Rise and Shine: The Secret to Giving Your Best

Inspired by vintage Keith Green…

Many of us have heard the phrase, ‘Do your best and let God do the rest’.

But lately, I’ve been wondering how well I truly understand this.

I mean I ‘get’ the Bible verses…

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” ~ Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” ~ Galatians 6:5 (MSG)

…yet somehow in the application, I’ve been missing something. And I think I’m starting to see what it is.

You see, we often approach work as a derivative of ‘doing’ be it a project we initiate or a means to manage. Define the goal and pursue it. Clarify the objective and go for it. In a way, this makes sense given we’re all hard-wired to perform with excellence for excellence.

However, while execution and effort have their place, it’s important, dare I say critical we ask ourselves: At what point are we allowing God into the picture? Into the frame-work of our work if you will?

At the point we’re exhausted? At the point we’re confused? At the point we’re doubting?

Or are we making way His way from the very beginning?

As one who has failed time and time again with this, trust me when I say…

1. If you want to do your best, let God get in front of it.
2. If you want God to do the rest, let Him get behind it.

Don’t wait until you’re burnt out. Don’t wait until you’re stuck. Rather before you clock in each day, consecrate your effort, receive His faithfulness, and know He will accomplish His purposes in you. Even if He’s guiding you into turbulence, into danger, know He’s calling you to see Him in the midst of it in a fresh way. Accordingly, don’t be discouraged by growing pains when in reality He’s sowing gains you can’t yet see.

In closing, I encourage you, friends…

1. Let God be in the midst of your best and rest, not the middle.

2. Examine any place you may be relegating God to an on-call substitute, any place where ‘doing the rest’ has become a request to autocorrect above anything else.

Let Him be more and go before!

Selah.

90999706_10101462382580722_8801131594371825664_n

Cover creds: The Youthing Magazine

 

Kingdom Agents: The Difference Between Gifts, Functions and Vocations (Part 2)

So last week, we laid some groundwork on spiritual gifts and vocations, examining our priesthood in a professional light. As for today, I want to apply some gridwork with respect to our influencing identity. 

To do this, we need to accept a few core truths about God and how He’s created us:

  1. We are all designers, developers, and/or managers¹ (grid #1).
  2. The reason for this validates the existence of the Trinity (grid #2).
  3. The reason for this confirms our receipt of ascension (i.e. apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, elder, deacon) gifts.
  4. Each ascension gift (Ephesians 4) has a corollary designer/developer/manager counterpart.

Let’s break this down further by matching Grid 1 to points 3-4…

Grid 1

  • Designer (God the Father)
  • Designer/Developer
  • Developer/Designer
  • Developer (God the Son)
  • Developer/Manager
  • Manager/Developer
  • Manager (God the Holy Spirit)

Combined with Ephesians 4…

  • Designer – __Apostle__
  • Designer/Developer – __Prophet__
  • Developer/Designer – __Evangelist__
  • Developer – __Teacher__
  • Developer/Manager – __Pastor__
  • Manager/Developer – __Elder__
  • Manager – __Deacon__

A few quick points/reminders before I continue…

  1. The goal of this series is to help you discover your unique intelligence and giftings within your vocation.
  2. These lists apply to everyone, not just the ‘spiritually elite’.
  3. To simply comparisons, we are going to add ‘elders’ and ‘deacons’ to the ascension gift pastoral cluster so we can match 7 gifts with 7 functions.
  4. While Grid 1 represents the three principle leadership styles, no question there are many more subcomponents worthy of discussion. Perhaps I’ll unpack some of them later on; for now, let’s focus on these filters and proceed.
  5. Concerning the Trinity, the designer, developer, and manager roles imply core function, not sole function. While each member has a primary role (be it governing, stewarding or convicting), this doesn’t mean secondary modes of service are neglected.

Having said all that…let’s take our accountant friend from ‘part 1‘. While he may equip through an apostolic anointing particularly in his vocation, there may be times he imparts as a prophet and/or evangelist¹. Why? Because while the core of his apostolic function is to bring vision and direction to people², the purpose of his function is to call forth destiny.

As such, it’s important we make a critical distinction before digging deeper…

While your leadership profile may default to a particular ranking, your leadership isn’t contained to it.

Like many behavior assessments, one’s approach to giftings and function should not be fixed within a vacuum but should be fluid within an established rhythm. After all, God creates order but isn’t subjected to it.

For instance, as we’ll go through in ‘part 3’, you may possess an elder/deacon or deacon/pastor vocational profile but may find yourself in a prophetic moment during a counseling session. In this situation, you may feel uncomfortable operating outside your ‘gift wheelhouse’; however, ask yourself what’s more important: Being Spirit-led or strength-driven? 

giphy

As Scripture confirms, whatever your strengths are, they should never be what leads you or what you rely on.

