Love Reminders: Why Voids Are Not To Be Avoided

I got a random question for you…

Have you ever wondered why it’s easier to accept your flaws as opposed to your voids?

Flaws = Weaknesses, imperfections, what you can control and change

Voids = Lacking a necessary good, what you can’t control and change

If so, I want to encourage you: No matter how vast, no matter how voluminous the void, God’s sovereignty is always greater to not only fill it, but overflow it.

Granted, this truth is clearer conceptually than applicably, not to mention I’m sure there are some who struggle less with voids than flaws; however, in case you’re sittin’ there thinking I get all this, I just don’t know how to get there, consider this post a joint dive in discovering fresh purpose in places you never thought possible.

‘Cause truth is, for many of us (myself included), we prefer bridging our voids as opposed to exploring them in depth. Even when we do take the plunge, we’re often not ready for what we may find be it ego, fears, and/or our infatuation with the past. As Richard Rohr states in his book, Immortal Diamond

Whether humans admit to or not, we’re all in love with the status quo and the past, even when it’s killing us. [For most], it’s easier to gather energy around death, pain and problems than joy. For some sad reason, it’s joy we hold lightly and victimhood we hold on to.”

This in mind, let’s go back to the initial question and rephrase it: When it comes to the holes in our lives, have you ever wondered why we put God behind the telescope and our voids under the microscope?

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Or are we so content in idolizing what’s not working in our life, so content in finding identity in ego¹, we fail to see our voids as God’s love reminder. To quote Jamie George, senior pastor at Journey Church in Franklin, Tennessee, “The thing that’s not working [in your life] is your opportunity for salvation to be saved from your ego and remember who you are.”

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Accordingly, the reason we wrestle with our voids often ties to not knowing what God wants to reveal through them. On the surface, we admit God wants us to know the highest heights of His love in the darkest depths of our despair. Yet, deeper down, we fade God in light of false hopes telling our trust what to do. Before we know it, we’re lost in a search for meaning outside the only place we can find it desperate for breakthrough, but not necessarily for freedom.

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Perhaps this is why Jesus taught love as an invitation first (Psalm 91:14, Matthew 11:28-30, John 3:16, John 15:15, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:38-39, Revelation 3:20) and as an instruction second (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Matthew 22:37-40)…so we could see awe in the awful and life as not only richer than temporary troubles, but richer because of them! The inevitable hurdles we encounter, they are more than opportunities to be humbled, but lifelines we’re passionately loved and rescued through. Therefore, we must accept the fact voids are imperative in the narrative of our lives as they offer a chance to centralize Christ as our security, the redeemer of all things who takes our time traveling tendencies and morphs them into a desire to know God as perpetual presence.

Think of it this way: In this life, on this side of heaven, there are many people living apart from God. To them, fear in the face of chaos makes perfect sense. After all, they have nothing to rely on other than themselves, their hope a mere flatline on the cardiogram of circumstance. But to those who trust in God, they can fear² Him in disarray knowing the chasms created in trial also create the heart space we need to receive those aforementioned love reminders³. As I told a colleague at work today, an empty container is better than no container at all since only the former can be opened and poured into.

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Bottom line:  Whatever you did…whatever you’re going through…those experiences are never worth the fear we preserve keeping them close at heart. Remember your battle scars are more than checkpoints signifying where you got it right; they are altars pointing people in the direction of wonder and reference…the veins by which people can know God longs to commune with them. Ultimately, our voids help us adore God, abide in gratitude, and die to our need to make sense of it all.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. The sum of self-reliance/independence (i.e. prioritizing reason over faith); sentence shout-out to Jamie George and his Awakening series
  2. Fear as in awe/adoration
  3. See Psalm 23:1-4
Cover photo creds: medium.com

Intentional to Be Intentional

Intentional.

We like to throw the word around, don’t we?

Granted, not intentionally¹, but enough we risk growing desensitized, even numb, to its mention.

Perhaps you’re like me wondering how to take not only your goal-setting, but your intentionality to the next level in 2019. If so, consider the following question:

How do we  become more intentional in our intentionality?’

For while most understand intentionality implies an upgrade in dedication…as being more mindful more often…not nearly as many see the term as anything more than the sum of its google definitions…
…which leads me to my first point.

