by Amy Kemp
Colossians 3:15 says, "Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed's peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful." (The Voice). The Message version phrases it this way, "Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness."
The combination of these two versions of the same verse profoundly spoke to me recently. Allow me to expound.
I found it a strange phrase, "Let your hearts fall." Most often "heart" and "fall" are combined in my head when a heart falls in love. When you have "fallen" for someone, your emotion takes over. It is as if you have no power to stop what feels right to your heart. You simply fall. The scripture here, though, implies that there is a conscious effort to "LET" the heart fall. You give the heart permission to be exposed and to be vulnerable for the reward on the other side. You let go, intentionally - with ALL of the forethought.
If it is an intentional, planned relinquishing of control, to whom or what are you releasing your heart? The answer: the peace of Christ. Well, that is quite the reward! Back in the 80s, when I was in high school and girls talked about boys, we might say, "She's falling for him." What if we brought that dated language from the 80s back and thought through this verse within that context. Do you see yourself "falling for peace?" Would you let your heart fall for the peace of Christ? Would you relinquish control for the return on the other side?
Let's go further. Where does that peace lead? Check out the parenthetical phrase from The Voice version of this text. It leads to unity - one body. If we let go and let God, the result is not just peace but unity - the quality that holds us together and keeps us in tune (see The Message version) with each other. A band, an orchestra, an ensemble, and a choir, even if they are on the same page of music, under the direction of the same conductor, and playing at the same tempo will fail at the task of making beautiful music if they are out of tune.
In just one sentence, there is so much discovery: Let go! Fall for peace! Embrace unity!
And, then, the kicker. . ."and cultivate thankfulness." I never considered myself much of a farm girl, because growing up, my dad owned only 80 acres. We had a four-bottom disc and a four-row planter. That's about one step up from a mule. But, I remember one implement piece in the shed known as the cultivator. The job of that piece of equipment was to bring to the surface the moisture that was beneath the hard, scorched, dry soil at the base of the plants. Cultivating a field meant breaking through the top-layer exterior to the moist, rich soil beneath. And, that was all in an effort to bring refreshment and needed moisture to the plants.
Walk through the phrase with me now, "Cultivate thankfulness." Work it up. Break through your scorched exterior and reach down deep for the moist dirt. Beneath the surface there is reason to be thankful, but if you don't work at it, it will never bring refreshment to your life, to your soul, to your being. It's there, though, and you've been commanded to reach for it and expose it.
Seriously, you have to look at scripture some days and ask yourself, "How have I missed this before?" Then, go to your neighbor and ask, "Did you know this was here?" Share this awesome word!
By Niki Packer
Have you ever asked someone you loved what they were thinking? Or have you ever asked someone if there's something they want to say to you? Those can be dangerous questions, but they can also open wide the door of communication and take us deeper in our relationships and understanding of each other.
After I asked the Lord today what He wanted to say to the readers of the Called and Confident blog, I felt a challenge rising up from the Lord. What if, for the next 30 days, I asked the Lord each morning "What do you want to say to me today?" I often ask the Lord a specific question, and I will be silent and try to listen for His direction. But my challenge for the next few weeks, and one that I hope you will take with me, is to ask the Lord every morning before my day starts, "What do you want to say to me today?" And then be silent. Maybe some days He'll tell me how much He loves me. Maybe some days He'll have a mission for me. Maybe some days He'll share a secret with me. But with no agenda or preconceived ideas, I'm going to ask the Lord what He wants to say.
I'm reminded of young Samuel who was awakened in the night by the Lord calling his name. Finally after the third time, his sage mentor Eli advised him to say "Speak, for your servant is listening". In this instance the Lord had a warning for His people. But the Bible is full of stories of the many diverse messages God had for His people; all of them different and all of them important for such a time and place as that.
I invite you to join me for at least the next 30 days and begin every day by popping the dangerous but promising question, "What do you want to say to me today, Lord?"
We'd love to hear some of the messages He gives you. Comment below to join the discussion!
