com
Facts about plastic – did you know?

• Plastic needs about 450 years just to start decomposing. Then, it takes another 50-80 years to decompose completely.

• Approximately 150,000 tons of plastic garbage goes into the ocean every year, causing the death of many sea animals which mistake the garbage for food. The plastic clogs their digestive systems and infuses their systems with chemicals.

• 24 million gallons of oil are needed for the production of a billion plastic bottles.

• The average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water in 1976. In 2006, that number jumped to 28.3 gallons.

• Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W bulb for up to 6 hours.

• Over 13 billion plastic bags are produced every year, which averages about 300 per adult.

• There are many countries which have banned or restricted the use of plastic bags. Australia, China, Austria, Bangladesh, Ireland and several European Union countries are among them.

Suggestions for making everyday Earth Day: 

• Use a reusable water bottle
• Turn off lights when you leave a room
• Use reusable lunch boxes for your children’s lunches
• Plant a tree or a garden
• Bring your own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store
• Convert your household light bulbs to LED
• Use rechargeable batteries
• Walk or bike more, drive less
• Use a water-saving shower head


Educational Resources:
 
Sullie Saves the Seas by Goffinet McLaren (South Carolina author).  This beautifully written book is a must read for children and adults concerned for planet Earth.  
 
Know Green, Go Green is a national campaign that promotes environmental education through providing resources for teachers to use to educate and mobilize their students.
 
Reading for the Earth is a national platform that libraries can use to promote environmental literacy and to inspire youth to read more books


It’s Friday, Let’s Sparkle … Action Required … Choose to make a difference, join the Billion Acts of Green. Today you can become part of the solution and help protect our planet by making a commitment to take action. Decide how you want to make a difference and pledge an act of green at  http://www.earthday.org/2012. The goal is to have one billion acts of green this Earth Day!

Get your families, friends, neighbors, churches, and schools involved … we all can make a pledge to be good stewards of this beautiful earth that God has entrusted to us.

I took the Pledge… I am helping reduce the danger of plastic water bottles by using a non-toxic, reusable water bottle. No one can do it all, but if we each do something – together we can make a difference!

Have a blessed weekend and don’t forget to …

Recycle – Reuse – Repurpose + Raise Awareness about Earth Day

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver



09 April 2012

Sharing God’s Light – Part 1


“Don't hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds
glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.”
- Matthew 5:15-16

One of the most popular artists in America, "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade, died Friday at the age of 54. The University of California Berkeley graduate had a strong faith in God, which served as the foundation for his artwork.

Kinkade was one of the most widely collected and beloved artists of our day. According to his website, “Each year millions of people are drawn to the luminous light and tranquil mood of Kinkade's paintings and include his creations in their lives through prints, books, and other fine collectibles."

Years ago I collected lighthouses and had several Kinkade prints of his “beacon’s of light. “ He had such an eye for taking objects and using his paintbrush to make them “come alive with light."  As I was thinking about Kinkade’s work, I also thought about how God makes us come alive with His light.  We are not to shine our light to draw attention to ourselves, but commanded to become the light to others in this world, so that they may know the true Source of our light.

So, how do you shine?

There are many ways we can shine for Jesus. Maybe you are like Kinkade and shine with a paintbrush, or maybe you shine with your voice. I like to think that God’s light shines just a little through the words I write.  Whatever gifts, talents and passions God has given to you, use them to His glory and “shine” for all to see.

Thomas Kinkade painted some amazing images of faith include pieces entitled: The Good Shepherds Cottage, The Cross, Sunrise, Walk of Faith, Stairway to Paradise, Bridge of Faith.  He also has “The Garden of Prayer Collection” which includes the following paintings: The Garden of Prayer, Pools of Serenity, The Hour of Prayer, and Gazebo of Prayer.

I’d like to close my blog today with words written by Kinkade himself, describing his painting The Gazebo of Prayer ...
  