Point 1: To embrace intentionality we must first see its core as covenantal commitment. For all you resolution setters out there, this is imperative to keep in mind. To achieve any goal with purpose, you must not only count the cost, but weigh it against an appointed strategy (more on this in a moment).

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” ~ Luke 14:28 (ESV)

Furthermore, it’s worth noting whenever we appropriate a particular cost, we’re also considering the promises and blessings of God (see how God institutes his covenants with the patriachs in Genesis). As such, to be intentional is to examine the faithfulness of God in all three time dimensions (i.e. past, present, future).

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Point 2: To embrace intentionality, we must view it as a relational/communal experience as opposed to individual effort. Like point 1, this concept is necessary both for pursuing the dreams/visions God plants as well as the sustaining of them.

Note how the Psalmist discerns God as one who delegates and journeys with us through the obedience…

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him [and worship Him with awe-inspired reverence and obedience], On those who hope [confidently] in His compassion and lovingkindness.” ~ Psalm 33:18 (AMP)

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence? Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why have you become restless and disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”” ~ Psalm 42:5,11 (AMP)

Put another way, whether God delegates an assignment or gives direction, He always offers the hope of experiencing Him in greater measure. Props to Webster, but unfortunately this something he missed in his dictionary.

Point 3: To embrace intentionality, we must understand our response to what God appoints and appropriates. For when God appoints, He is often granting fresh instruction and direction; however, when God appropriates, He is setting aside something for our possession that we already have.

Having said that, if you’re ever unsure what God is saying, always yield in surrender knowing God has anointed you to what He’s appointed you.

Ephesians 5:15-17 captures this beautifully in three simple words:  know His will.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” ~ Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

A couple key nuggets from this passage…

1) Note how the context leading up to this passage centers on living on children of light and knowing what’s worth participating in. This is important to grasp as knowing our true identity (i.e. children of light) enables us to perceive our function/calling as an overflow/extension of that identity.

2) In verse 16, the Greek wording for ‘making the best’ means “buy up at the marketplace”, to see the opportunity as a commodity used by believers. This may sound strange at first; however, in the context of God’s evangelical economy, recognizing opportunity is crucial to valuing/seizing the time He’s given us.

With that in mind, we can better comprehend Paul’s charge at Ephesus, particularly the  transactional effects of Matthew 6:33 (which I submit is an underrated definition of intentionality)…

“But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.”

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Final Thoughts

  • While many of us like operating under the cover of ‘intentional’…in feeling secure in what we’re going after as opposed to being confident we’ll actually get there…true intentionality is never content on defining goals until it has established tactical strategies.
  • Intentionality is often received as a reactionary buzz word. If this truth resonates, we must re-evaluate our understanding of the term.
  • Often there’s a disconnect between what is good for us and what we want to be good for us. Accordingly, it should be no surprise if shallow convictions are met with shallow efforts. If we’re skeptical/indifferent concerning the sacrifice intentionality requires, we’ll be derailed by the facets of life that don’t cooperate amidst our pursuits.
  • Referencing the Lord with our intentions helps us know if God is in them. When we seek the Lord, not only must we seek with expectancy knowing He will answer, but also inquire how to integrate that answer into the priorities and commitments He’s already established/will continue to establish (see 2 Samuel 5 when David repeatedly references God in his tactical analysis). Remember in the realm of grace, there’s a natural rhythm embedded in the natural order of these priorities and commitments. Thus, by keeping God first, foremost, and center, we can know a higher level of intentionality with what He’s given us.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. See what I did there? 😉
Cover photo creds: billiemakesahome.info

 

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2018

I’ll be honest…

…it’s hard to know how to process this year.

I mean…it’s not like things went according to plan…as if all my resolutions came to fruition; granted a lack of bucket list checks is nothing new in the history of late Decembers.

Still, as I look back on 2018, I can’t help but bask in awe. For while each year is its own journey, there are some more seismic, more catalytic in nature. To capture their magnitude? Nearly impossible. But to consecrate them into altars of gratitude? Now we’re talkin’.

Perhaps you’re wondering how you survived the year, hoping to find hidden truths between the lines months, or stressing about what next year will bring. If so, consider this simple year-in-review…a year that started in obscurity yet finished with a renewed embrace of it.

But where to begin. That is the question…

I suppose the best place to start is last Christmas when Everly Hope made her debut weeks after our last days in LEGACYouth and Ramsey Solutions.