By Becky Payne
All I have ever wanted was to be a wife and mother, yet it has seemed that God was ignoring my desires! I have six nieces and nephews, and have been a dog mom to multiple dogs, but it is not the same! As fifty is rapidly approaching , I have finally accepted that I will never be a mom in the way I desire.
Though I have never birthed any children, God continues to show me...I am a mother. In my life, I have had many spiritual “children” who I have had the privilege of nurturing at various points in their life As a children/youth minister there were kids who came to me when they couldn’t talk with their parents...as a college professor and Sunday School teacher, I have had the privilege to teach many people...as a director of residents at a homeless shelter I was a mother figure guiding them through the effects of horrendous childhoods, loving them, and modeling for them how healthy relationships should look. In each of these roles, I have been called to mother.
My first Mother’s Day came several years ago when the minister told the congregation to look at your mom and tell her that you love her. Sitting next to me was a teenage boy who had been abandoned by his mom and had latched on to me. Leaning over, he put his head on my shoulder saying, “You’re my mom.” My heart broke that day...it broke wide open showing me the importance of my role as a surrogate mother.
In the Captivating Workbook the authors say: "Mothering someone is seeing them as they really are and calling them out to be that person. All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to all kinds of things - to a book, to a church, or to a movement. Women give birth to ideas, to creative expressions to deeper walks with God, to deeper intimacy with Jesus. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically born a child. The heart and life of a woman is much more vast than that."
My heart is overflowing because of “my kids”. They have brought such joy into my life and I nearly missed it because of my desperation to have a family the way I wanted it. Many of you are desperately longing to be mothers for various reasons. My challenge for you is to see your calling to mother right where you are now. Who in your life needs love and nurture? Who could use a shoulder to cry on or a hug? God has placed people in your life that need you to lovingly guide them. I know it may not look like what you want, but I guarantee that you will be blessed beyond belief.
Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.”
Psalm 113:9 “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.”
By Clella Camp
I have been going back over a conversation that I was a part of recently. And yes, I was a part of it, not an innocent bystander but a part of the group. And in retrospect, I have decided to be more careful about my participation in such conversations. Was it harmful? I don't think so but was it necessary? Probably not.
How do you feel about gossip? Harmless? Destructive? Not a problem? The subject is on my heart this morning. Society gives gossip many labels- chitchat, rumor, conversation, prayer- wait Prayer? Really? How could prayer be destructive?
As His people, we need to examine our hearts as we make verbal prayer requests to any one on one contact. God knows the details of the situation. Vivid description of the problem as the request is made is not necessary. An explicit detail made public does little for a marital or family situation. Just like the games we played as children; the words change as they are passed from one person to the next. A simple request for prayer is enough. The key here being the word “simple.”
Elaborate prayer requests can be gossip in disguise…can you be trusted? The author of Proverbs tells his reader that a gossip betrays a confidence. (Proverbs 11:13, 20:19) Betraying a friend’s confidence by labeling it a prayer request becomes gossip. Our public prayer requests need to be clear and simple. God will understand. Our friends do not need all the “gory details” in order to pray about the issue.
My prayer today is that I might not betray my friends or my God. Won’t you join me?
A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
By Debbie Legg
I was overwhelmed and exhausted.
To one extent or another, every wife and mom modifies their own lives and desires to benefit their loved ones. I am happy to do so, but juggling multiple roles over multiple weeks with multiple issues was taking its toll.
At the end of a long day I was journaling my frustration, and what felt like selfishness, to God. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, without having to make sure it fit everyone else’s whims and desires or feeling guilty about it, just once in a while.
Finally, I wrote the words, “Okay. Rant over, I guess. Help, Lord.”
Then I sensed in my heart, “I will show you the way if you will let Me.”
I took a deep breath. “Okay, Lord,” I thought, “shoot.”
“One day a week, schedule nothing. Choose a day and mark it off as your day.”
I blinked. Crickets chirped. This was an inconceivable concept to me.
“Wait. What? How? What would that even look like?”
“Only do what you want to do. Eat only what you want, go only where you want, be only what you want. I think you will be surprised at what you find and experience.”