"In my heart, gazebos are truly peaceful places. They seem to exist apart from the world and beacon all of us inside the confines of the small world they capture. Children use them in their fanciful play delighting their young imaginations. Lovers use them as a retreat to share a romatic moment or perhaps a wedding vow.  Wanders usethem as a palce of refuge, gently sheltering from the day's brillant sun.  To my artistic eye, this gazebo is a perfect place for those seeking a time of reverent renewal and a moment of solitude to be with their God. The trees soften the light to create harmonies of shadow and color enhancing the viewer's experience. One can smell the fragrant floral aromas gently drifting in this small sanctum of solitude. The birds happily sing in the trees as if they were a church choir praising the creator and thanking Him for the grace given to this heavenly garden. The spirit of our Lord fills every moment if we take the time to simply look, listen and allow His presence to fill our hearts and provide guidance. Join me in the Gazebo of Prayer where we can connect with providence often lost in hectic, everyday life. God Bless."

Excerpt taken from the official Thomas Kinkade website.
Check out his work at the link below:


I'll be back on Friday with Part 2 of Sharing God’s Light. Have a blessed and “sparkly” week.   God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

06 April 2012

Journey to the Cross - DARKNESS FALLS

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
- Romans 10:15

We’ve journeyed through the garden.


And now we approach the path to the cross.

The cross on a hill.

He carried our burdens and took our place on the cross

The blood stained cross.

Darkness falls over the Earth.

Leave your burdens and sins at the foot of the cross.

But do not stay in the darkness.

Because ...     Christ is Risen! 


"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

               - John 3:16  (The Message)



It’s Friday, Let’s "Sparkle" ... action required ...
God required a price to be paid for our sin, so Christ took the journey to Calvary - and through His death, we've all been given the right to be called the sons and daughters of God.  All He asks in return is for us to believe in Him!

If you have never asked Jesus to forgive your sins and be your Savior, my prayer is that you will do so today. 

If you are already a Christian, my prayer is that you will let the light of Christ shine in your life for all to see. Spread the Good News.

Lent began with a symbol of ashes, and ends with the light of Jesus shining in each one of us.

Easter blessings everyone.
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver





03 April 2012

Leaving the Garden – Remembering the SUFFERING

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power
is made perfect in weakness"  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

This Lenten season has been quite a journey!  We’ve spent a great deal of time in the Garden... examining our hearts, confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, smelling the sweet fragrance of our Savior, drawing closer to Him, talking about humility and being passionate... and here we are. Today we leave the garden and as followers on the journey to the cross, we start down a very dark path.

Can you imagine what it was like for the disciples, as they shared Christ’s last days

What a terrifying time!

Does your life ever seem like a dark path? Maybe you are facing the unknown? Are you going through your own pain and suffering?  Despair?  Fear?  Doubt?

Well, I have good news to share with you. No matter what we are going through, no matter how desperate we feel, no one understands our “darkness” better than Jesus. As followers of Christ, we are never alone because of His promises and His presence ... because of His journey to the Cross.

I hope you will find encouragement and hope in the following Easter message from DaySpring. ... 



Jesus,
the Light of the World,
came so we could find our way to God.


Jesus,
the Lamb of God,
died upon the cross
so we could receive the Salvation of God.


Jesus,
the Bright and Morning Star,
rose from the dead
so we could live forever with God.



For a free printable copy of DaySpring’s Easter message click this link:
http://www.dayspring.com/jesus_light_of_the_worldfree_easter_printable/#tabDetails

Preparing Our Hearts .... As we approach the cross, and the moment of darkness that comes on Good Friday, let us not forget the tremendous suffering and agony Jesus endured. Praise Him and thank God for our great gift of salvation.

Below is a link to one of my favorite songs of encouragement... it is called “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” I remember singing this in our choir at my high school graduation. It still warms my heart and I hope it will do the same for you.

This version is sung by Barbara Streisand...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RYUp7gYHwg&feature=related

Blessings & God's Peace, Donna Weaver

30 March 2012

The JOY of JESUS


“A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”
- Proverbs 15:13 (NASB)

This week one of my friends sent me an email that included a short devotion entitled, “Sparkling!” Since that just happens to be part of our message at PEACE, LOVE and SPARKLE every Friday, I wanted to share with you the opening paragraph.

