Thursday, April 28, 2016

Conquering Cynicism

I have a confession to make…and I’m not afraid to say it…
…I’m more cynical than I seem.

And it’s hard for me to admit, ya know? ‘Cause if you would have asked me 5, 7, 10 years ago…and asked me what I’m not…I probably would have said the same thing.

Cynicism.  

It’s one of the sneakiest strongholds in existence. It plagues us, it stirs us, it blinds us; however, it’s often overlooked.

Why is that?

Well, as one who can humbly testifry1 to its cunning, cynicism tends to burrow in the places where unbelief and pride intersect; hence, why it’s so easy for cynicism to go unnoticed since those afflicted tend to assign skepticism to unbelief and security to self-preservation.

But truth is: cynicism isn’t a tolerable form of doubt or healthy confidence, it’s not an exit strategy for our fears, distrust, and past pains…and it’s certainly not an ideal way to bridge relationships considering cynicism deems them unworthy (by way of shattered ideals - real or imagined).

Contrarily, cynicism is a poison greenhouse that takes any self-deterministic2 perspective on life, identity, and/or relationship and depresses it into the mire of idolatry.


Thus, for people like me looking to conquer cynicism3, it’s imperative we first come to terms with what cynicism is and isn’t…not only so we can better identify destructive thought patterns/ progressions, but also so we can break them and walk in the fullness of freedom (which for the record, can only exist when meek awareness has matured into established, righteous action).

Let’s look at a case study.

When disappointments surface, what’s our default response? Do we channel our inner ‘Taylor Swift’ and shake it off…or do we connect them to unreconciled wounds?

For if the decision falls on the latter, the bond of bitterness tightens its grip…and our fear of being judged and misunderstood becomes the governing authority; however, if all trust is cast onto the Lord at the onset, then our yieldedness to Him ultimately allows us to take such misalignments captive. 

I know, I know…easy said than done, right?                                                                              I feel ya.

Nevertheless, it’s vital we not only confess the truth, but accept it into the application fabric of our lives.

Otherwise, when our “cynicism trigger” goes off, we may risk nonsensical associations (like linking unfavorable outcomes in the present to stupid decisions made in distant past) being our barometer and compass instead of the infallible absolutes we’ve been divinely given.

Let’s look at another.

When a certain need isn’t being met, how do we cope? Do we confront the issue head-on? Or do we withdraw and “wall up”?

And note: by confronting, I’m not implying a verbal barrage of antagonistic talk as much as a pursuit of peace preservation and reconciliation (see Matthew 18:15-20).

‘Cause again, if we cater to a fear of discouragement as opposed to a ‘what good can be achieved’ mentality, we essentially tolerate the belief that people can’t possibly be as God intended. As a result, we create a near-impenetrable barrier between us and the people God has entrusted in our midst.

See how cynicism contradicts the work of God in our lives?

Bottom line: while I’m in the process of winning the war against cynicism, I can still vouch…

1. ...the crippling effects of cynicism (as cemented by a) the false belief that most people are content in their deception of ‘who I am’…and b) a deep desire wanting to prove people wrong)…
2. ...the progression from unrealized insecurity/fear à realized insecurity/fear à hurt à anger/bitterness à unforgiveness à inferiority à distrust à self-preservation...
3. ...the joy of reclaiming lost ground as experienced in #1 & #2

So if anyone out there can relate, whether you’re struggling not to fold hope...or simply having a hard time trusting people to believe what they should…then please understand God wants to free you from oppression…deliver you from depression…and lift you from suppression.

Trust me… I know it’s not easy, but when it comes to conquering cynicism, the healing we crave (whether we deny it or not) can only come if we choose to open up the closed doors in our hearts. 

In parting, I leave you with these Bible verses (see below). I encourage you to ‘selah’ on them as you press deeper into the Lord this week.

And as always, if you need a word, a prayer, an answer, I'm always here.

'Til then...

May His peace, His love, His favor overwhelm you to His highest...

~ Cameron
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” ~ Ephesians 1:16-22 (ESV)

“Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders.” ~ Psalm 119:18 (MSG)

Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. If you respond to my warning, then I will pour out my spirit on you and teach you my words.” ~ Proverbs 1:23 (ESV, HCSB)

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV)

Footnotes

1. Pun [definitely] intended
2. Self-deterministic = medicated doctrine centered on self-preservation and self-centered control tactics
3. Roll credits

Photo creds: addiezierman.com & onbeing.org (edited by Cameron Fry)

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Remembering 'Purple Rain'

So yesterday I’m looking out my office window, listening to the gentle pattering of some much needed rain, when I hear “Mr. Purple Rain”, "The Artist" known as Prince, has passed away.
 
