Commission U: A Tribe of Iron Sharpeners

Commission U homily as shared @ The Gate Church on January 31, 2021

Many times, we as a church have acknowledged pastoral leaders, trailblazing missionaries, even ministerial entrepreneurs recognizing their calls to churches, nations and organizations. But seldom have we collectively celebrated the unique giftings in vocational leaders and those appointed to corporate frontlines.

For many of us, there’s been a convergence of conviction in recent years centered on the idea that fivefold ministry gifts aren’t exclusive to those with fivefold ministry callings. For instance, like vocational ministers, a CPA with God-given financial skills, a physician with a prophetic voice, a businessperson bent on benevolence can function in pastoral, evangelical, and apostolic anointings.

The question is…

Are we helping professionals, these Kingdom agents, connect their original design to their occupation? Are we helping them bridge the sacred and secular while on the clock?

While many answers could be said, the truth is we, at The Gate, believe works of the Spirit are manifold and meant to manifest in the marketplace. It’s also our belief anyone who is saved and aligned with Christ has difference-making, culture shaking potential as part of their appointed skill and spiritual gift mix…

…which brings us to today where it is with great pleasure we celebrate these [3] individuals who have fulfilled their Commission U requirements as part of Messenger’s initiative to equip marketplace ministers.

For those unaware of what Commission U is, we’re more than a credentialing course, more than a biweekly small group, more than a quest for frameable accomplishment; rather, we’re a tribe of iron sharpeners, a community helping disciple-makers discover and apply their spiritual gifts in worldly systems. Our aim is to train the saints to mature their faith and reach within their arenas of influence. That is our heart, the flow of our lifeblood.

In Scripture, the word ‘commission’ is used several times. In Genesis, we find Joseph being commissioned by Pharaoh as the vizier of Egypt. In Numbers, we find Eleazar the priest and Joshua being commissioned in front of large assemblies. In Acts, we find Paul being commissioned through the laying on of hands by Ananias.

While these cases may seem random, the point is in each of them God appointed his chosen to succeed. And it’s for this reason we are gathered here today: To charge these ambassadors to go and make disciples of all nations as well as their offices – to teach them to obey not only what they’ve chosen to follow, but what they continuously choose to abide in.

So, to our graduates, we employ and empower you to build upon the insight you’ve received and to see the Scriptures as God-breathed in what you put your hands to. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth [knowing] all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

And as 1 Peter 4:10 charges, may “each of you use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

And for the rest of us, know that we all carry a priestly identity embodying the incarnate – an ‘Immanuel’ (God with us) identity with ignitable Kingdom influence where we work.

On this note, we consecrate this moment by commissioning our Commission U graduates.

The Silver Linings of 2021

I’ll be honest: There’s a lot on my mind and chest right now.

Where to start, where to begin…

To be fair, I’m sure the same could be said about you. After the last year’s whirlwind, it makes sense to hope 2020 is true to its name: In focus and further distanced in the rear-view mirror.

Yet, as we embark on a fresh journey in this brave, new world, there’s one step we must take before the next. One step to fuel them all.  That step…is to stop.

That’s right. Before we step into 2021, we must first stop and consider where we’ve been and where we’re…God is taking us. However, to do this in full, not only must we surrender our desire to change on our terms but be willing to pray for what we press into.

For instance, we can pray for wisdom and strength to be different, to be better…but unless we posture our hearts to receive from God, our expectations will not calibrate to His nature.

As such, I submit we enter into the hope of 2021 with the following three points in mind. Granted, there will be more we discuss in the coming months. For now, let’s start with this trio and see where our dialogue takes us.

Ready, set, let’s go…

  1. Remember Your Aim

We are a people who tend to bite off more than we can chew. Our hearts may desire change but this doesn’t mean they desire what’s best and/or know the proper portions. Left to our own devices, we often crave the quickest road to recovery, reward, and large-scale transformation; however, as the Word attests, progress isn’t achieved by overcommitting to paths we plan but is accomplished through small steps we take with God each day (see Psalms 37:23, Proverbs 16:9; more on this in a moment).

As the Spirit confirmed in my heart last week, God’s best can’t always be measured by magnitude but can always be maximized by attitude. Accordingly, if you reframe your perspective to view change through this mindset, not only will you better scale your goals upfront but seize the strength to scale them when you confront.

Bottom line: Small and steady wins the race. Remember your aim is Jesus, not winning the world to Him. Consider your goals and invite the Lord to help you scale them. After all, you cannot grow if you do not yield and aim for purity in your maturity. As you pray into 2021, understand the road forward and onward is always one step at a time.