“As I was waiting to checkout I glanced at one of the magazines on the rack, I noticed it had a female celebrity wearing a gem studded gown worth four times as much as my friendly cashier could make in a year. When I looked at it, however, I couldn’t help but think that nothing on that dress sparkled as brightly or shined as beautifully as the cashier’s joyful smile.” (excerpt taken from “Sparkling!” by Joseph J. Mazzella)

What a wonderful compliment ... but it actually means so much more.

Do you remember this childhood song?

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.

f you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

A SMILE is an outward expression of an inward emotion. And that inward emotion is JOY. Our JOY comes from knowing the LORD. And our love of the LORD fills our heart with JOY (inward emotion) and is expressed with a SMILE (outward expression).

Okay, are you dizzy yet? Whether you noticed it or not, we just went in a complete circle.

As Christians we have so much to be thankful for. I once heard someone say that “heart smiles” erupt on our faces and give us a special radiance that comes from the joy in our heart.

Does your face reflect the spiritual condition of your heart?

Here are some reminders from scripture:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.”
- Proverbs 31:25

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
- Habakkuk 3:18

“Laughter does the heart good like a medicine
but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
- Proverbs 17:22


It’s Friday, so if you are happy, let your face show it
– aka Sparkle.


Our smile can be a wonderful testimony to our faith. Let your confidence in Christ – your joy, happiness and peace, shine through.

Remember, you may be the only Christ someone will ever see.

Praying that your weekend will be filled with JOY and lots of SMILES!
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver







29 March 2012

Falling Asleep in the Garden - Being Passionate


“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them”
- Proverbs 3:27

I don’t know what the weather has been like where you live, but here in Colorado it’s been gorgeous lately. I’ve opened windows and breathed in the fresh air. Flowers are popping their heads out from the ground, especially the daffodils. I’ve even seen a blue jay perched on a fence post. Sure signs of Spring!

Have you ever wondered what it was like in the Garden of Gethsemane over 2000 years ago?

Unfortunately, this is the last post from within the Garden. We will be leaving shortly and continuing on our Journey to the Cross.

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, which marks the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. It is the beginning of the week of His passion – and we will walk that path right here, next Wednesday. But first, let’s explore the word “passion.”   Here are just two of the definitions as stated in the Merriam- Webster Dictionary:

1.  the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death
2.  ardent affection, a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept

God has given us a passionate spirit and fills our heart with the longing to make a difference.

Ask yourself, “How do I respond to God’s calling?” Am I passionate or passive?

Many times we relate to the pain of others, experience their suffering, see the needs of the lonely or lost - but we wait thinking someone else will step up, we rationalize, procrastinate, avoid the promptings of His gentle “nudges.” But, if we are passionate, we must actively choose to follow Christ.

In Luke 9:23 Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Christ came as a servant and His dying was an act of obedience.  Will you be obedient?


PREPARING OUR HEARTS:
This week as we prepare for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, let’s give thanks to the Lord for His passion and obedience, even to death on the cross. Ask God to show you what breaks His heart, and how you can use your “passion” to make a difference.

May Palm Sunday be a day of shouting sweet Hosanna’s ... “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD” - Psalm 118:26.

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

25 March 2012

Thoughts about GRACE


“By the grace of God, I am what I am.”
- I Corinthians 15:10

I love to wear jewelry, and some of my favorite pieces are my cross necklaces. I collect all sorts of crosses. I have the ones I wear, and others I hang on my walls at home. My crosses are a symbol of my faith. Occasionally someone will see me wearing a cross and ask me where I go to church or questions about my faith. My crosses have become conversation pieces and a tool for witnessing.

Today I was thinking about the word “grace.” What a beautiful word, and as we begin to understand the true meaning, we also understand just how “amazing” grace really is.

Here are some of my thoughts about grace:

• Grace is God’s unmerited favor.
• Grace cannot be earned.
• Grace is kindness from God we don’t deserve.
• Grace is a gift from God.

If you were asked to explain the meaning of GRACE, how would you respond?

