Context: This post was inspired by a May 16 conversation with my dad prior to his Sunday AM message @ The Gate Community Church on May 19. Moving forward, any content centered on internal endurance (and/or a ‘Proverb outside of Proverbs’) will be categorized into this new series called ‘Proverbial Life’.
It’s a complicated theme in Scripture…
God, as love, authoring His will in the deepest still; the epitome of fellowship perfecting faith before it could create.
No question, the infinities of life are complex, sometimes intimidating; however, when we consider God at the beginning, we converge on a central truth:
We were made for connection (for love, with love, by love)…
…to pursue peace with all people1…
…and to be unity in community.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done in a day when relationships are compromised by busyness, striving, even insecurity. Perhaps you’ve encountered similar barriers wondering how to navigate around them.
If so, I want to encourage you with a Proverb that somehow found itself in Luke 21.
But before I dive in, allow me to uplift the down heart reading this…
- You are not alone. You are not here by accident. You are a treasure. You are an asset to an unshakable Kingdom. You are a chosen child of God. Just marinate in these identity statements a bit.
- If you’re not in the rhythm of daily dying2, staying the course in any situation will be challenging. An odd segue, I admit, but one I speak from wanting you, the reader, to surrender all trust in God knowing He understands your wants, needs, desires, and dreams better than you do.
- In writing this, I don’t want to downplay the struggle of connecting to those preserving their rhythms, content with you being on the outside looking in. I get it. If there’s one mountain in recent church testimony, it’s this. Still, even though the purest of intentions can become unyoked priorities, you can’t take on the wrong burdens even if you’re the only one who sees them.
Having said that, let’s dig into the Word…
“By your patience possess your souls.” ~ Luke 21:19 (NKJV)3 4
“By your endurance you will gain your lives.” ~ Luke 21:19 (ESV)
“By your [patient] endurance [empowered by the Holy Spirit] you will gain your souls.” ~ Luke 21:19 (AMP)
“Stand firm, and you will win life.” ~ Luke 21:19 (NIV)
“Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.” ~ Luke 21:19 (MSG)
As expected, wording varies upon translation, but the general concept is the same. When we reference this verse to Matthew 4 and note the heart of Jesus, we find the Son of Man walking in authority by the power of the Holy Spirit. Everywhere he went in this power, every time he returned in this power. Even when Jesus was tempted, Jesus was centered in his identity by…you guessed it…the power of the Holy Spirit.5
Often times, when we think power of the Holy Spirit, we think wonders and miracles, but for Jesus, the most frequent manifestation of the Spirit’s power in him was his reliance upon the Father to possess his emotions. A simple anecdote upon first glance, but one with significant applications when we consider Jesus was tempted in every way like we are today. This in mind, we can’t take lightly the vain thoughts we tolerate in place of deferred hope given the power of fear ultimately numbs us to the power of the Spirit.
Again, Jesus is the way we must model. To him, his ‘standing identity’ wasn’t mutually exclusive from his identity in God. He knew to walk in real authority, whether resisting the enemy or healing the sick, he had to possess his soul to keep it from ruling him. The more opportunities he had to cultivate endurance in this way, the more he walked confidently in his identity and the authority that overflowed.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting Jesus never asserted his authority as a self-evident right, but out of a posture of rest. This is key for us concerning spiritual warfare. To say Jesus asserted his authority out of rest means he didn’t contend for authority with the enemy; rather he exercised it knowing he was free from needing God to approve himself and defend his rights.
This, in turn, allowed his faith to flow from identity and empowered him not to be offended that his purpose was rooted in dying.
So in a weird sense, we should delight in the fact God tests us through relational voids6 given His heart is to refine our rest and trust in our ‘loved by God’ identity. Not to suggest every relational lack is a test from God. I’m just saying when we look at how Jesus lived and what He longs to develop within us, how can we not be grateful knowing our patience can mature as we master our inner man? How can we not be excited our ego-triggered fears can be subdued by the same power Jesus abided in?
Bottom line: Every day is an opportunity to die to self, receive God’s life, and discover our purpose through our ‘loved by God’ identity.