Another deep breath. And another. Honestly, what did I have to lose by trying it for one day? I checked my calendar.
“Okay, Lord. I’ll try it tomorrow and report back.”
The next evening I did just that.
“Lord, wow. I read the book I wanted, ate the food I wanted (breakfast food, with crepes! No low carb today!), did laundry because I wanted, made the leftovers for dinner I wanted, watered the flowers because I wanted, stayed outside longer than I needed to because I wanted.
“I’m truly shocked at how much better I feel. I’m so used to putting everyone else’s needs first that I’ve forgotten to even consider my own. I was surprised that I actually wanted to do laundry and make leftovers. Nobody was neglected and I don’t feel selfish. I definitely need self-care/mental health days more often, and if I need to schedule them on the calendar, then schedule them I will.”
“Well done, My Daughter. You do need this. One day a week for yourself. The world will still turn. No one in your family will suffer, I promise. You cannot be all I created you to be, do all I created you to do, if you don’t take time to rest and be restored.”
And then it hit me. Sabbath.
This is what Sabbath looks like for me in this season of my life.
“Thank You, Lord, for making me lie down in green pastures and beside quiet waters. For teaching me how to let You restore my soul.”
There is a meme making the rounds that shows a low battery signal. It says “You wouldn't let this happen to your phone. Don't let it happen to you either. Self-care is a priority, not a luxury.”
What can you adjust in your life to make room for Sabbath?
If you’re not sure, ask God. I’m sure He has an idea.
If this post has encouraged you, encourage others by sharing and commenting.
If you'd like these posts delivered to your inbox, please head to our Contact page and subscribe.
by Amy Kemp
"Get wisdom - it's worth more than money; choose insight over income every time." (Proverbs 16:16)
Because I like to write, I journal daily. My journal pages include scripture, prayer requests, tear stains, and a few drops of long-since dried milk from my breakfast cereal bowl - which tells you a little bit about when words are penned in these journal pages of mine. I've probably filled the pages of 50+ spiral bound notebooks. My kids know that a journal is a safe gift for me; it will inevitably be used.
Sometimes, after I've written a scripture and pondered over it, I'll recognize that God and I shared a unique moment. I will re-read it and think it potentially worth another person's hearing. That happened with my writing from April 30, 2018.
It was a family devotion morning in the Kemp household. When my kids were in school, we started our Mondays with a family sit-down at the table to share a word and a prayer before the week began. I remember it being my week to lead. I opted to read for my family what I had written just that morning. After I had finished, my youngest daughter said, "Mom, did you write that? I thought you were reading from a devotional." So, I put a star by that date in my journal and thought, "Someday, to some audience, I'll share this again." Today is that day. You are that audience. I hope my ponderings from April 2018 bless you.
"Proverbs 16:16 - 'Get wisdom - it's worth more than money; choose insight over income every time.' Every translation I looked at said to get wisdom. That's intriguing. If you get something, you probably didn't earn it or work for it. I tried to think about phrases we often use. We get sick. We get a raise or a promotion. When we go shopping, friends/family members might ask, 'What did you get?' Or, students in a classroom will ask one another, 'What did you get?' when test scores are revealed. We also use that word with emotions. We get excited. Or, we get nervous. We don't use get with intelligence, though. Intelligence is earned; it is sought after. I would think wisdom is similar. In fact, with wisdom there is even more complexity because I've always thought of wisdom as tied to experience. Time and life make one wise. Where would you go to "get" wisdom?
Solomon asked for it and received it according the the scripture, which teaches that you can ask the Lord for it. So, in this verse, "Get wisdom" may be David's call to us to "Ask God to make you wise." Why? Because of its worth! In other verses, the worth of wisdom is likened to gold and silver. I wonder what a 2018 translation might say, ". . . worth more than stock in Apple? . . .worth more than a warehouse of Taylor guitars? . . . worth more than Oprah Winfrey's portfolio?"