“The Lord is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” ~ Exodus 15:2 (ESV)

“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 (ESV)

The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Whoever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.”  ~ 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 (MSG)

As the Psalmist declares, God gives strength for strength…because He is our strength. Accordingly, we can be certain what He provides whether gift, function or vocation follows a similar line. Like strength, the reason we don’t have to worry about work being our identity is because the Lord is our source of identity. From the beginning of time, we were called with a progression to profession, with an occupational heritage by which to bless people. Why not accept the fact God is not only in what He appoints but is what He appoints as well?

As you journey this week, remember you are part of a royal priesthood maturing towards a promised land. Even if you feel you’re working in a desert or wilderness, remember you can embrace strength and intimacy with God through weakness. You can take hold of His sustenance through the marketplace manna He provides. And you can press on as walls of territorialism dissolve into radical equality…all because you know a) You’re loved by God and b) The reason we’re diverse in function/co-equal in value is so we can participate in God’s goodness while uniquely showcasing His glory throughout the earth.

Selah.

Looking ahead to next time, I’ll finally debut the 7 vocational profiles (apostle, evangelist, prophet, pastor, teacher, elder, deacon). ‘Til then, you got this and we’re here for you rooting you on.

Peace…

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. Among other ascension gift possibilities
  2. Especially in his place of profession
Cover photo creds: GOBankingRates

Kingdom Agents: The Difference Between Gifts, Functions and Vocations (Part 1)

When I say ‘vocation’, what immediately comes to mind?

The 9-5 grind, the hustle and bustle, doing anything and everything to make ends meet?

If so, you’re not alone. After all, the world loves to condition us to view work as a ‘got to’, not a ‘get to’.

Yet, as I was reminded over the weekend, our marketplace vocation goes far beyond immediacy, intellect, and [our sense of] importance. Even though the nature of our jobs may require these elements, the aim of our jobs…the aim of our calling…is to serve as a royal priesthood, as Kingdom agents functioning in personal commission.

The question is: What does this look like and how does this happen?

tenor

For starters, it’s imperative we understand the difference not only between call and vocation but gifts and function.

To do this, let’s recap the spiritual gifts as outlined in the New Testament:

*Jesus gifts (Ephesians 4:1-3) – These are part of our vocation and include ascension and equipping gifts as well as the fivefold spiritual gifts (i.e. apostle, pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet).

Note: While all are wired to shape influence, not all are wired to employ these gifts in the church/in these specific occupations. More on this in a sec.

*Spirit’s gifts (1 Corinthians 12) – These belong to the Spirit and are gifts in a gathering. Some examples include administration, discernment, wisdom, healing, and miracles.

* Community gifts (Romans 4:4, 12:4-8) – These help us function in a local body. Some examples including leadership, encouragement, service, and mercy.

list-of-spiritual-gifts

Due to word count, I’ll link these passages rather than copy/paste; however, after you read them, consider their Greek roots:

1. Romans 12:4-5 – The word for function is the Greek word ‘praxis’ meaning “practice function” and signifies continual activity.

2. Romans 12:6-8 – The word for gifts is the Greek word ‘charismata’ meaning “grace function” and signifies communal activity. In the workplace, we can know these functions as influencing functions.

In both these cases, it’s important to note the origin of gifts point to corporate functions created for unity, not individual skills and talents.

3. Ephesians 4:1-3 – The word for vocation is the Greek word ‘klesis’ meaning “calling function” and signifies the work in which a person is employed. This not only references our occupation but our acceptance of it as a divine call to a particular pathway/course of action.

In this case, it’s critical we know how vocation and calling work together. As Martin Luther once said, “Every person is capable of having a vocation”; however, our universal calling is to be a royal priesthood.

Accordingly, we can break this down as follows:

Our universal calling: Priest (1 Peter 2:9)
Our gifts and functions: Romans 12:4-8
Our vocation: Romans 12 filtered through Ephesians 4


I like how Timothy Williams, author of The Spiritual Gifts, captures the vocational aspect of our spiritual gifts: While we know there are 5 ascension gifts and 7 community gifts,  it’s important to note “each ascension gift has a corresponding functional gift.” For instance, a certain accountant may not be called to serve as a prophet in a ministry setting (i.e. a liturgically designed ascension gift); however, he can still employ prophetic insight through encouragement and counsel in financial arenas (i.e. a vocationally designed ascension gift with specific communal functions). Of course, there may be times the accountant imparts guidance for church staff in critical situations. But the bottom line is: The man of God is at peace serving the body as a financial advisor with a prophetic anointing as opposed to a prophet with financial skills. 

