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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Carriers: The Reason We Exist (Part 2)

Part 1: Kingdom Agents: The Reason We Exist

So a few weeks back, I’m chillin’ in my humble abode, perusing a couple bivocational pastoral forums when I notice an intriguing update…

I work for UPS and have not taken a salary in the year and a half since I’ve been at my current church. They do provide a parsonage though. I have really been struggling with being bivo[cational]. Outside of my secular job I never feel I’m able to give enough or do enough for my ministry or my family. My job doesn’t build relationships because I’m all way in a different office and on different routes with no real interactions. It really is money only and I hate that. My dream would be to have a job [where] I can truly make money, not a get rich quick gimmick, and that gives flexibility when needed. Actually I’ve always dreamed of opening a coffee and sandwich shop. I have a dream to write but can never get enough time to make much progress. I just have been dealing a lot lately with not being enough, or not achieving enough, in any part of my life. It feels like the duck floating in the water. Things look smooth on the surface but underneath I’m fight what seems to be a losing fight right now. And I don’t know how to fix it or what to do.”

Now, before I continue, understand I’m normally not one to share anonymous posts; however, with this one, I can’t help but resonate given there are people like this all around us…

…questioning their purpose…

…making ends meet…

…all the while desperate to dream in light of their surroundings.

Accordingly, how we engage the chaos in a way that merges ‘hope of glory‘ and ‘hope of freedom‘ within our influence is worth discussion.

My thought is: whether you consider yourself vocational, bivocational, or multi-occupational, regardless of what you’re sacrificing, you desire to lay a foundation of life that pierces the mundane doldrums of an ego-driven culture.

Unfortunately, our desire to build upon this foundation is often offset by discouragement and disorientation. For example, some people know their identity as ‘loved by God’, but feel rudderless in a dead-end situation while for others, they have the ideal situation, but have no idea of who they are and what they’re truly called to.

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To compound matters, there is dissonance as people who see themselves as a collection of acquired skills and experiences collide with those who view their passions and assignments as functions of their uniqueness. Granted, we live in a fallen world of mixed perspectives where you are what you do outside of what you believe; hence, the tension many believers encounter when they take a servant mentality into the marketplace.

But for the dire dreamer determined to stay up on the down side of life, sometimes acknowledging the fact it’s not supposed to be easy isn’t enough. At some point, we must accept the fact people are not only looking for momentary motivation, but long-term resources and willing availability.

Not to suggest we downplay our readiness in giving answers for the hope we have. I’m just sayin’ if all we’re doing is pointing people, like the UPS man, in the right direction, can we honestly say we’re doing all we can to help? In counseling them to find the tools and direction they’re looking for?

And hear me: I’m not sayin’ we fix all the peoples…all the situations…and make floating ducks feel like power trucks.  I get there are times when all we can do is stand and point people in the way they’re to go.

However, if we see ourselves as Kingdom agents/ambassadors, then we should expect to receive appointed assignments where the only way to reach out is to create room…

…which leads me to why I’m writing this…

…so that we all can be more attuned in extending Jehovah-Jireh hope to the UPS man’s of the world…

…in conveying the promises of God who will not only provide, but get us to the other side…both in trust and in faith.

Perhaps you’re not a fan of who you are or where you’re at right now. Maybe you feel an awkward divide between you and who you wish to pour into1.

If so, I encourage you: stand strong, know you’re loved2, and invite God into the voids you sense. Remember you have what it takes to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:11-16)…and by not quitting, you ultimately help others do the same.

As to how we do that?

Well, let’s just say…

that is why we exist.

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Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Or who you wish could pour into you
  2. And never alone
Cover photo creds: benzinga.com

 

 

🥗 4 Shortcuts to a Leaner Life 💪

For years, His Girl Fryday has been helping people discover confidence within their influence from navigating challenges at work to managing ministry on the go. 

Yet, while our content has historically centered on internal inventory, occasionally we like to spice things up and go against the grain1

Thus, for today, I want to talk about some practical ways we can improve our eating/exercise habits having recently reached a major weight loss milestone.

Now I admit…I’m not the savviest of nutritionists nor do I sport the chisel-est of bods; however, what I do have is discipline, resolve, and the patience to see them through.