While ushering in our new bundle of joy was certainly a lifetime highlight, it didn’t negate the fact going into 2018 was the meteorological equivalent of a clear, sunny day turned cold, freezing fog. So much of what we were used to was now lost in what we couldn’t see.

No more Wednesday morning devotions at work, no more co-workers and paycheck security (at least for Lys) no more sermon prepping, no more ministry on the go.

I remember a stretch in January I’d drive to work feeling all I had was daily bread and the world’s best family. I know, I know…this is [way] more than enough for the majority of the world’s population. I get that. I’m one blessed man; let the record stand.

However, as an exposed man realizing how much identity he had put in what he put out (i.e. how much personal worth he had assigned to ministry), no longer could I reconcile the sum of what I had versus what I didn’t have.

Lost in ego, it became quite clear the sabbatical God called Lys and I to when 2018 started was going to go much deeper than the average church break. I needed to find myself seek Jesus, embrace the words I’d been preaching for years, and let the tables turn.

And so it began, this foreign survey into various liturgies and doxologies, each Sunday a chance to learn something new about my local church. One step back, two steps forward. One step back, two steps forward. Never before has being a complete stranger, especially in church community, been so exciting yet awkward at the same time. Timely words pitted against uncertainty, a functioning compass that felt broken more often than not…this was my reality heading into late June.

Halftime Musings: https://hisgirlfryday.com/2018/06/28/halftime-a-musing-on-life-in-2018/

But to God’s credit, with assists from Jamie George and several Messenger colleagues, the heart, though bruised, kept rhythm. Yes, I missed LEGACYouth. Yes, I missed having a ministerial outlet where I could justify my day job by what I did outside it. But somehow, I was able to catch the bigger picture. God was not only after my heart, but my independence.

By time July arrived, the stage was set. All I had to do was keep my ears open.

Of course, you may know what happens next. If not, I’ll let this post do the talking:

Begin Again: https://hisgirlfryday.com/2018/09/06/begin-again/

In hindsight, it’s interesting to see the progression between late June and early September. As my harshest critic, accept my word when I say what God did during this time was nothing less than a minor miracle.

And yeah, I get a return to your home church isn’t exactly a $1,000 check in the mail or an ailment being instantly healed. At the same time, I think anytime a certain amount of pain, regardless its form, is supernaturally conquered, it must find anchor in testimony.

In my case, I went back to places of untended hurt, having previously hoped the end of LEGACYouth would be the end of them. After surrendering the ‘sail into sunset’ narrative for a ‘look what I will do in Act 2’ declaration, I finally did what I should have done years ago: I traded the vain imaginations, the depressive thoughts, the hopeless medications in for a buy-in into God’s plan of restoration. Whatever happened in ‘Act 1’ had to be released. Thanks to divine grace and that ever pestering still small voice, I was able to let go like never before.

And wouldn’t you know it…as all this was happening…ten years of on and off stomach ulcer-like symptoms vanished. It’s almost like God was giving me a head start into the fall (i.e. ‘You commit to this, I’ll heal you of your depression!’ And boom! It happened. Unexplainable, indescribable…yet unsurprising. A recipe for knowing where God is.

At any rate, while much happened this year behind closed doors, at times underground, no question there were many seeds planted that have taken root and will sprout in years to come.

As for what happened elsewhere, I’ll let the video and Q&A segment below take it from here.


When you think back on 2018, what immediately comes to mind?

CF: “Begin Again. The official battle-cry proclamation of 2018. Victory, repaved foundations, fresh trust in the Lord…quite a bit actually.

LF: “Change and transition. I felt the whole year was shifting sands. New baby, new career, new challenges. Concerning the latter, while we overcame and succeeded most of them, perhaps none was bigger than replacing my income as a stay-at-home virtual assistant with Everly in the fold. Despite all we’ve been tackling, we’ve been tackling them as a team. We’re ending the year on a totally different level.”

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What were some of the highlights/defining moments?

CF: “Conquering anxiety. The physical effects of my depression being healed. Our story in going back to The Gate. That late summer stretch was memorable on multiple fronts. Interesting to note in past Q&A’s, the answers to this question often featured events and travels, but this was a year that required a sabbatical and less mobility as part of its narrative.  As such, while our yieldedness felt more grounded at times, I think it ultimately helped establish the undercurrents that would go on to define the year. On a more secondary note, building the bridge between His Girl Fryday and Fry Freelance has been an exciting, though at times humbling, experience.”