- Next time, you’re alone, remember Jesus was often alone…yet relied on the Father in those moments.
- Next time, you feel judged, remember Jesus was constantly misunderstood, even in praise…yet consistently ran to the source of his confidence.
- Next time, you feel drained, remember Jesus was tired on many occasions…yet knew the fruit he bore strengthened his perseverance.
- Next time you feel disconnected or discouraged, remember to rejoice as you suffer in steadfastness!
After all, God is always up to something special, something incredible beyond your comprehension. Just keep your eyes centered on the perfecter of your faith, surrender what you think should be present in your life, and stand firm regardless of how you feel…
…knowing no matter what happens…
…the Creator of your soul will be there to gain your souls.
- Hebrews 12:14 NKJV
- To the will of your flesh
- Putting NKJV first since I like the way this translation catches the Greek
- Patience in Hebrew refers to suffering in steadfastness
- So while there’s truth in viewing this verse as a bottom line for a well-disciplined life, the whole point is what connects standing firm to winning life…and that is the power of the Spirit.
- And conflicts
Cover photo creds: WallpaperUP
Have you ever struggled with group participation or felt more productive working independently?
Perhaps you’re a team player at heart, but feel taxed, even lost, when collaborating in a joint setting.
If so, I want to encourage you: a) you’re not alone and b) dare to rethink what you know about teamwork.
For while corporate success often hinges on team dynamic (i.e. how a group behaves and performs in pursuing a particular goal), such cooperation is only possible when each member knows the purpose and direction of their role.
Thus, in the next few posts, I want to discuss how we, as students and employees, can build teamwork through better team dynamic starting with these three points…
1) Clarify Expectations
It’s been said group morale is a fragile art – a sacred science based on strength integration, maintaining transparency, and trust management.
Yet, of all the bonds that bind, arguably none is more cohesive to team dynamic than clarifying expectations.
To quote Ron Edmondson…
“to feel a part of the team, people need to know where the team is going and what their role is. An understanding of the overall goals and objectives fuels energy. When the big picture objective is understood each team member is more willing to pull together to accomplish the mission because they know the ‘why’ and can better understand where they fit on the team.”
In other words, to achieve positive outcomes, each role must be clearly defined in a way direction, unity, and purpose are mutually inclusive. Of course, none of this can happen without accountability, authenticity, and strategy/tactics (as we’ll later discuss); however, as long as expectations are effectively communicated top-to-bottom, the foundation to success is, at least, secured.
Bottom line: The more people perceive core value and expectations1 through vision, the more team dynamic will strengthen.
2) Don’t Just Direct People, Develop Them
As mentioned in my ‘effective influencer’ post, strong teams form when people are valued over goals and success is celebrated corporately as well as individually.
Unfortunately, not all work cultures are created equal where motivation is shared, let alone contagious. The question is…
How do we inspire unity among our teams regardless of setting, situation, or position?
For starters, we must be willing to connect role to direction and expectation to vision. In my case, having worked in various financial and ministerial arenas, I’ve found the best unity occurs in environments where each member understands their role and how it directly impacts the success of the organization.
Granted, easier said than done for the sanitation engineer and mail deliverer; still, if strong team dynamics are applied, even these employees can be directed to know the company’s core values2 and developed to take ownership of their responsibility.
Ultimately, if team members are empowered to see their skin in the game, camaraderie will flourish in the sense each person is directed, developed, and driven to see his/her work as more than a means to an end.
Bottom line: Intentional leaders not only give their team intentional purpose, but help their teams understand mission while embracing vision.
3) Get Out of the Office
A great ministry leader once said…
“Don’t get so busy doing the work of the Lord that you don’t spend time with the Lord of the work.”
Interestingly, while this truth pertains to spiritual intimacy, the same concept can be applied in collaboration and networking. After all, if project management and people management are best undivided, then the quality of our communication should extend beyond performance into its surrounding context.
For example, as a former LAMPO spouse, sports editor, and youth pastor, no question, the best “silo-busting” moments occurred during retreats, corporate team-building activities, and family outings. In each scenario, not only were tensions lessened, but a sense of esprit de corps developed carrying over into seasons of challenge and discomfort.
