By Becky Payne
As I opened my FaceBook news feed yesterday I was bombarded with images and memories of people reminiscing about where they were 18 years ago when our country was attacked by terrorists. As I scrolled through numerous posts, the theme that was repeated over and over again was “We will not forget”. Many will remember those who lost their lives, the terrorism that caused it, and the sacrifice that many gave in efforts to save others; however I think that we often forget what happened over the next few weeks/months after the attacks. Through these awful events, people were united together. And, in those few weeks, the world was a more peaceful place as people joined together and loved each other.
As I was writing this blog I realized that UNITED Flight 93 was the only plane that did not reach its intended target. Why is that? I am sure there are many reasons, but one thing we know is how the people on this plane joined together and united as one to take on the terrorists. Even though they sacrificed their lives, their bravery and unity saved the lives of many people. I believe that their flight name is very fitting for those who were UNITED on Flight 93.
On 9/11/01 and the weeks that followed people joined together to help those in need, loving each other. For a short time, our country was united across race, religion, gender, political party, and age. Sadly that spirit of unity has worn off, moving us further and further away, to the point where people are tearing each other apart for the sake of their religious or political beliefs. This is causing our country and the church to fracture from within.
What Christ came to unite together is being splintered apart! Many Christians have missed the mark of what Jesus taught and lived out...loving others and working to draw all people to him. I believe that God is saddened when His children live contrary to His word. As a Christ follower, we are called to obey God’s Word in all things.
Psalm 133:1 & 3b says: How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!...For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
Ephesians 4:1-3 states, As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Colossians 3:14 says And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
According to these verses, living in unity is many things...It is good and pleasant; it leads to peace; and it is bound together by love.
Can you imagine a world that is bound by love, filled with peace and that is good and pleasant? Try unity! When we unite together our lives and the world is a much better place!
Because it is Thursday evening and I forgot it was my day to post, this post is taken from my book JUST WALKING. I went to mailbox this morning and walked into one of these lovely, sticky webs. Reminded me of this devotion and thought probably few people remember it...don't intend to do repeats but for today I will share this.
by Clella Camp
As I step outside my front door, I walk into a spider web. It stretches across my face like a mask at Halloween. I detest the sticky, creepy feeling. I reach to wipe it from my skin. In the early morning fog, I see spider webs are everywhere-on the grass, on the fence, even in the branches of the trees. The droplets of dew highlight each one, and then the sun slides through the fog and illuminates each masterpiece! I stop in awe and gaze at the webs that had been such a bother to me a few moments before. I see the promises of God.
I walk in the beauty of God's world as the sun makes rainbows in the spider webs. The intricate, thin thread spun into each individual, lacy pattern reminds me that I am God's unique creation. His beloved child! He knows the number of hairs on my head and promises me he will take care of me if I will let the light of his Son shine through the fog of my life. Just as the sun coming through the fog turned spider webs into works of beautiful, shimmering, woven lace, so can I be beautiful to God.
Too often I let the fog of worry and the fatigue of everyday concerns engulf me. A I let the entanglement with the spider web obliterate the beauty around me, I also let the concerns of life keep me from the beauty God has prepared for my life as his child. I could be the witness he intends for me to be here on earth if I would let the light of his love create rainbows in my daily life. Clinging to God, my life could be like the sun reflecting through the damp spider webs clinging to the fence-a thing of beauty.
The problems in my life become so like the spider webs across my face-clinging and sticking to me as I, by myself, try to wipe them away. Jesus told us, "Do not worry about your life. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they...and why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these"(Matthew 6:25-29)
And then he tells us what I so often forget, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33)
I encourage each of you to enjoy this season and let God provide for all of us.
By Niki Packer
We're approaching Fall, and it's my favorite season change of the year. Who doesn't love pumpkin spice everything, football games, wiener roasts, cooler temperatures, and bigger clothes that make you look a little closer to your driver's license weight!?
The new season coming up makes me think a little about the seasons of life and how differently those seasons can look. The calling we have today, may not be where God sends us in the next season of our lives.
Robert Morris points out in his book "The God I Never Knew" that we don't own our spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts as He sees fit, according to what is needed in each situation. I think the same is true for our callings. We don't own them; God merely uses us to accomplish His purposes for this season. And in the previous or next season of our lives, He may choose to do something different in and through us.
David started out as a shepherd; spent some time as a musician; then was a nomad/warrior; and ended his last season as a king. Moses was raised a prince; became a shepherd; and ended up leading a nation. And while often Bible characters start out in what we would call an occupation and then shift into more of a ministry, I think both are their callings for that season of their lives. David certainly was doing ministry while shepherding and calming King Saul with his music.
So if you are entering a new season, fear not, you are not alone. God has great things for you in whatever season you find yourself. Your calling as well as your giftings may look a little different in the next season of your life, but embrace the change. When the Holy Spirit is flowing through you to others, He decides what calling is needed for your benefit and those around you. So be open handed with your calling in this season. You don't own it and you can trust the Holy Spirit to use you for His eternal purposes.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything that happens in life - there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven. (The Voice)
By Debbie Legg
“Food tastes like oatmeal and color is just shades of gray.”
That was me describing a bout of depression. For me, depression results from turning anger in on myself.
Over the years I’ve learned some good ways to avoid going down that road. One particular source might seem a bit unconventional—a King who lived about 3,000 years ago.
David writes in Psalm 55, “my thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy…they bring down suffering upon me…My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me…If my enemy were insulting me, I could endure it…but it is…my companion, my close friend.”
That’s a little more intense than gray oatmeal. More like a steaming hot iron, pressed down and running over his chest, searing his heart and soul.
David is not in denial about betrayal. He isn’t holding back. He knows what happened, who did it, and how he feels about it. Rather than stuff it all down inside (as I tend to do), justifying, or blowing it off, he pours it out, expressing his feelings in a prayer to God, which is much healthier.
David takes the next step and imagines justice in the situation, telling God what he wants Him to do: "Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech…Let death take my enemies by surprise, let them go down alive to the grave."
This is where I would have stopped, where my prayers would have ended. I would have continued to focus on myself and the problem. Then I would have turned it inward.
Fortunately David didn’t stop there, and shows me the better way. David reminds himself of what he knows about God’s character and the ways he has seen God come through before: “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me…He hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me…Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall….But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days.”
Reminded of God’s love, protection and provision, David leaves it all in God’s hands to do what He wills. I love how David closes out his prayer. In the simplest and shortest of closings, David writes, “But as for me, I trust in You.”
And that is the secret. Focusing not on our pain, not on those who hurt us but on God and His ways, leaving it all in His hands.
Pursuing my calling in confidence becomes a whole lot easier when I’m focused on God’s goodness.
My taste buds and vision are equally thankful.
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.
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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!
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