At first, I’m thinking, ‘Oh no, who’s next?’ considering I’d just found out about Chyna a few hours earlier…and usually, when it rains ‘death news’, it pours in batches of three (Historically, has anyone else noticed this?).
 
Anywho, I know many, especially those “north” of Generation Y, are still grieving the loss on one of American music’s most game-changing (and flamboyant) cultural icons. So please note: I’m not here to pour salt on any melancholy wounds.

However, though I can’t personally relate to feelings of deep heaviness in wake of this particular tragedy (considering Prince’s content/beliefs have always clashed significantly with my Christ-following ambitions), not only can I still sympathize from an anthropologic perspective, but I can use that connection as a means to share about the hope in Christ I carry*.

‘Cause truth is: many people are thinking about mortality right now. After all, it’s a perfectly natural reaction in the light of historic loss. Yet, as tributes and mourning mounts, I can’t help but think about what God wants us to remember in these moments…
  • The fact He draws near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18)...
  • The fact we can cast our care upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)...
  • The fact He holds us as in the palm of His hand as engraved, our walls ever before Him (Isaiah 41:13, 49:16)…
I mean…when you think about it: there’s some serious security in God’s love for us…even in the down, despondent times.

And yeah…I know losing Prince isn’t the same as losing a “loved one”, but I figure since many are pulling out the tissues right now, it wouldn’t hurt to pull out some truth to go along with them.

So in short, while my sorrow may be limited, it doesn’t mean I can’t relate on some level…and it surely doesn’t mean I can’t reciprocate with encouraging sentiments that go way beyond the wishy-washy.

My advice: for those struggling with emotional hangovers today, be empowered to reprieve from the grief…and to my Christ-following friends, be available to be a source of that empowering, while pointing to the ultimate source along the way (*drops mic*).

Photo creds: vapemunki.com

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Prodigal's Wardrobe

So last week, I’m revisiting the prodigal son parable when it dawns on me:

Before there could be a party (v. 23), there had to be ‘fashion statement’ (v. 22)…because before the son could celebrate, he had to first know why he was being celebrated.

Not to suggest this was my first time visualizing the father decking his son with boughs of jolly; I’m just sayin’ in the past, I used to skim over this part as side detail.

The dad is happy his son is back; I get it,’ I’d think to myself.

But now, having marinated in this passage further, I can’t help but wonder if this excerpt is the most profound part of the entire story.

Because not does it highlight a daily reality of God’s father-heart of love, but it also emphasizes the progression of God’s ministry of reconciliation, which can be designated as:

1) God’s confirmation of our identity in Him --> 2) God’s admittance of ‘as we are’ in light of who we are in Him --> 3) God’s celebration of #1 + #2

You see…often times, we skip from #1 to #3 when reading the parable. We remember the father’s compassion (v. 20) and the party he throws (v. 23), yet we forget how the father loved on purpose in between as evidenced by his desire to adorn his son with specific garments…
  • …the robe representing a fresh outpouring of grace...
  • …the ring…a symbol of sonship and authority…
  • …the sandals…a charge for the son to walk afresh and anew (under both coverings)…
…pretty remarkable, right?

I mean…clearly, the father wasn’t content on just running to/embracing his son.




Was he overjoyed? Of course! Was he relieved? Absolutely.

However, as much as he wanted to welcome his son, he wanted even more so to initiate him back into a renewed sense of identity, place, and purpose.

Thus, it’s interesting when we pause and connect the parable to real life.

‘Cause truth is: we’re ALL prodigals. We’ve all stumbled into rough places…tough times. We’ve all had rude awakenings with our own depravity.

But when we apply the parable, we ultimately discover how the story doesn’t end with God forgiving us.

In fact…it’s only just begun!

Why? Because even in the wake of our setbacks, our Papa God never stops seeking a way to restore and re-establish us as heirs with an inheritance (Romans 8:17), as anointed children blessed with a destiny.

Not to mention...He always has a party invitation with your name on it secured in an envelope sealed with grace. And while you’re certainly not forced to open it, if you do decide to, you’ll not only find directions, but also info on how to get ready for it!

How freakin’ awesome is that?