Accordingly, it is my hope these four dietary tidbits, while more conducive to long-term results, can better your family dynamic and pursuit of a leaning life…

1. De-dairy your diet

When time turned 2014, my body was in rough shape2. Granted, I wasn’t obese or struggling with an eating disorder; however, with a weight only a pound or two off my all-time max (i.e. 207 lbs), the sluggishness was real.

Thankfully, after making a list of dietary resolutions, it wasn’t long before I realized what dietary changes I needed to make and in what order. 

The first step? De-dairy my diet.

To do this, I narrowed the goal down to three phases:

  1. I replaced cow milk with almond milk – an unpopular move for my palate initially, but one I adjusted to3 after a month or so.
  2. I eliminated processed cheese from my diet – a minor correction, but a necessary one given my acid reflux history. 
  3. I reduced my intake of frozen dairy – easily, the toughest out, but conquerable once I a) allowed it to be a novelty and b) embraced dairy-free ice creams like Halo Top.

At first, physical changes were subtle; however, the more I established this rhythm, the better I felt overall on a daily basis.

Nowadays, if I’m ever craving cereal, a burger, and/or ice cream…check out the built-in savings…

  • Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with almond milk – 210 calories
  • Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with 2% milk – 255 calories
  • Difference: -30 
  • Burger King Whopper with no cheese/mayo + steak sauce – 550 calories
  • Burger King Whopper with cheese and mayo – 770 calories
  • Difference: -220
  • Halo Top chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 320 calories
  • Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 1000 calories
  • Difference: -680

Yeah, yeah…I know these examples may seem insignificant, but trust me: as you’ll soon see, they add up well with time…

2. Bun Voyage

If reducing dairy was the footing, cutting carbs was the foundation. After an August 2014 biometric screening revealed high amounts of triglycerides in my system, I realized I had to cut carbs and after weighing (pun intended) my options, I determined the best place to start was to make every sandwich an ‘open face’.

After all, the best part of a sandwich/burger is what lies in the middle. Why not cut out the redundancy?

At any rate, after three years later of de-breading/de-bunning my sandwiches/burgers …not to mention all the pizza crust thrown to my dog…the results speak for themselves.

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3. Walk the Plank

If you’re like me in the sense you have strong cardio discipline (~ 3-4 workouts a week), you likely have some sense of what foods will help you exercise more effectively; however, while tracking protein and complex carbs is ideal for better workouts, if you’re losing weight, it’s important to define what you trim.

For instance, I do a 3-5 minute variety plank routine and/or 40+4 push-ups before each run. Certainly, not a ‘have to’…but highly encouraged if you want a short and sweet road to transition fat to muscle within your core.

As I like to think, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a plank a day can only further the distance5.

By the way, this is not how you plank…

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4. Select Fasting

No question, my biggest dietary weakness is caffeine. It’s a drug for the day, a muse in the morning…whether you’re talking iced tea/cold brew/bottled soda on a hot, summer day or a roasty expresso on a cold, midwinter morning, the temptation is often tough to pass up.

However, as I discovered in a recent week-long fast, taking a break from fluids not named water, while old-school, is arguably the best way to detox your system. In my case, when fasting, I like to replace coffee and soda with sparkling peach-flavored water and green tea. Of course, there are many more options to choose from. The key here is not so much the substitution as it is giving your system time to be shocked. 

If liquid fasts aren’t your thing, consider fasting chips (or a similar salty guilty pleasure) one week, desserts another. Personally, I like capping my calories categorically (i.e. chips to 250, soda/dessert – 400 (on the few days I consume them), meals, in general, to 800), especially through liquid fasts since most of my empty calories come fluidly.

Another method you might try is ‘going green’ where 75/80%+ of lunches/dinners have the color in the meal. In our house, with dinner, we aim for steamed veggies and/or salads as sides 4-5 times/week; with lunch, we’ll often replace meat with cucumbers and heartier toppings with kale or spinach on wraps/bowls. Even snacks, we’ll munch on carrots or multi-grain crackers with avocado, hummus, black bean spread if we need a tie over. Again, not ground-breaking, rocket science strategies as much as tactical frameworks we can eat between.

Ultimately, the key with select fasting is identifying  your weak points, targeting them as voids, and filling them in with healthier alternatives6.