Moreover, to the extent creativity and oasis conversations abounded, to that extent priorities were pruned in the wake of internal and external inventory. Ultimately, as awareness within community increased, so did morale and enthusiasm by proxy.
Bottom line: 1) Teamwork is just as much attitude as it is practice. 2) If you want better teamwork, know the context of your team’s performance given team dynamic is influenced just as much outside work as at work.
Looking ahead, I want to talk about how we, as spouses and household heads, can abide by the same teaming principles outside our careers and inside our homes.
In the meantime, be at peace as you better people to better your teams to better your business.
As always, Lys & I are rooting for you.
Here’s to the journey…
- Even compensation
- Tip: consider creating a team charter)
Cover photo creds: Australian Institute of Business
Since its inception, His Girl Fryday has served as a resource helping bivocational/ marketplace leaders mature their influence…and while our mission has always been to bridge sacred and secular, when it comes to absolute truth, ultimately we’re just as passionate outside our niche as within it.
Thus, as we tackle a hot topic in sexuality, understand this message has not only been internally simmering for years (having been ignited during last week’s Messenger Fellowship summit), but also represents one of my deepest pastoral regrets having rarely addressed it1 during my youth ministry tenure. Of course, much could be said in a testimonial setting; for now, let’s focus on how sexuality has been and should be addressed to effectively equip the emerging generation.
When it comes to modern day sexuality, no question we live in a unique time caught up in the crossfire of change. On one hand, we have church and culture experiencing seismic shifts in how intimacy and its abuse are perceived. On the other, we have integrity and cross-generational tension in how the Word is interpreted and behaviorally applied².
Yet, while the divide may seem like a slippery slope, how we close the gap is worth discussion given we all struggle (or have struggled) with sexual identity, temptation, compromise, or at the very least, our identity in Christ.
Take my case for example…
As a child of the ’90’s, I grew up in a time when intimacy was seen as forbidden fruit. Not only was sex not talked about outside ‘the birds and the bees’, but hardly anyone wanted to…apart from a few exceptions.
I remember during one 8th grade chapel, my school brought in a young Christian couple to share their “love story”, a PG-13 account of why they waited. Unfortunately, while their testimony captured the wonder of affection, it failed to connect sex to Scripture leaving many peers in a wake of armor-less intrigue.
A few months later, I invited a friend to summer camp during which the last guest speaker defined purity as avoiding promiscuity. But again, like the married couple, though the message conveyed the mystique of sex, the big picture only grew more convoluted, especially for those like me who had become skilled in evading Cosmopolitan without knowing why.
Enter the day my sophomore year when I discovered Victoria Secret in my parent’s mailbox.
Yes, I had learned not to go looking for lust; however, I hadn’t learned what to do when lust came looking for me. Factor in a freshman year marred by peer rejection and bullying and suddenly those scantily clad women were more than just tempting…they were void-filling.
And so began a decadal stretch where self-gratification and fantasy lust not only became on-and-off defaults to loneliness and self-loathing, but self-seeking manifests in romantic relationships3 (more on this in a future post). Thankfully, after years of denial and compromise, the Spirit would meet me in a point of surrender and reset my course.
But by then, the damage had been done. Despite the fact I was a new creation relearning grace, forgiveness, and perseverance in the midst of shame, insecurity, and depression, the weight of deferred awareness -what could have been had I just trashed the lingerie clippings instead of stashing them ten years earlier – bore heavily on my mind.
Not to mention all the ‘what if’s’…
…like what if someone had taught me the wrongs of self-gratification?
…what if someone had taught me the boundaries of intimacy in dating relationships?
…what if I had a mentor who connected taking thoughts captive to pornographic temptation?
…what if the message of sexuality in my youth had involved discovering God’s intent as opposed to guilting people from living outside it?
Maybe then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
But the reality is we are…because I believe God not only wants to reshape and ‘de-grey’ the way we teach sex, but purge our family lines of where it’s been abused. Like me, you may have wrestled with a checkered past, but this doesn’t mean God can’t use your fearless voice to stir implicit trust in places of explicit exposure.