Someone once shared the following acronym with me, and it has become a simple way to remember the meaning of “grace: ...
GOD’S   RICHES   AT   CHRIST'S   EXPENSE

I certainly don’t understand everything about the grace of God – but one definite way to learn more is to search scripture. His Word speaks the truth and gives us great insight.



“For sin shall not be master over you,
for you are not under law, but under grace.”
- Romans 6:14

 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.” - Ephesians 2:9

 
“Those who receive the abundance of grace
and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life
through the One, Jesus Christ.” - Romans 5:17


Prayer for God's Grace


May the grace of Christ our Saviour,

And the Father's boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit's favor,
Rest upon us from above.


Thus may we abide in union
With each other and the Lord,
And possess, in sweet communion,
Joys which earth cannot afford. Amen.


This week I encourage you to think about all of the things we do not deserve but for which we have received grace. Thank the Lord that He lavishes His GRACE on us for no other reason than because He first loved us.


See you back here on Wednesday as we continue our Journey to the Cross.

In the Grip of Grace...
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver



23 March 2012

Seeking “God-Moments”


"Blessed are those to whom Easter is not a hunt... but a find;
not a greeting... but a proclamation;
not an outward fashion... but inward grace;
not a day... but an eternity."
- Author Unknown

The next two weekends will be filled with a burst of spring activities; shopping for the perfect Easter outfit, haircuts for the kids, preparation for the Easter brunch, community Easter egg hunts, freshening up the house for out of town guests, practice for the Easter program at church, and of course, Spring Break activities.

Beware:  Busyness once again lurks in the shadows - ready to attack and steal our peace.

Remember:  Daily time spent with God can fill us with peace, patience, perseverance and help us through each day. His presence will give us perspective!

Sometimes I feel like my mind is like a broken record, replaying the same words over and over again ...
“avoid BUSYNESS, seek PEACE, seek HIM”
“avoid BUSYNESS, seek PEACE, seek HIM”
“avoid BUSYNESS, seek PEACE, seek HIM”

The fact is, these reminders keep pounding in my head because I still have not learned to listen to God’s promptings. Always good intentions ... but in my human-ness, I always fall short ...

I wake up and rush to get ready for work, missing the beautiful morning sunrise. I’m on the go, running my errands, can’t be late – missing the fresh scent of flowers along the path. I have my head buried in paperwork, eyes focused on the computer, TV making noise in the background, but I do not take time to sit on the patio and enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

God provides beautiful works of art, if we choose to open our eyes. God provides magical moments, if we choose to open our hearts. God provides inspiring, encouraging and loving words in scripture, if we choose to open our minds. As I was writing this, I got to thinking about the Bible verse about the “lilies of the field.” Check out this version of the passage which is taken from The Message Bible.

Matthew 6:27 - 33 (MSG)

27-29 "Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 "If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Sounds so reassuring ... like a wonderful, relaxing, peace-filled plan. God’s beautiful plan.

How about we give it a try? Would love to hear how you plan to enjoy some God-moments this weekend. Post your comments below.

 
 
It’s Friday, Let’s Sparkle ... action required ... In the midst of all the spring celebrations, there are people we may need to pray for, offer an invitation to, or take action to help out. Ask God to open your eyes to their needs. Ask Him to open your heart to reach out and love them. And ask the Holy Spirit to fill your mind with the words to tell them the reason you have hope, love, joy and peace.


“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” - Romans 5:8


Grace & Peace, Donna Weaver


21 March 2012

Falling Asleep in the Garden - HUMILITY


“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
- Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

Last Wednesday we talked about drawing closer to God. I hope you’ve been able to spend a little extra time in His Presence this week.

Our Journey to the Cross will soon take us away from the Garden, but before we leave, there are two words I think we should explore – humility and passion. I chose these two specific characteristics, because in both cases, our godliness can often be measured by the line between the characteristic and it’s opposite or extreme. Let’s take a look at the definition of the word HUMILITY, meaning the quality of being modest or respectful . The opposite is ARROGANCE, contemptuous, feeling or showing self-importance or disregard for others. So, what is the “fine line” between these two extremes?

We start out with CONFIDENCE, a self-assurance or belief in our own abilities. But, then PRIDE comes along.