2. Delight in the Journey

In recent weeks, I’ve been reminded how central joy is to following Jesus. If we long to live as Christ, then we will take pleasure in what tethers us to His perfect will. In Scripture, we find several phrases that capture this reality…

“I know also, my God, that You test the heart and delight in uprightness and integrity. In the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things. So now with joy I have seen Your people who are present here, make their offerings willingly and freely to You.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:17 (AMP)

“Finally, my fellow believers, continue to rejoice and delight in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you. Therefore, my fellow believers, whom I love and long for, my delight and crown [my wreath of victory], in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” ~ Philippians 3:1; 4:1 (AMP)

“…nevertheless I am with you in spirit, delighted to see your good discipline [as you stand shoulder to shoulder and form a solid front] and to see the stability of your faith in Christ [your steadfast reliance on Him and your unwavering confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].” ~ Colossians 2:5 (AMP)

…but perhaps the one that strikes me most candidly is: Delight in God’s journey.

Again, I go back to Psalms 37:23: “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord who takes delight in His journey” which fittingly aligns with Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way but the LORD establishes his steps.”

This tells me two things:

  1. How God directs is meant to prompt us to His presence.
  2. What God establishes is meant to be a source of contagious joy and awe.

Consider this flashback from two years ago…

Written January 13, 2019

So today I’m walkin’ to work basking in the joy of winter feeling like winter when out of the corner of my ear, I hear ‘Joy to the World’ playing from a nearby corner street music station. At first, I’m like, ‘December is over. No more Christmas music!’ But almost instantly I hear that still, small voice whispering, ‘But Cam. Why not repeat the sounding joy?’

Of course, what can I say to that? Notes and lyrics that seem out of place by cultural timelines should always be in place by daily surrender. Better put, there’s a reason why certain Christmas songs like, ‘Deck the Halls’ and ‘Joy to the World’ are the only ones that can cure Everly’s nocturnal cries. Seriously, Caeden will start singing his ‘Fa, la, la, la’s’…and even if it’s a few minutes, all is calm and bright in the world.

As you walk with God, receive the practical, prudent reminders of His goodness, peace, and joy even they momentarily disagree with the senses.

Now, I know this may seem frivolous against the backdrop of recent political/social tension; however, we must not downplay delighting in the simple and spontaneous. For in this day, we may feel like we’re walking on eggshells more than sunshine…like we’re sinking in the decay around us. But this doesn’t mean we can’t take pleasure and hold of God’s best or stand in awe of what He has and continually gives.

Especially in seasons of turmoil and transition, our call is to participate in the divine and inspire likewise. While it’s okay to desire change, individually and corporately, don’t let this distract you from pointing people to Jesus as you work, as you wait, and as you champion appointed causes for such a time as this.

Bottom line: As you consider your 2021 riskolutions, make sure to take joy in God’s purposes and declare thanksgiving into places of doubt and uncertainty. Even in difficult situations, remember God only allows us to encounter what He allows (Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13). Whatever we face this year, know it doesn’t surprise God (Jeremiah 33:3) and He will provide a way before, for, and through us.

3. Persevere with Patience

No question, 2020 compelled many to higher levels of dependence with endurance and perseverance atop of the list. Yet, before we contrast 2020 to 2021, we should note endurance and perseverance are not the same things.

For example, endurance is staying the course when you’re tempted to give up; perseverance is leveling up when you’re tempted to get down. As I told LEGACYouth back in the day, endurance says ‘yes’; perseverance says ‘more’, but it all comes back to who we adore.

Consequently, while 2020 may have been a year of endurance and exposure for the church, I submit the pathway for 2021 is as follows: Perseverance, patience, perspective, and presence.

In other words, as we patiently await for the seas to calm, let’s persevere into God’s presence to gain His perspective on matters of culture, politics, and benevolence without yielding to churchspeak and hearsay. As the doxology of Jude reminds us…

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:17-25 (ESV)

Bottom line: As you endure with expectation and persevere in joy, cultivate intimacy. Don’t just engage the ways of God; engage God! Reference Him in what you can and can’t understand…when the waves of doubt cloud your mind. Embrace discovery through seeking and pondering. And dare to seek His footsteps and follow them to clarity.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Construction Executive

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2020

Written on 12/31/2020

Well, folks. We’ve made it. 

The last day of 2020. What a ride, what a roller coaster. 

