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.

tenor

Selah.

Footnotes

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

 

 

Bearing Forbearance: A SOAP Study on Philippians 4:4-5

Scripture: Phil. 4:4-5

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” (ESV)

d – or gentleness (NIV) or graciousness (HCSB) or considerate (NLT)

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!” (MSG)

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. ” (AMP)

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your [b]forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (ASV)

Other mentions of forbearance…

✓ O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach.” ~ Jeremiah 15:15

✓ Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” ~ Romans 2:4

✓ Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” ~ Romans 3:25

✓ Where your fathers tried Me by testing [My forbearance and tolerance], And saw My works for forty years [And found I stood their test].” ~ Hebrews 3:9

✓ Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another.” ~ Colossians 3:12–13 1

Observations:

1. Forbearance, a word generally found in the King James Version, has two meanings: One is to delay repayment of a debt and the second is an attribute of God’s nature, specifically holding back rightful judgment in favor of patience, mercy, and kindness.

2. Forbearance’s short-term benefit is repentance and its long-term benefit is freedom.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, KJV).

In this instance, Paul is warning us not to confuse a delay in discipline/judgment as disinterest or a lack of grace. Instead, Paul is emphasizing the fact we should forbear to judge others given God is constantly forbearing in judging the world.

3. Forbearance is a versatile quality God highly esteems. In fact, several of its facets connect to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Whether manifest as patience, endurance or gentleness, forbearance is woven throughout the Bible (Proverbs 25:15Ephesians 4:2).

Applications:

1. We live in a world where much comes down to bandwidth and margin. Whether in business, law, or real estate, we tend to think of forbearance has a negative term as it implies the inevitability of a negative outcome…a turning over the keys, if you will. And I think for many of us this results in seeing forbearance as a surrender of control when it reality it’s a surrender of immediate judgment.

Conviction: We talk about making room for Jesus (“prepare Him room” – a popular phrase in worship circles), but often we don’t emphasize making room for forgiveness. Forbearance, while a present action, invests in the future and says when someone wrongs me…when someone offends me…I’m going to be ready. Not for retaliation, not for revenge or manipulation, but for patient grace, for meekness as the model of humility. Hence, why forbearance is an extension of 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Forbearance has been said to be a honorary fruit of the Spirit; however, the more I think about it, forbearance is perhaps better described as a fruit basket of the Spirit.

2. A repeated command in Scripture is “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14Proverbs 20:221 Corinthians 4:5Isaiah 40:31). Thus, it could be said…

God requires us to wait upon Him in order to help us develop forbearance.

For when we wait upon the Lord, we ultimately increase our capacity to forbear with those around us (1 Peter 3:8).

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Furthermore, sometimes the best place/time to wait on the Lord is when we’re working. As a finance employee, being single-focused on a particular task can come in handy, not only for the job at hand, but in my aim to hear God. Sure, there may be days I feel I’m sinking in the mud of mundanity; however, if I choose to see my effort as an opportunity to listen to my Creator, not only will I develop a more sensitive ear, but a more forbearing heart in the sense I’m cultivating yieldedness as opposed to self-sufficient tolerance.

3. If we’re meant to bear fruit, each others burdens, and with each other in love with all humility and patience forsaking self-righteousness, then forbearance helps get us there. It’s embracing the fact we can reflect the very nature of God without using it our advantage (Phil 2:6-8) as we make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). It’s a remarkable tool in our spiritual arsenal as it flips the legal IOU mentality for a selfless IOU reality that says. ‘I owe you nothing more than what God shows me every day.’

4. Unfortunately, for many of us, it’s easy to ‘conditional-ize’ forbearance among those we’re comfortable with. We compartmentalize and ration it as we please…as we see fit. I’m sure many of us have seen this demonstrated in secular settings…in the workplace…in the field and beyond. And part of this ties to the obvious…not all are saved, following the Lord, or aiming to be like him so we can’t expect to be on the receiving end of what, rather who, we’re trying to emulate.