Pride can be a proper sense of own value, the correct level of respect for the importance and value of your personal character, life, efforts, or achievements.

Pride can be satisfaction with self, the happy satisfied feeling somebody experiences when having or achieving something special that other people admire.

Or, Pride can become a feeling of superiority, a haughty attitude shown by somebody who believes, often unjustifiably, that he or she is better than others

Pride opens the door and offers a temptation to change our God-given talents, gifts and passions into something sinful. However, humility allows God to help us keep our thoughts, motives and desires focused on being Christ-like.

Philippians 2:8 tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

I think Lent is the perfect time to remember ... when we fall short in our own efforts, when our human, sinful ways get the best of us ... Jesus’ death is our only hope.

PREPARING OUR HEARTS: This week, ponder the thought that every trait, ability, quality, talent and desire we have, are gifts from God, and could be taken from us at any moment. With the help of the Holy Spirit, make a conscious effort to ask God to reveal the intentions of your heart and grant you the ability to see yourself as He sees you.

Be sure to check back next Wednesday as we explore our answer to the question, “Are we passionate or passive?”

Counting down to Calvary ...
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver



19 March 2012

Meditating on His Word


My thoughts are jumbled and the words are not flowing, so I turn to the only thing that will comfort and encourage me ... God’s Word ... and my favorite Psalm.   Have a blessed week!

Seeking His Peace,  Donna Weaver

Psalm 139

GOD, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

 - The Message


16 March 2012

Inside the Cover – WEIRD: Because Normal Isn’t Working


“Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God
transform you into a new person by changing the way you
think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which
is good and pleasing and perfect”  - Romans 12:2


Can I tell you a secret .... { I want to be WEIRD! }

When I was young, kids would do almost anything to conform and not be considered different (or weird).  But, I’ve grown up – and, in today’s world “normal” people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Our normalcy affects our friendships, our family life and most importantly, our relationship with God.

Normal is rarely content. Normal has become living paycheck to paycheck. Normal lacks time for what is really important in life.

Let’s face it, NORMAL isn’t working.

I just finished reading a book that gives the reader permission to break free from the “norm.” It is packed full of alternatives that will help us choose to live a radically abnormal (and much more fulfilling) life.

The author of WEIRD: Because Normal isn’t Working is a pastor, husband and father of six children, and he is WEIRD (in a good way). Craig Groeschel begins his story by recalling a time in his youth when he asked himself questions like: “What if Jesus is real? What if his teachings are true? How would my life change if I truly tried to live like Jesus? What if I really gave my life to God?”

Knowing that he did not have all of the answers, he knew enough to foresee that pursuing these questions would “force him to step outside the safe circle of being normal.” Using personal stories, scripture, and a touch of humor, we are challenged to join him and step out of our comfort zone.


He offers his WEIRD views on topics such as time management, financial decisions, marriage, parenting, sexual purity, intimacy, relationship with God, and morals. One statement that he made really hit home. He said, “We choose popular standards instead of the habits that lead to holiness.”

In the book we are asked the question, “What if the Bible is talking about a different-than-what-everyone-else-does, good type of Jesus weird?"  Today I challenge you to read this exciting book and join me in being WEIRD.

It’s Friday, Let’s “Sparkle” ... action required ... Books like the one we discussed today can be a great addition to our spiritual learning. Why not gather a group of friends together and read a book together?  Many Christian books include discussion questions or offer companion study guides that help facilitate conversations about the book and our faith.  Great reading, interesting discussions and blessed fellowship - PRICELESS!

Have a WEIRD weekend!

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver


Resource:    WEIRD: Because Normal isn’t Working
by Craig Groeschel
http://www.christianbook.com/weird-because-normal-isnt-working/craig-groeschel/9780310327905/pd/327905


14 March 2012

Falling Asleep in the Garden – DRAWING CLOSER


 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you” – Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

What has this Lenten season meant to you? How have you drawn closer to God?

On this blog we are always talking about how our lives – the busyness, commitments, and other demands on our time STEAL OUR PEACE. Well guess what? Those same trappings, if we let them, can keep us from drawing closer to God. The Journey to the Cross doesn’t take a day off, or time out because of other commitments or busy schedules.