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LF: “Landing my clients. Seeing God come through in this way was truly amazing. Knocking out the postpartum much quicker this go-around. Embracing the overall momentum that came with accepting the children’s pastoral role at The Gate. Learning a new rhythm without feeling I’m just surviving was defining in itself.”

How would you compare this year of marriage to the past years?

CF: “We have a more well-rounded idea of what intimacy is. In recent years, we’ve seen our communication tighten, but this year, I feel our desire to be on the same page is greater than ever. We’re not just picking and choosing how we want to be close. I suppose the type of troubleshooting and hurdle-clearing we’ve had to do this year is a major reason why.”

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LF: “This year has been more real. To end it on a high note, after so much transition…that says a lot. We’ve had some of our most intense discussions this year, but they brought us closer while pushing us towards growth and deeper connection. We’re getting better at being intentional. This was a ‘make or break’ year and while it wasn’t always pretty, we’re coming out stronger.” 

What lesson from 2018 are you eager to apply in 2019?

CF: “The relationship between dependence and satisfaction in the Lord. While we know we have every reason to trust God, He never stops pursuing our reliance and purifying our sense of worth. Furthermore, I better understand the connection between abiding in peace and not needing to make sense of my surroundings. I’m considerably more content in obeying without the entitlement of knowing why. In a way, I feel I have built-in relief for 2019 based on what God has taught me this year. One more lesson…sometimes, the dreams we think are dead are just dormant instead.”

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LF: “I’ve learned so much about grace, the kind that propels you to keep going. This year we’ve oscillated being being intentional and reactionary. Going into 2019, my heart and focus is on being more intentional as a function of overflow. That’s the word buzzing in my heart right now. I yearn to overflow as I surrender security and self-preservation and engage worship in all aspects of life. Given my belief in 2019 being more addition by multiplication, how we overflow is going to go a long way in how we mature as givers.”

What do you hope you’ll be saying at this time next year?

CF: “We’ve broadened our voice. We‘re working from home. We’re better stewards of what we’ve been given. We took the next steps of intentionality across the board…and are closer to God and each other because of it.”

LF: “#Livingourbestlife. We invested in what matters. We traveled more and were able to expose the kids to more outside of themselves. I reached my goal weight having hit the halfway point the year before.

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Peace to the journey that is 2019…

~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry

Nothin’ ‘Bout The Blood

So last week I’m on a Messenger Zoom call discussing Triune worldviews when a chilling question is raised:

Are we, as rising, maturing believers valuing the bloodand living in light of that ‘precious flow [making us] white as snow’?

Certainly, it’s easy to think we are given Christ’s death and resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity.

But what if I told you to the extent we detach God’s communal nature as a foundation of love from our corporate theological foundation, to that extent we reduce the blood as nothing more than a sacrament. Would you agree?

If not, permit me to connect some dots after laying some groundwork…

1. To construct a worldview from the core of God’s nature, we must accept the fact God is a Communion of Three Persons in perfect love.

2. From there, we can establish and grow Biblical community in the same way God does His work: by multiplying what He is as a communion of love.

3. Only then can we value the Gospel and consequentially, understand the destructiveness of sin.

Unfortunately, as we progress in this post-Millennial age, the more young believers are distancing themselves from the saviorhood of Jesus2. As a former student pastor, I can attest to this. For many youth, believing the universal lordship of Jesus having once saved is far less challenging than accepting their current need for a sovereign Redeemer who continues to save.

Granted, our culture’s emphasis of reason over revelation and self-autonomy allots sense to the trend. That said, one must wonder how a world system based on deficiency is affecting the church’s thirst for relevancy.

Take ‘mission’ for example. For most, mission is seen as a journey, an assignment or a means to an end; however, when we note the Godhead, we find ‘mission’ to be an overflow of an established nature.

You see, before love could be extended, there had to be an identity with the ability to love; hence, why so many feel the weight of performance given they’re trying to abide in love not knowing who they really are and as such, forget the key to anything starts and ends with being loved by God.

The question is…

Are we abiding in love…or are we searching in love to find ourselves? Are we trusting God to fill our needs or filling our needs to trust in God? Are we forgiving having received grace or seeking grace in order to forgive?