In the second half of the verse, there is action on our part. Initially, David says, "Get wisdom." Now, the Word says, "Choose insight." That implies that there are other choices. Insight seems like quiet intellect--watching and observing so that you might walk away having learned something valuable. We can choose to observe, to be silent, and to take away from a situation (a teachable moment) or we can be bull-headed and barrel through, never gaining insight and perhaps damaging people and relationships around us.
Lastly, the scripture says to make the choice EVERY TIME. It's just like us to struggle with these crossroads of choice. We seem to say, 'Just this one time I'll act recklessly' or 'Just this once I'll operate on instinct instead of surmising what God would want. . .just. this. once.' Nope. EVERY TIME, choose insight. Elect to get wisdom.
Pray about it. Speak less. Listen more. Gain understanding, and You will be rich - far beyond the world's standards for wealth."
Thanks for being my audience 15 months later. Now, go get wisdom and choose insight!
By Becky Payne
I am a Doodle Mom! (For those who don’t know, a doodle is a poodle mixed with another breed of dog). I adopted Winnie the Doodle, a 3 year old goldendoodle in June 2018 from our local shelter, and last weekend I adopted Whoopie Doodle, a 13 month old aussiedoodle who was rescued from a puppy mill.
Puppy mill dogs have had little to no socialization, and are often abused and neglected. They are only good for breeding. Their life consists of being locked up in kennels which are often in deplorable conditions. There are many who rescue these dogs from these environments; however the dogs do not know how to be a dog. They may be rescued from these situations; but it can take months or years for them to truly experience freedom. They are no longer stuck in kennels without human contact, yet they still act and respond as if they are. They often carry such terror, anxiety, and distrust.
These two dogs have taught me so much about God and His love for us. My dogs struggle with fear and distrust, though Winnie has made great strides in over a year. They both are working to overcome these fears and fully accept my love, though they often revert back to their past behaviors.
Christine Caine in her study entitled Unashamed talks about the difference between deliverance and freedom as she refers to the Israelites enslavement in Egypt. The Lord delivered them from slavery; however they were not truly free until they entered the Promised Land. The journey to the Promised Land should have only taken eleven days; yet it took forty years. They could have been free in less than two weeks, but God knew the Israelites would never be truly free until they changed their mindset...until they let go of the slavery mentality.
In Exodus 14:10-12, we see this mindset as they had left Egypt and before they crossed the Red Sea. They were terrified and wanted to go back to slavery because they were more comfortable as slaves than they were of the unknown freedom ahead.
The next 40 years God was not keeping them from the good things in life. Instead He was preparing them to fully enjoy their freedom whenever they arrived in the Promised Land. They were stuck in a slavery mindset which said they were better off working as slaves instead of receiving God’s best for them. If they would have continued living with this mindset, they would never have been able to experience true freedom. They would always be driven by fear instead of by the God who is greater than their fears.
As we celebrate July 4th, are you free? Has God delivered you from bondage only to find you going back to your old way of life? Are you holding on to what is safe and comfortable or are you trusting God to bring you true freedom? Wherever you are on this journey, allow Him to mold and shape you so you can be free. It will be uncomfortable and even scary, but it will totally be worth it!!
Make me a servant Humble and meek
Lord let me lift up Those who are weak
And may the prayer Of my heart always be
Make me a servant today
An old chorus that kept going through my mind this morning. What has happened? Am I still a servant? Am I humble or as I grow older have I become a bit proud of my service to Him? We just finished a week of Bible School in our congregation and someone asked how many years I had been a part of VBS. I was very proud to tell them I had helped for 65 years. PROUD with a capital “P”! I did indicate I had missed a year in all that time. 😊 Why would I feel so proud? God has blessed me in more ways than anyone can imagine in those 65 Bible School experiences. It brought me Joy (with a capital “J”.) No need to be proud…God had given me his greatest treasures as I taught his children and watched them grow to bring their children and then their grandchildren. What a privilege He gave me.
And I sing humble and meek… meekness is not a trait I am known for in my circle of friends. Google defines meek as: “enduring injury with patience and without resentment; submissive.” These are not characteristics that have increased as I have aged. As an individual ages, we often begin to believe that we have the answers to everything. 😊 Meekness coupled with humble becomes a beautiful combination the more it grows, and I continue to pray that as his servant I acquire these qualities.