What competes with your time with God?

Sometimes I feel like the disciples when they fell asleep in the Garden. I grow tired and weary, and end up choosing sleep or mundane activities (such as Facebook, Pinterest, or TV) to fill my time. And yes, you guessed it - my “God-time” suffers.

The words of James 4:8 tells us, “Come near to God, and He will come near to you.” God expects us to take the first step, and if we do, He will meet us right where we are. It takes a conscious effort on our part to draw near to Him.

Let’s read the passage one more time: “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet” (James 4:7-10, The Message).

Why would we choose to battle the chaos, hurt, weariness, sin, disappointment, loneliness that comes from our constantly trying to do things our way, filling ourselves with things of this world - when we can find peace, comfort, strength, and joy {and much more} in the presence of God?

Christ humbled himself when he came to walk with us, and to die on the cross for our sins. 

Are our actions and choices telling HIM that it was all for nothing?

PREPARING OUR HEARTS: Let’s make today a new day, a re-commitment to this Lenten season. Let’s abandon our attempts to do it our way, to “save” ourselves. Remember the words from James? We have been commanded to take the first step.

This week I came across a prayer from Joel and Victoria Osteen, and it is the perfect prayer for this moment. As we respond to His command, won’t you pray with me …

Father in heaven, I choose to draw near to You. I open my heart and turn from anything that displeases You. Fill me with Your power to live the good life You have planned for me as I draw close to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

I have posted two music links for the songs “In the Garden” and “Draw Me Close to You” ... enjoy! There is also a resource listed below that offers 365 meditations for a year long journey of drawing closer to God.

Blessings & Peace,
In Christ Alone – Donna Weaver


In the Garden, sung by Alan Jackson
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=i+stand+in+the+garden+youtube&view=detail&mid=1B4678B636275F952B1F1B4678B636275F952B1F&first=0&FORM=LKVR1


Draw Me Close to You, sung by Michael W. Smith
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_tdG9yM93A&feature=related


Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations, 
by Dianne Neal Matthews

http://www.christianbook.com/drawing-closer-meditations-questions-scripture-ebook/dianne-matthews/9781441213266/pd/10090EB?product_redirect=1&Ntt=10090EB&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP



12 March 2012

Digging Deeper for the TRUTH


un•der•stand – to realize or become aware of something

What is the cost?  What does the commitment entail?  How far away is it?  How much time will it take?  UNDERSTANDING the full picture is important in any aspect of life.

This semester I am taking a course called Interpreting the Bible.  I am learning to analyze, interpret, and apply what I am reading. I am also discovering that many times we read God’s Word with a “preunderstanding” (conscious and subconscious preconceived notions). These notions may be based on things we learned as a child, from our life’s experiences, or from our culture.

Understanding a passage in the original context - including who wrote it, to whom it was written, and what historical things were going on at the time, is so important. To understand how to apply God’s Word to our lives today, we need to grasp the meaning of the text as God originally intended.

“Each passage of scripture was God’s Word to other people before it became God’s Word to us. We are separated from the biblical audience by culture and customs, language, situation, and a vast expanse of time” (Grasping God’s Word, 2005). With that said, the time bound message of Scripture contains eternally relevant principles that we can discover and apply to our lives in today’s world. That is why it is important for us to dig deep and meditate on God’s Word and never rely totally on the understanding or interpretation of someone else.

The concept of digging in and finding the truth for ourselves is a great practice in other areas of our life too.  This week several things happened that were separate but also connected in many ways. First, I am on an email/prayer list for a missionary in the Sudan. Her name is Michelle Perry and her base is an orphanage in a very dangerous area. She shares her stories and how God is working in the lives of the Sudanese people on her blog. This week she shared a very insightful story. Before I share her link I want to tell you the other half of the story. While spending time on the internet last week I kept seeing a post for KONY 2012. I didn’t have time to check it out, but this weekend my daughter called to let me know that she had sent me an email that would touch my heart. It was the KONY 2012 video.