At the same time, we can’t give up in being the change we crave, specifically respect to forbearance, being an agent of unbiased unity. When we zoom at Philippians 4 as a whole, note how Paul structures the chapter. Before he talks about how to think and act purely, how he’s learned to be content in all things…how he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, he first talks about being united. He’s taking vacuum out of the equation.

Forbearance isn’t an exclusive right or privilege, it’s part of a corporate calling that goes beyond the bandwidths and margins we so often quantify. If we truly want to lead a full life, we must be open to full kindness as it’s part of how God leads us to repentance. And shouldn’t we ultimately want this for everyone?

Bottom line: The bridge between being ‘slow to anger’ and ‘abounding in love’ (Psalm 86:15) is forbearance.

Prayer: (see 20:51-22:19)

Footnotes

  1. The New Living Translation words it this way: Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.
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

The True Meaning Behind ‘Spring Forward’ (Part 1)

After last week’s intro on ‘springing forward’, I want to drill down and discuss how this looks when we love with a pure heart (1 Timothy 1:5).

But before we dig in, let’s refresh ourselves on where we’re going. As previously defined, to ‘spring forward’ is to allow God’s wellsprings of life to spring up within; however, how this happens, as we’ll unpack in this series, depends on our surrender, or as Romans 1:17 puts it, “springing from faith in a way that awakens more faith“.

Granted, the subject lends to an array of starting points; thus, to simplify, let’s begin with the two greatest commandments as expressed through 1 Timothy 1.

First The Message (v. 5-7)

 “The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

Now The Amplified

But the goal of our instruction is love [which springs] from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some individuals have wandered away from these things into empty arguments and useless discussions, wanting to be teachers of the Law [of Moses], even though they do not understand the terms they use or the subjects about which they make [such] confident declarations.

Note Paul’s emphasis on love as life source reminiscent to 1 Corinthians 13:1:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 

Essentially, Paul is reminding us how the evidence of our faith must be rooted in selfless love and a life ready to receive it.

For if what we model springs only from good intention, then we risk insulating the sincerity of our faith and the purity of our heart from its overflow1.

Now consider 1 Timothy 1:13b-16

But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus…[who] came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost…I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”

Applying our premise to Paul’s testimony, we find if we want to love with a pure heart, we must surrender² with the intent to receive mercy and faith through grace. In this way, we posture ourselves not only to abide in humility, but also to embrace God’s joy as strength while persevering in unceasing prayer³ (see James 1:12).

From there, once repentance4 becomes rhythm, we can better live Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8-9 in the sense we’re…

  • Transformed by the renewing of our minds to better discern God’s will…
  • Equipped to know whatever is honorable, true, admirable…and yes, you guessed it…pure
  • Empowered to love and pray for/speak life to challenging, unreciprocating personalities.

Remember the ultimate goal is to allow God’s life to spring up within our wellsprings. Therefore, to purify our flow, we must purge the contaminants of insecurity, offense, fear, anxiety, and self-reliance while filtering in Psalm 51:10/Matthew 5:8 through the heart-cry of…

“Lord, create in me what will allow me to see AND reflect you!”

…a pure heart surrounded in steadfast spirit.

In closing, I encourage you…

  • Draw near to God with a true heart (Hebrews 10:22) in full assurance of faith…
  • Cleanse yourself from what is dishonorable…fleeing youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:21)…
  • Purify your wells by substituting any form of worldly reliance (performance, excellence, likability, even perceived integrity) for a Holy Spirit reliance through which you can discover what you were made to long for: love from a pure heart
  • Continue pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace…along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).

tenor

Stay tuned next time when we’ll tackle part 2 in our ‘spring forward’ series: maturing faith from holy confidence. In the meantime, if you have any questions and/or need prayer concerning this issue, feel free to contact me or Lys at your convenience and we’d be delighted to offer our support.

Here’s to the journey…

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. For which it was designed
  2. As “a life open to God”
  3. As a blessed (happy, spiritually prosperous, favored) man/woman of God
  4. Repentance = not only confessing our sin, but repenting and renouncing it

Cover photo creds: Yelp