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So there you have it. Not the most inventive guide to a fuller, fitter life, but a workable template if your goal is to gradually lower those pant sizes, circumferences, and cholesterol levels. I know for some of you, going the keto way (or something similar) probably sounds more enticing, but if you prefer simple short cuts with long-term potential, consider these suggestions.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share any additional advice or testimony.

If not, know we’re cheering you on as you pursue a healthier, happier you…

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Footnotes

  1. Foreshadowing alert
  2. Gaining ten pounds of stress weight leading up to my wedding day in April 2013 that I hadn’t fully recovered from
  3. One could say I started finding it utterly delicious 😉
  4. My push-up count isn’t a set # as much as it is whatever my physical limit is for that day
  5. Speaking of distance, consider basing your cardio workouts on calories burned as opposed to miles. For me, I cut my runs off at 400 calories, unless I have more time/energy to burn.
  6. Specifically, ones that meet a nutritional need (i.e. vitamin ‘x’) as opposed to a habitual hankering
Cover photo creds: Wallpaper Studio 10

 

Halftime: A Musing on Life in 2018

Well, folks, the summer equinox is upon us and you know what that means…

…time for yet another enlightening installment of ‘halftime lessons learned’ where the year goes under inspection, the heart under reflection, and fears under subjection…

…where inventory becomes short story…

…and hopes teetering on paralysis find rest in analysis.

Now, I admit: when probing a year, I prefer filtering my thoughts into bite-sized, applicable takeaways; however, this year, I can’t help but feel I must take a different approach given its narrative and the irony of potentially leaving truth between the lines.

After all, not all years are created equal, and as such, easily quantifiable.

But where to begin…that is the question.

Obviously, life on the home front has changed significantly with Everly. Like Caeden, her joy has proved contagious in a year full of adjustments. Granted, with two under three and an adolescent pup, maturation compels naturally when a family grows for a third straight year. Even so, this year’s home-owning family of four has felt far more settled than last year’s house-hunting family of three. Accordingly, all is well and better than ever for me and my house.

Of course, not all change has been hunky-dory; the lack of youth ministry, in particular, has proven especially difficult.

For starters, I didn’t realize until after-the-fact just how much I’d assigned identity to role and pain to under the carpet 1 2. I suppose when you’re constantly pouring out and giving your all regardless of peripherals, it’s easy for that to become your reality. Unfortunately, the more you tolerate voids in this way, the more you think you can fill them loving on your own terms, as if the Golden Rule alone can grant purpose.

But as we know, that’s not how begetting life works3. Ultimately, if we desire a pure walk with God based in intimacy over responsibility, we must confront the interference…

…which brings me to where I’m at today…

…where if there’s any desperation, it’s for my sense of place and passion to be free from seeking re-orientation in ego4, specifically what should have been.

As the Lord has been convicting me in recent weeks, the world is searching for sacred love…is aching for eternity (as perpetual presence)…and yearning for believers to identify with Jesus. And while it’s easy to emphasize advancement and progress, there are seasons when we must return to awe, re-embrace the basics of our faith, and allow the gnosis5 of ‘we are not what we do’ to seep below the neckline6.

For when we allow God to reset, restart, and refresh both course and inner man, our strength is renewed to release not only what we lack, but what hasn’t worked7.

Think of it this way: whenever you crave wonder to extinguish discouragement, remember what truly lasts. Yes, seasons come and go. And yes, there will be times when you feel what should be happening isn’t happening.

But glory to God life is so much richer than our temporary inconveniences…that even in the midst of what’s not working or happening, he uses those voids to remind us who we are…and how much we need him.

And while the roadmap will surely vary from person to person…

…like a river to be crossed, we will get there.

As for the rest of 2018, there’s so much I could say, from our new family freelancing business to returning to school to finish my meteorology degree (see vid below for backstory); however, given much is still developing, I’ll hold off until December before lending a detailed update/recap.

‘Til then, enjoy halftime.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. In the name of endurance.
  2. Not to mention those pesky what if’s…like what if I had allowed myself to be poured into more consistently? What if I had recognized ‘x’ insecurity sooner? What if I had applied this personal/program correction at ‘x’ point? Etc, etc…
  3. Eternal esurance slogan?
  4. Notably in temporary measures like success, relationship, and comparisons
  5. Head knowledge
  6. Heart knowledge (i.e. epignosis); in case you need to know where I’m at, there you go
  7. Or isn’t working

Photo creds: Fine Art America