As I watched the video, I thought about Michelle’s work in a different light. My daughter was right, my heart broke for the children that have been abused and tortured by this awful person. One particular scripture came to mind:

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one
of the least of these, you did not do for me” – Matthew 25:45

I plan to continue to pray for Michelle and the work she is doing in the Sudan. Beyond that, I cannot say where my heart will lead me.

The key to taking any type of “action” can only be found in truly UNDERSTANDING. Many of you have probably viewed the KONY 2012 video. If you have not, I have provided a link below. You will also find links to the two posts that Michelle Perry’s wrote this week - she is a beautiful writer and photographer, and captures the words and faces of life in the Sudan, beyond anything you can imagine. She sheds a new light on the same topic and your heart will be touched.

Have a blessed week. As you continue to study God’s Word, I pray that you will seek a deeper understanding of each passage you read.

I’ll be back on Wednesday as we continue our Journey to the Cross.
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

Original KONY 2012 video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

Michelle Perry, Missionary in the Sudan - blog posted 3/8/12:
http://fromtheunpavedroad.com/2012/03/08/what-does-it-mean-to-love-our-enemies-really/

Michelle’s follow up blog posted 3/9/12:
http://fromtheunpavedroad.com/2012/03/09/live-free//

09 March 2012

With a Thankful Heart


“God has two dwellings: one in heaven,
and the other in the meek and thankful heart.”
-- Isaac Walton

So often we’re asking, asking, and asking for the things we want from God. It’s time once again to talk about an attitude of gratitude.

For almost a year now, my friend Peggy and I have been keeping what we call our “Blessings Journals.” We started out with two identical journals, our favorite pens, and a goal of recording 1,000 blessings in each book. The fun part is that we swap journals every 2-3 weeks and continue recording our blessings in the other persons’ journal.

Last week it was time once again for our “swap,” and guess what? We have recorded almost 500 blessings in each book. Half-way there, but we’ve also decided that the number doesn’t matter anymore. Holding each other accountable and sharing our gratitude, has blessed us both more than we can put in to words. There are some days when the only blessing might be, “the day is finally over.” Other days, God’s abundant blessings never seem to end. It may be a "thank you" for patience, an unexpected check in the mail, a phone call from a friend, bird's chirping in the early morning, a handmade card from a grandchild, a beautiful sunrise, or a slice of cheesecake.  The size or number of our blessings doesn’t matter ... it is the attitude, our changed hearts and the joy found in reading the other persons blessings. It is worshipping God with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart.

I think we’ve both decided that we need to continue our shared journals forever.    { s m i l i n g }

With a grateful prayer ...

Each one of us have been given more than we’ll ever know.

and a thankful heart ...

Whatever we think about throughout the day affects our attitude.

We worship you, Lord.

Joy, peace, healing, prosperity, salvation - just a few of our many blessings.

I just love this quote, it says it all ... “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -Melody Beady

 
It’s Friday, Let’s “Sparkle” ... action required ... Below are some tips for beginning your own Blessings Journal. Why not consider sharing your gratitude with a friend – twice the blessings and twice the fun! I have also included some scripture verses you could pass along to someone that might need to realize all of the blessings in their life.
 
Go Shopping, be Creative - You can use a beautiful hardbound journal, a plain blank inexpensive notebook, or a simple collection of blank notecards tied together with a beautiful ribbon.

Pick your Style of Journaling – Make a list, write a prayer, jot a thank note to Jesus – simple words or eloquent writing, it’s your choice.

Make a Commitment – Having an attitude of gratitude, a thankful heart, is a discipline. It’s best to try to make a plan – once a day, three times a week, every Sunday, whatever works with your schedule. Be consistent.

Don’t give up! – If you find that you are skipping a day, forgetting to write, or saying to yourself “I’ll start again tomorrow,” pray and ask God for willpower and self-discipline. Another great idea is to ask someone to hold you accountable.

“Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make
known his deeds among the people” - 1 Chronicles 16:8

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise: be thankful
unto him, and bless his name” - Psalms 100:4

Below is a link to a Youtube video of a song entitled “With a Thankful Heart,” by Don Moen. Please enjoy and have a blessed weekend.

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver
Don Moen – “With a Thankful Heart”