Before I continue, I want to share a couple quick points on ‘vocation’ and how we’re to perceive it in light of our identity:

1. Gifts and vocations are NOT meant to soothe your ego or confirm your identity. If you base ‘who you are’ by ‘what you’ve been given’, you’ll reinforce territorialism in place of influence. Don’t do it!

2. Gifts and vocations are meant to enhance a sense of intimacy. If you base ‘what you’ve been given’ by ‘who you are’, you’ll reinforce a radical dependence on God and radical equality in how you view authority and hierarchy.

3. If we see ourselves as ‘Kingdom agents’, then we’ll a) desire to use our vocation to emphasize the work cultures that already point to Jesus (i.e. redeem our work environment) and b) seek to give clients and colleagues a taste of God by ‘calling forth their destinies’ (i.e. restore people).

4. If we don’t see ourselves as ‘Kingdom agents’, not only will we risk compartmentalizing our sacred and secular lives, but we will also miss opportunities to help people discern spiritual things with their natural minds.

5. Remember we’re all co-equal in value, diverse in function. Therefore, let’s engage our vocation as a holy partnership in influencing people to discover the fruit of their work/organization and in speaking restoration to people without agenda.

Looking ahead to ‘part 2’, I want to revisit William’s quote to help bridge the gap between Ephesians 4 and Romans 12.

‘Cause truth is: If we’re to better understand the relationship between gift and function within our vocation, we’ll need to apply additional grids and principles.

*Cough, Jethro. Cough, perichoresis. Cough*

Additionally, we’ll also need to add ‘elders’ and ‘deacons’ to the pastoral cluster so we can match 7 gifts with 7 functions. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now, I hope you were able to glean something out of this introduction. If you have any thoughts or questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me at your convenience.

Until then, God speed on your week. May His sweet presence be fresh wind in your sails as you press into His goodness.

You got this!

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Fast Company; body graphic creds: Msinop; content written by Cameron & Steve Fry; audio voiced by Steve Fry at the 2020 Commission U Leadership Retreat on February 29, 2020

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2019

**Scroll down for our HGF 2019 reflection pod**

When you think back on 2019, what immediately comes to mind?

CF: There are three answers to this question: The first and most obvious is Milo. His arrival into the world, no question, was the highlight of the year. The second and not as obvious is the phrase, “finished strong“. Granted, this was part of my 2017 answer, but it’s arguably been more applicable this year. Last but not least is the phrase, “hope realized“. As my next post will attest, I can’t recall a year where I felt so spiritually buoyant amidst great uncertainty.

LF: On the surface, one would think everything that happened this year involved situations I’d already experienced. But under the surface, everything that could wrong did go wrong, be it pregnancy, work, ministry, etc. That’s just how the year feels at first glance. Glass-half full, I’d say everything that could be different was different in 2019. The need for grace and deeper trust has rarely been so high from what I can recall.

What were some of the highlights/defining moments?

CF: Apart from Milo, I’d say our anniversary/missions trip to France, starting a TDOT Bible study, getting ordained with Messenger Fellowship, and the transition to Foundation Group round up the top four. Come to think of it, it’s crazy how my former employer fits into half these spots, but this only testifies to God’s brilliant and timely plan. Also, while this fall featured one of the more turbulent stretches we’ve known, the way we came out of it…I’d say was defining for our family as a whole.

LF: France, definitely. Losing two clients due to their need for in-house support. A very challenging pregnancy that impacted every area of life. Frankly, there were many defining moments this year, but most of them were taxing, testing, or both. Quite the opposite from last year.

How would you compare this year of marriage to years prior?

CF: From the onset, I sensed a leap not only in my understanding of intimacy but my appreciation of the little things. Call it a serendipitous surge, I feel 2019 has been our best start-to-finish year from what we were able to grow and persevere through. Obviously, as a newly crowned family of five, quality time and discussion are limited so expectations have to adjust. But this is offset knowing we’re pouring more into our co-workers, clients, and the kids under our care.

LF: This year had some of its sweetest moments for sure, some hard, some adventurous. Really a little bit of everything. All in all, the more life has put on us, the more refreshing the teaming has been despite its twists and turns. Blows my mind we’re almost to seven years already!

What lesson from 2019 are you eager to apply in 2020?

CF: God not only gives us everything we need for goodness and godliness but faith and fearlessness. As I used to tell LEGACYouth, when you abide in Christ, the way to ‘yes’ becomes clear even if the way out isn’t. This is especially true in the midst of great pain or confusion. We may be blindsided by disappointment, but trusting God books our next appointment.

