”There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18, NASB)
I have read this passage numerous times, but I have only recently discovered how radically liberating this reality actually is. Fear cannot stand in the face of a revelation of perfect love. Jesus Christ is the personification of perfect love. As we are awakened to a greater and greater revelation of Jesus Christ, fear evaporates completely. Although fear is the great slave master of humanity, the more we experientially ‘know’ the truth (Christ), the more free we will be.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a brother in Christ over coffee to catch up. What he shared with me changed my life. I literally sensed the chains fall off as our conversation progressed. I knew then that I had to share our conversation with you. It simply would be an injustice to keep this to myself. As a result, I asked my friend to come on the blog today to be interviewed about what he shared with me that day. He graciously agreed. So without further ado, let me introduce to you today’s guest.
I’m thrilled to introduce Brady Toops to you today. In addition to being a talented singer / songwriter, Brady is also an inspired thinker (as you can see from his contemplative picture). I have found Brady to be one of those rare individuals who carry a profound revelation of Christ. This revelation of Christ (perfect love) has caused Brady to make some incredible resolutions for 2013. Because of the impact that Brady’s resolutions had on me when I heard them, I have asked Brady a few questions about these resolutions. My heart is that you would consider how liberating these resolutions could be for your own life. I will then conclude this interview by introducing you to a sample of Brady’s music.
- Brady, thank you very much for coming on the blog today. I have heard a lot of New Year Resolutions, but I have never heard anything like the ones you shared with me. What triggered you to write down these resolutions in the first place?
As the clock struck midnight and 2012 shifted into 2013, I began to think about how I would approach this new year and what resolutions or goals I might pursue. Without much clarity I began contemplating the idea while exploring a few books, blogs, and interviews. At the end of a particular interview, Jeff Goins asked fellow blogger and author, Seth Godin, the proverbial “what do we do now” question. His reply struck me, “Just do one thing. Write down what you’re afraid of.” I thought to myself, “Well that’s pointless/stupid. Why would I ever do that?” Then I grabbed a pen and on the nearest piece of paper wrote this:
I am afraid of:
2. Running out of money
I don’t know how to describe what happened next. As I confessed it, something so beautifully liberating occurred in my heart. I didn’t talk to a counselor or pray through layers of inner healing. I didn’t call up my five closest friends or an accountability partner. I just admitted what I was afraid of and stared at it, and stared. In the simplest way possible, I felt free-er. After contemplating what had just happened, I penned 4 simple goals or resolutions to pursue in 2013 from that one moment of inspiration.
1. Do Nothing Based On The Fear Of Rejection or Running Out Of Money
2. To Create & Imagine More Than Ever
3. To Invest Deeply In Brotherhood Relationships
4. To Live Un-Offended
- Your first resolution to “Never do anything based on the fear of rejection or running out of money” stunned me. As soon as you said this, I realized that a lot of the conversations that I have or don’t have, a lot of the people that I pursue or not pursue, and a lot of decisions that I make or not make, are based on the fear of rejection or running out of money. The fear of rejection & running out of money is a reality that many of us are held captive by. Brady, can you describe why you made this a resolution and how practically this resolution is setting you free in specific areas?
I hate conflict. And I hate it bad. My solution to dealing with conflict most of my life has been to avoid any and every feeling of discomfort. If discomfort occurred by addressing certain topics of conversation, telling my true feelings, disagreeing with another’s course of action, or even talking to an unusually attractive girl in public, I would avoid it like the plague. My coping mechanisms included diverting conversations into more desirable themes, shutting down my heart, and even agreeing with people’s comments while completely disagreeing with them in my heart. My sole goal was no conflict and no discomfort. Somehow, this felt unhealthy. More than being unhealthy, I was tired of less fulfilling relationships, feeling misunderstood, friends making poor choices, and maybe most of all not conversing with any pretty ladies. What I convinced myself was wisdom and prudence, actually revealed itself to be excessive insecurity management.
An excerpt I read in the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki, also recently explained and inspired the thought process behind the second half of this resolution. The “Rich Dad” in the book is offering advice to a young 9-year-old boy who wants to know how to become rich. His motivation to become rich centers around the insecurity of his family having less money than that of his fellow classmate’s families at school, as displayed by their continual supply of new clothes, sporting equipment, etc. The “Rich Dad” explains, “Most people have a price. And they have a price because of human emotions named fear and greed. First, the fear of being without money motivates us to work hard, and then once we get that paycheck, greed or desire starts us thinking about all the wonderful things money can buy. The pattern is then set.”
He goes on to explain that most of his employees feel a fear of not having enough money, but that they never actually confront that fear logically. They only react to it emotionally, trapped in a cycle they don’t even realize they’re in. The “Rich Dad” then explains, “Emotions are what make us human… (But the answer is to) Just be an observer, not a reactor to your emotions. (For) Most people do not know that it’s their emotions that are doing the thinking.”
I was cut to the heart. I began to realize that one of my 2012 resolutions of saving (X) amount of dollars by the end of the year, though in the minds of many looked noble and responsible, in my heart was based upon the fear of lack. I thought if I could store a significant amount of cash, I’d no longer be afraid of running out of it. I was wrong. Welcome to reality.
- Brady, your second resolution to “Create & imagine more than ever” is beautiful. In your opinion, how does fear inhibit the creative process?