Either way, it’s worth reminding ourselves…

  1. There’s no depravity God can’t redeem.
  2. Abiding in who we are in Christ is the blueprint to Holy Spirit dependence.
  3. The bedrock of truth, especially as revealed in revelation, is cemented when we allow God to reveal Himself in all circumstances.

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As for the blood’s depreciation among ‘next gen’ believers, it’s important we, as the body, perceive the issue as a conflict between identity and performance. For as long as Western individualism exists, so will the temptation to approach mission as drive, fellowship as metric, sin as shame…and thus, the blood as obsolete.

Yet, when we remember we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), when we accept Christ’s atonement as the security of our freedom, only then will we understand the blood’s purpose in all things.

For instance…

The blood is central to our community:

Take care and be on guard for yourselves and for the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd (tend, feed, guide) the church of God which He bought with His own blood.” ~ Acts 20:28 (AMP)

The blood is central to reconciliation:

…and through [the intervention of] the Son to reconcile all things to Himself, making peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say,] whether things on earth or things in heaven.” ~ Colossians 1:20 (AMP)

The blood is central to redemption:

In Him we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the riches of His grace.” ~ Ephesians 1:7 (AMP)

The blood is central to cleansing:

But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come…He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer is sufficient for the cleansing of the body, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal [Holy] Spirit willingly offered Himself unblemished  to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the ever living God?”~ Hebrews 9:11-14 (AMP)

Let us approach [God] with a true and sincere heart in unqualified assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” ~ Hebrews 10:22 (AMP)

Get the picture?

My final thoughts are:

1. To minimize the blood is to minimize our freedom in Christ as it stresses our fear of deficiency over God’s sufficiency (2 Corinthians 12:9).

2. Instead of wanting to be relevant, why make the Good Newsprevalent? After all, the presence of goodwillis a testament to the Good News of the Gospel – the fact Jesus continues to heal the oppressed and set captives free having reconciled us to God through…(wait for it)… His shed blood.

3. Accordingly, by downplaying Christ’s sacrifice, we risk performance systems bridging the gap not only between identity and sin, but also church and mission (more on this in a future post).

I don’t know about you, but give me Jesus and the power of the cross as the divide between those medians.

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Looking ahead, stay tuned for a sequel post where I’ll dive into more detail on how we can better educate young people on how to live in God’s present ministry of reconciliation5.

‘Til then, peace be the journey

~ Cameron

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Of Jesus
  2. This coming an observation from multiple pastoral colleagues across the country
  3. Which can’t be separated from Christ’s ultimate sacrifice
  4. And our call to extend it
  5. An active reality, not a past occurrence
Cover photo creds: Mudpreacher.org

Begin Again

I’m feeling dry in mid-July as I take to a familiar scene…

…where Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are, once again…

…deep in nightscape dialogue.

Like them, it’s been a year where nocturnal serenity has frequented my cul-de-sac of vulnerability.

Perhaps this is why I’m watching this, I think to myself.

After all, it’s not every day you catch a cinematic glimpse of what you and God do once the kids go down.

Walk and talk.

Walk and talk.

The perfect end to an imperfect day.

But this time…things are different. For once, I’m inside and idle, content in a still of a different kind.

Riding the rarity, I dive in, the laughs and prose all working towards this one moment…

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…sealed by a mic drop for the soul.

And yet, this story, in more ways than one, is just beginning.

For as credits roll, I approach the screen…

…to shelve a case of what was seen…

…only to balk and wonder why.

Why don’t I want to leave this moment, I wonder.

Perhaps it’s a sequence, a song, an emotional call. Perhaps the answer is ‘none at all’.

Either way, I’m at peace. Let it go, let it rest. Sometimes, walking away is best.

Flash-forward to mid-August and I’m cleaning again…the aura of Pledge, a fitting calm.

Then suddenly, it hits me

…what struck me that night was not the scene, but the title itself

…slowly marinating into the stubborn caverns of my disbelief.

Two words…we need, but take for granted; two words…preached, yet breached and slanted.

Two words…an answer once hoped for; two words…a truth igniting my core.

Two words for two months…and likely beyond. Now comes the part I ‘yes’ and respond.

And so it goes…there’s nothing God can’t use to find us and whisper the sweet reminder…

…that sometimes, to go forward, we must go back and…

begin again.

Roll credits.

Photo creds: 7-Themes, Pinterest