Also, this is more awareness than lesson, but 2019 really exposed the fact I’d rather serve God than be close to Him. My halftime reflection piece unpacks some of this further…

LF: Resting in my weakness and learning not to strive. I had to learn these lessons the hard way this year, but I’m excited to build off them next year. I guess anytime you find yourself wanting to acknowledge weakness in a ‘You got this, God, I don’t‘ sort of way, good things will happen. One more reason to be flex and flow when things don’t go how you want them to go.

savingPNG

What has surprised you the most?

CF: In few words, the setting of adversity. While it’s no surprise the year had its ups and downs, the places we found support and the places we didn’t were far and away the biggest shock to me. We’ll see how much shaking we experience as a family in 2020. For now, it’s nice to know the two places I spend the most time are places I love to be.

LF: In general, I agree. Perhaps not to that extent, but I see where you’re coming from. I’d also add there were many answered prayers this year, but it’s hard to classify them as surprises when all is said and done.

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

CF: “Hello, Davidson county!“, “You have questions about the Charleston Principles? Yes, I can help with that!“, “Welcome, Cameron and Lyssah. We’ve been expecting you.”
Continue reading

High Priest in a Manger: The Nativity As Seen Through Hebrews 4

‘Tis the season to be jolly…

…or so they say.

To exalt why we exist, to know freedom abundantly…

…yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before.

But if you’re like me these days…drained, disoriented…wondering when and where you are…unsure of most things status and standing…lend an ear.

‘Cause while I don’t have all the answers, I’m also not one to hide what I find. Even if it means going back to certain wells time and time again.

That said, a few weeks ago, I was glancing through Hebrews 4 when it hit me: While verses 14-16 are often attributed to genealogy and lordship, they also hold value in light of Christmas.

Don’t believe me? Well, let’s read together…

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Upon first look, it’s fair to say there’s not much Bethlehem and Messianic prophesy referenced in this passage. Granted, one could say the “great high priest” achieves the latter, but either way, odds are you’re not thinking Luke 2 when reading Hebrews 4.

However, when we take a deeper dive, we begin to see the significance of what “great high priest” means for us today. For instance, after emphasizing Christ as Word and the trust/rest dynamic in v. 14, note the critical turn in v. 15. As the Message translates, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.” Rather, He is able to understand our weaknesses and temptations because He not only conquered them but experienced them!

giphy

From here, we begin to see how this passage pertains to Christmas. Before the Son of God could bear our sin in His body, the Son of Man had to be born into it. Before He could redeem us from the curse of the law, He had to establish His plan of grace. Before He could save us through the Cross, He had to love us through the manger. You get the picture.

Yet, even before the manger, Christ had to be our high priest relating to us before the beginning of time. In this way, His sovereign authority could craft a divine pathway for our eternal relationship and our fearless approach beforehand. After all, nothing takes God by surprise.

Of course, the theological layers run deeper, but for now, consider this. When we celebrate Christmas each year, we’re essentially saying…

… “Lord, I’m taking hold of your mercy, I’m entering your rest, I’m accepting your help, I’m renewing my mind…all because you loved us to know our flesh as flesh. And from that relatability, I can receive you in confidence as the center of my ability, humility, stability, tranquility, etc.

I love how the Amplified breaks this down…

Therefore, let us with privilege approach the throne of God’s gracious favor with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy AND find His amazing grace to help in time of need…an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment.”

Ahhh, at the right moment. Isn’t that what we’re always searching for? The right time, a right moment, the right one, even? And yet, so often we miss the fact Jesus is all these things. A perpetual reality punctuated by the incarnation, Jesus was our hope as a high priest before He became hope as a baby. Now we can live with Him in heaven forever all because once upon a time, a hope once deferred became the hope we cling to today.

Accordingly, for all you in despair, in a rut…a funk, whatever it may be, know this: Jesus came at the right moment so He could intervene for you at the right moments. Past, present, future…He never stops being a shining light of David directing our hearts to where His rest lies. As Paul states in Ephesians 2:14, “He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” All the more so, His light could enter, penetrate the darkness, and shatter the mold.

And so…as we wrap up another year, my prayer is that you’ll embrace this season and boldly enter into God’s best, His rest, and His next. For when you see the Cross behind the manger, you understand Christmas; however, when you see the priest in the manger, you’ll know the courage that can be yours as you invite into your weakness. How awesome it is to know Christ made Himself vulnerable so we could be vulnerable back? Not to mention with each other as we share the good news of His love in all we say and do.

Selah.

‘Til next time, may you know the hope that is yours and the breakthrough that will be yours this Christmas season.

Love you guys…

~ Cameron

79347731_10101376553512862_7564821732050075648_n

CourageousHarmlessCollardlizard-size_restricted.gif
Cover photo creds: Renovare