The question is: are we willing to be entirely honest and sensitive when we need to?
For as long as sex is minimally approached and swept under the rug, we set our children up to learn the hard way; however, if we truly desire our youth to see sex through the fear of the Lord/their identity in Christ, if we truly long for them to be content in their singleness, and to understand the positives of purity, the rewards of repentance, and the repercussions of sexual sin4, only then will we set a foundation on which they can stand firm.
‘Til then, I submit the church refreshens her approach on teaching intimacy. To paraphrase John Piper…
…the problem with the church’s guide to sex education isn’t her instruction on walking in light, but her negligence in modeling a hatred of darkness.
As a result, youth are growing up aware sex has a time and place, like fire in a fireplace, but are far less aware of what to do when the chimney starts to crack or when the fire breaches the home. At some point, we must be willing to convey the fire of intimacy not only through the fatherheart of God, but in eager fashion as people unashamed of the Gospel and our testimony (Romans 1:15-16 AMP). Perhaps then will today’s young people know how to ‘house’ their sexuality where the fireplace was designed to be.
As for me, all I know is far too long I’ve been on my knees crying for help, but now that help has come…and in its wake…my heart yearns to see future generations know the warning signs that flare in the night and proceed against greed in light of the stronger, holy fire burning within5.
In closing, I encourage you, my friends, let’s be unified in advancing a more vulnerable talk on sex while praying generational healing into the roots of our family trees. After all, as great as the struggle or freedom we’re walking in, how much more glorious the triumph when we embrace the legacy of God’s highest?
- Granted, the effort was made multiple times; at least we got this far…
- Hence, why sexuality is such a challenging subject given its taboo label and sandpapery effect on identity/ego/security
- Specifically, the lie of ‘as long as it’s not intercourse, it’s okay’
- Including the various forms of pornography and self-gratification
- Yes, I have DC Talk’s ‘The Hardway’ in my head now; again, I’m a child of the ‘90’s 😉
Cover photo creds: Pond5, Called to be Free
Yet, while our mission is to provide tools for your influence, give value for your destiny, and find the balance between sacred and secular, our vision…the reason why we exist…is worth discussion.
For starters, we see you as significant…a Kingdom agent made to influence (whether in business, church/missions, or both) who, like us, need routine refreshers of truth and how they apply in challenging situations.
What do you do when an authority figure chews you out…
…or when a subordinate isn’t getting the job done?
How do we cope when a friend/colleague is stuck in sin…or when organic community constantly seems out of reach?
No question, there’s a whole lot of life to troubleshoot this side of heaven; however, while your worldview, your perception of reality, matters, it’s not until we apply a Kingdom grid to it that we begin to respond in a transformative way.
Thus, when it comes to why we exist…we exist to equip…to help you react/respond on God’s terms…whether it involves overcoming past mindsets and habit patterns or troubleshooting leadership/relationship issues.
‘Cause truth is: it’s one thing to know you’re significant, but it’s another thing to know who you are (i.e. a Kingdom agent) in the face of selfish tendencies and compromised philosophy.
What are ‘all these things’?
Backtrack to v. 35 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword?”
Essentially, Paul is saying nothing can shield us from God’s love. Yes, we can choose to turn our backs, but this doesn’t mean we’re out of God’s reach.
Therefore, because God is for us and has given everything necessary for goodness and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), we can take confidence in being more than a conqueror and extend it into our marketplace function1.
As for this resource…
…it’s not only our heart to see the church embrace what God is doing in the marketplace…
…but our passion, as de-compartmentalizing ambassadors on the frontlines and sidelines of whatever race you’re running, to inspire ‘walk and talk’ alignment and connection among the bivocational/marketplace body.
That is why we exist.
Stay tuned next time when I’ll dive into why we, as marketplace ministers, must see ourselves as agents of heaven on a rescue mission.
‘Til then, peace to the journey,
~ Cameron Fry
- Basically, building and extending this confidence answers ‘why we’re here’
Cover photo creds: Image Paper Safari