So next time you’re tempted to mentally wallow with the pigs, remember God isn’t so easily satisfied to slap an “I forgive you” onto your wrongdoings, your past hurts and failures…and call it a day. No way!

Moreover, God wants to remind you…

…your identity is not lost...
…your place at the table is unclaimed…
…and oh, by the way, when you choose to change, heaven celebrates…and like a good neighbor, He’ll not only help you arrive at a better place, He’ll helps you stay there, too.

My encouragement to you is to claim the robe, the ring, and the sandals...put on the garments of praise (Isaiah 61:3)…and live knowing you’ve been fully reinstated into wholeness with God. It may not always be easy…there may be days when your self-perception seems hopelessly chained to dark, dreary memories, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a way to walk in your sonship!

For me, whenever I find myself in that taxing tug-of-war, I…
  • …confess I’ve been forgiven and set free…
  • …I declare my identity as a mighty man/son of God…
  • …and recommit my way unto the Lord. 
That way…I’m accepting and affirming God’s confirmation, admittance, and celebration of who I am…and ‘wallah’ God’s mission of reconciliation is complete in that moment.

Well, I’m out of words today. As always, if you need prayer, a word of encouragement, a dose of stimulating dialogue, I am here.

‘Til next time, stay thirsty, my friends…

~ Cameron

Photo creds: christiantoday.com & academiachurch.wordpress.com

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Rethinking "Bivocational"



For those who’ve been following us the past few years, you’ve probably noticed how I often branch “bivocational” into two camps: those who work multiple secular jobs and those with a gig in the ministerial arena1.
However…in recent months, I’ve begun to question if this approach best captures the contrast.
‘Cause truth is: we’re all ministering something…because we’re all worshipping something.
Or to put it another way…we’re ministering something because somehow, someway (whether we realize it or not) we’re being continually empowered to attend the needs of someone else…whether a co-worker, a boss, a family member, a friend, a loved one, etc.
Now, before I continue, let me clarify this one point: when I say ‘ministerial arena’…I am (more often than not) talking about those who provide full-time or part-time service under the occupational ministry umbrella, but this doesn’t mean I believe other umbrellas are inferior.
Contrarily, I view all callings as unique given what God creates, assigns, and rations is infallible (Galatians 3:28, Genesis 1:27, Acts 10:34). So while the majority of what we discuss may naturally gear itself to those with one foot in a more ecclesiastical door, that doesn’t mean you fail if your feet find themselves on a different foundation2.
You see…I think far too often those in the church, those in ministry tend to pump up their own cause through the mission God has called them to…
…which, to me, represents one of the greatest tragedies not talked about in forums like this.
And while I’m not insecure about people taking prior His Girl Fryday blogs out of context, I still wanted to take time on this beautiful Monday afternoon to autocorrect how I breach bivocational topics in the now…and then.
All that to say…moving forward, when I mention “bivocational”, please know I’m referring to all Jesus-followers as ministers under the covering of 1 Corinthians 4:1-7, 2 Corinthians 3:6, and 2 Corinthians 6:4.
‘Cause when we put them together, we discover…
  • Every Christian is a servant in ministry.
  • Whether we’re consultants, salesman, doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, teachers, journalists, designers…whether we’re a combo platter of diverse professionals and/or have liturgical responsibilities…God has made us sufficient to be ministers of life through His Spirit.
  • By our effort and endurance, we can demonstrate the power of God operating in and through us by reflecting His heart of love, purity, patience, kindness to the lost/broken/backslidden, etc.

So when you think about it, getting caught up in ranking standards with a “This person has more weight because ‘this’…’ …or “That person has it easy because ‘this’…’ attitude makes no sense ‘cause the reality is we all have a calling and a purpose for such a time as this...
...not to mention...
sponsored-post-quote
For me, the real question comes back to: are we being faithful to walk what God has called us to walk…and are we going to do so with an appreciation for the diversity by which God has fashioned us? 
I’ll just let the mic drop there. ;)
So hopefully this ties up some loose ends. If not, feel free to shoot us a comment below...or drop us a personal message if you prefer the confidential route.
At any rate, we’d love to hear from you. ‘Til then, be strengthened, encouraged, and challenged to live as Christ.
Know we’re with you every step of the way.
Footnotes
  1. A fair angle when looking to simplify
  2. After all, we live and grow in stride…and in seasons. Where God has you today may look totally different tomorrow.
Photo creds: challies.com & recyclingchristiandollars.com

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