Earlier this week, I posted the following on my Facebook page after some healthy reflections over the Christmas break…

As I consider 2021, two words come to mind: “Get up.”

In Scripture, we find good things happen when things that need to be put to rest…are put to rest. We see the phrase in Joshua 7 when God calls Joshua to consecrate His people to purge their idolatry and recalibrate their devotion. We see it during Paul’s conversion when God appoints him to serve as a minister (with authority) and leave his shame/deceptions behind. And we see it during healing testimonies like Mark 10:49 when a blind man takes heart, receives sight, and leaves his discouraging past behind. Even when Jesus is in Gethsemane, He charges His disciples with these words to help them pray and not fall into temptation. 🤔

In each case, a call to surrender, a call to faith, a call to action. Like the 12, you carry life-altering, disciple-making potential with the capacity to inspire change. But before you write off 2020 like a bad dream, dare to ask yourself, ‘Why am I sleeping?’ It may be uncomfortable (preaching to the choir here), but if freedom is an open door, repentance and faith-based endurance are the keys. All the more reason to seek God, lean into Jesus, and embrace movement¹ as you anticipate better things to come.

Selah.

However, as I continue to ponder what’s ahead, I keep coming back to the same question: If we treat 2020 like a piñata (i.e. “I’m so glad this year is over”, “Worst year of my life”, “What a year to forget”, etc.), are we really setting ourselves to ‘level up’ in 2021?

Not to suggest people didn’t have it hard this past year. Surely some, if not most, of us lost loved ones, colleagues, jobs, even dreams once held dear.

My thought is: As we contend for ‘heaven on earth’ in 2021, let’s not discount the good of 2020 at the cost of confronting the bad (and ugly); rather, in our quests to move on, in our counters to revisionist history, let’s make sure we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. After all, it’s hard to be thankful for something you’re desperate to forget…

which leads me to my key question for today: What’s your bottom line?

With respect to how you view 2020, how will you choose to remember it? 

Exhausting, Chaotic. Disorienting?

If so, you’re not alone.

I know as a local Nashvillian, times have been particular rough the past ten months. From a devastating tornado ravaging our downtown to the COVID-19 pandemic to the Christmas Day bombing, 2020 has been a textbook year for social unrest and political unease.

No one in their right mind would draw up a year like this. 

And yet…it happened. Whatever we say, whatever we do, we can’t erase the year’s narrative. As Rollo in Juno once said, This ain’t no Etch-a-SketchThis is one doodle that can’t be undid.”

So what then? Do we continue hiding behind our false securities? Cursing to the wind how unholy our inconveniences are?

Heck…no.

I mean…yes, there’s a right way to vent. As EMDR therapy has taught me this year, it’s wise to acknowledge raw emotions as opposed to instantly resisting them; however, what we do with them after we’ve come to terms makes all the difference. And I suppose that’s why I’m writing this: To make sure we are on the same page in our aerial processing of a year worthy of gratitude in how it’s made us corporately stronger. 

Take it from a guy who onboards non-profits in their journey towards incorporation and IRS approval. As turbulent as this year has been, there’s been a rise in the versatility of charitable mission and benevolence such as the world has never seen. Can we just pause to thank God for blessing us with creativity, determination and the opportunity to work them through adversity in ways we never thought possible?

For as the Word says…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12). After [he has] suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called him to his eternal glory in Christ, will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish [him] (1 Peter 5:10).” Therefore, “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

As for my bottom line, my aim is to step into 2021 the same way I’m leaving 2020: Thankful, humble, faithful, and aware that despite the setbacks, we are a people reset, a body united, and a collection of diverse perspectives working together for greater goods. 

No rose-colored lens. No wishful thinking. Simply hopeful expectations in my heart. Simply Jesus.

That’s all we can be and hope for as we press on in His name…together. Now and forever.

As for what tomorrow brings, all I know is for all the chaos and false doctrines, “…greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). I may not agree with you or even the leaders I voted for two months ago. But you better believe, these hands are going reach further next year than they ever have before. How that looks, I can’t say. But I do know if we do this together, the unity in community we crave will happen. One way or another. Why not dare to dream big and be faithful in the small in the days, weeks, and months ahead? 

Even if the despair is stubborn, even if your sky is falling, know we’ll be here rooting for you every step of the way.

As always,

~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry

Footnotes

  1. For many this will be in the form of discovery/recovery shaking. While there may be some aftershocks in 2021, eyes on the prize I believe the gains of strength through reconciliation and restoration will far outweigh (if not, accommodate) the pains. 

Cover photo creds: Pinterest