Last year, I approached this resolution in a self-disciplined sort of attack (a.k.a read a book/month). That didn’t motivate me in the slightest. Most of last year, I felt as if I spent my time nose to the grindstone, working, paying bills, and saving money. The problem was, I realized that in this mode of existence, also called “survival mode”, I had no time to dream, create, and explore.
My fear of lack dictated most all my decisions and limited the very skill my singer/songwriter career is built upon, the ability to create. What I also realized in my few moments of clarity is that life as a whole is an art, the art of doing life. The only limitations on this art are contained in one’s inability to dream and imagine. Many seemingly small, artistic acts in the present produce our future reality whether that takes place sitting behind a desk, flipping burgers, or painting murals. Everyone has the ability to be as non-boring as possible. In the words of Brian David Johnson (Intel’s futurist), “We all own the future and have the power to shape it by creating a vision of the world we want.”
“Art isn’t a result; it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul.” -Seth Godin
- Your third resolution “To invest in brotherhood relationships” is inspiring to me in regards to the journey that I have been on. Being immersed in a ‘band of brothers’, so to speak, has been a vital part of the New Testament community that I am a part of. Why have you made this a personal resolution this year?
This one came about after many conversations with a few friends, fathers, and strangers. The depth and expanse of those conversations gave me vision for the joys of brotherhood, as well as lessened the fears of being fully known. I, like many, was tired of being misunderstood.
In a conversation with my dad, I was puzzled why so many men in his generation seemed to have no true and long-lasting friendships with other men outside of immediate family and relatives. They seemed to be isolated, engrossed in their careers, and intently focused on providing. My dad said to me, “That wasn’t the focus of the baby-boomer generation. We were taught by our parents, most of whom came out of the “World War II” generation, to find a good career, work hard at it, and support your family.”
Because of this, I have personally reaped the benefits of being born into an amazing family with hard working, devoted parents set on seeing their children’s dreams come to pass. But the thing that unsettled me was the idea of having no deep, male friendships in ten or twenty years. With this in mind, I began to intentionally invest in facilitating and developing those friendships. In my limited time on this journey, I’ve found myself continually inspired and re-inspired by the hearts and lives of these men. They provoke me to greatness, they believe in me, and they remind me who I am and who I am called to be when I forget it.
“A true friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” -Unknown
- Brady, if I’m being honest, your fourth resolution to “Live life un-offended” blessed & unnerved me the most. It is one of the most impactful things that I have ever heard. Honestly, a lot of people and situations throughout my life have offended me. I have unknowingly been carrying offense around with me for most of my life. Living with ‘offense’ is like continually sipping on poison. When I heard you mention this resolution to live life “un-offended”, it was as if the Lord took a spotlight and illuminated a lot of those offenses to me. The possibility of living life ‘un-offended’ is exhilarating! What prompted you to make this a resolution? How is it affecting you?
This may be the most daunting one of all. There’s a beautiful passage of Scripture in the Gospels where John the Baptist sends two of disciples to ask Jesus if He is “the Coming One or if they should look for another.” Jesus then describes a number of the prophecies being fulfilled concerning the Messiah through his current ministry. At the end of his short reply he lays out the mysterious phrase, “And blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” (Matthew 11:6) I was intrigued by the word “blessed” in this passage, so I looked into it. The correlating Greek word, “makários”, is not only translated as happy, but also implies one who fortunately positions himself to receive favor, blessings, and the grace bestowed upon him from God. That sounds like a pretty good thing.
The other passage that inspired this line of thought came one morning when I was reading through the end of Ecclesiastes. A quick confession: I love Solomon’s writings, all of them. In his discourse he says, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)
I was intrigued about that word “sorrow” in this passage and also proceeded to look it up. The Hebrew word “כָּ֫עַס”, or ka’ac (kah‘-as), was defined with words like anger, grief, vexation, frustration, and accusation. It sounded very similar to the feelings that result from offense, and according to Solomon, these should be removed from our heart. I found it very difficult to laugh and walk in offense at the same time, and who in their right mind doesn’t love to laugh? In this light I’ve resolved to forgive quickly and often in 2013.
- What have you discovered in the midst of pursuing these resolutions so far in 2013?
Well, in conclusion, here are a few small things I’ve learned in the last week or two of embracing these resolutions.
1. A fear based pursuit of God, or anything for that matter, only lasts as long as your ability to cultivate and believe that fear. Yet fear is only an illusion of reality.
2. To create and to imagine is to be like God.
3. The spoken word has considerably less influence to inspire me these days, but the journeys of friends, considerably more.
4. Life is better lived and laughed.
I pray 2013, is a year you live free from fear, amongst brothers, un-offended, and escorted into the most possibility and creative freedom imaginable.
Brady, thanks so much for taking the time to share your heart. Because of the fullness of this Christ who fully dwells within our spirit, these resolutions you have shared with us can become our present tense reality. I am confident that many will be liberated by what you have shared here today.
I’d like to encourage you to check out some of Brady’s music. The revelation of Christ that comes through Brady’s music will be a blessing to you. Here is a video that will give you a small taste of Brady’s work. Take a look:
Let me encourage you to visit Brady’s website where you can find out more about him, as well as download some free music that he has made available there: www.bradytoops.com
Awakening to His perfect love,