I tend to dwell on my weaknesses rather than lift those who are ‘weaker” than me. I used to walk three or four miles a day. So, I can’t do that anymore, but I can still walk and help those who need assistance of a cane or walker. I can shop and do errands for those who are in wheelchairs or bed-fast. Not three miles, but a few steps may be all that is necessary.
Once I had a very visible active role in my congregation. Because of circumstances of my choice that is not true at this stage in my life. However, so many people need an encouraging word, a time of prayer, or a pat of love. All lifting of the weak that I can still do.
So as these words linger with me today, I search my actions and pray again “Make me a servant today”
And whatever stage of life you may find yourself in today, I encourage you to join me in this prayer.
By Niki Packer
Last week’s Called and Confident blog about dreaming by Debbie Legg was very motivating to me. What would I do if I could only do one thing? What dream has God put in my heart? These questions excite me and make me want to talk and dream with God.
However, there is a theme that God has been repeating to me the last few weeks as it relates to dreaming big in God’s kingdom. It's something that doesn’t really excite me. It’s something that scares me and keeps me from dreaming. It’s a word I dread. The forbidden S-word. Sacrifice.
Sacrifice plays in big role in fulfilling dreams. In order to accomplish something, we have to give up something else. If we want to buy something, we give up money. If we want to vacation, we cut costs in other areas. If we want to go to college, we give up years of "regular" life and income. And if we want to see dreams come to fruition, there are countless things we'll have to give up along the way.
But maybe a better word for sacrifice in God's Kingdom would be EXCHANGE. I am giving up something, but what I'm receiving is way better.
In 2007 God gave me a dream for a Sunday night children’s program similar to a mini-VBS. We've now been doing the J-team ministry for 12 years and while it is fulfilling, it also means there’s a lot of work and sacrifices involved. Sundays are very long days for many of us while J-team is in session. There is much we have to exchange in order to plant Kingdom seeds in the children of our community. But the blessings are so much better than what we're giving up!
Invariably, the things that I think I want are never as good as what Jesus knows will fulfill me. When I trust Him, even in the sacrifices, the exchange rate I get is definitely in my favor! God never asks us to give up something just because He wants to see us suffer. He doesn't delight in watching us sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. But He does love for us to trust Him enough that what we give up will never be better than what He gives us.
So the next time the Lord asks you to sacrifice something, try trusting Him that the exchange will be to your benefit and the blessings far greater than the sacrifices.
By Debbie Legg
“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.”
In one of my favorite books, Essentialism, Greg McKeown teaches how to find the right things, including your Point of Highest Contribution, and structure your life so you can do it.
I believe Jesus revealed his Point of Highest Contribution (PHC) when He announced Himself in the synagogue in Luke 4:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:1-2a)
Reading through the gospels shows me everything He did fit into these categories.
Nothing He did was a waste of time. Everything had purpose, and impact. Even His distractions, like stopping to address the bleeding woman while on the way to Jairus’ house, were perfectly timed divine appointments.
Jesus got the right things, and only the right things, done.
I’m learning to as well. My right things include responsibilities as a wife, mom, daughter, volunteer, and general doer of all things household. After much prayer and learning, I’ve discovered that my Point of Highest Contribution, outside of my daily life, is as a writer. I’ve been using the principles in Essentialism to cut out nonessentials and distractions so I have maximum time to write.
Let’s dream a minute.
What is your Point of Highest Contribution?
If you could do one thing and one thing only, what would it be?
Take some time and let your spirit and soul ponder this. Immediately discard any thought that starts with “yeah, but...” It’s not about what’s practical or realistic.
Would you start a homeless shelter? A daycare? Feed the hungry or clothe the needy? Would you provide logistical help to existing organizations? Plant trees or flowers? Cook meals? Work to free and heal victims of human trafficking?
If you could do this, and only this, what would your life look like?
What if everyone found their own individual Points of Highest Contribution and did that, and only that? Everyone would be happy and fulfilled, and the world would be an exponentially better place…