Now Where Do I Begin?

There is a saying in the culture that life begins at 40.

My initial reaction to that was, obviously no one was paying attention to what had been going on in the previous 39 years. Getting over that reaction, I then moved on to consider the question: if that is the case, where do I begin?

Well there’s no better place to begin that with praise and thanksgiving.

I have made it to the age where life apparently begins, but now I consider the previous 39 years and I am so grateful. Grateful for the faithfulness and goodness of God expressed all over my life. I am grateful for His goodness when I patently did not deserve it. I am grateful for a brilliant family – both those in my household now and the household of my parents when I was growing under their care. I am grateful for the extended family who may not share the same surname, ethnicity or even support the same football team but they have nevertheless been vital parts of family for me over the years.

I am extremely grateful for the gifts and abilities that have been given to me that I have been able to apply at points in my life. To be able to be a vehicle to transport the positive things I have been able to carry across in my time on earth thus far has been an enormous privilege.I am also very grateful to have observed some brilliant people at work and doing life and learning much from them. Life is better done together for sure and seeing this work itself out in small settings through men and women being transparent about the joys and pains of life have left a distinct mark in my life.

All good things that I have experienced have come from God. I love Him so much and I want to grow in living Him. My desire is to be pleasing to Him and reflect that in loving relationships. Recognising being a member, a minister, a messenger and a missionary is just the start of getting on with sharing the love. I do want to share that love and see others likewise desire to grow and know the Lord Jesus Christ.

He has done so much for me, it’s the best place to begin in any endeavour of life.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Missionary

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a missionary from and for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus hardly spoke about anything else. His entire life was about the mission – He was very clear about it.. He declared it, He demonstrated it. His call was for anyone following Him to also be about the mission of declaring and demonstrating just what the rule of God on the earth looks like.

For some time in the church circles that I grew up in, the focus was about being saved. Being saved was seen as a one off moment and once the line was crossed to ‘be saved’ there was the matter of living up to the morality of the church. A lot of it tended to be a bit defensive. There was a kind of reluctance to get engaged with the world and more of a desire to stick to our own to maintain the purity of our beliefs. Surprisingly very little was talked about the Kingdom of God. Likewise there was little indication that following Christ meant getting involved in the same mission as He was.

In a way it can appear rather appealing. You make a decision, you’re now in the club, you just got to keep yourself in the club and watch yourself from going out of the club and patiently wait as the inevitable end approaches and then you can leave all this behind. It’s a life with little in the way of much hassle. It’s just not the life that Jesus calls His followers to.

Among other things we can see about the life of Jesus, it definitely wasn’t one of safely patiently waiting until the inevitable end. As He was sent on the mission, so His followers are on the mission. That mission seeks to impact and influence a world corrupted by the kingdom of darkness so they can clearly see the alternative is breaking though in the Kingdom of light.

Looking after the elderly, visiting the lonely, supporting the prisoner, feeding the hungry, being a voice to the voiceless, advocating for the disenfranchised, loving each other as He loved us. Those are some of the expressions of the Kingdom to which we belong and to which we are called to be missionaries. Every member of the Body of Christ, gets to use their gifts to minister others and in doing so get to share their message they have. They do not have a message to drop off alone. The Kingdom reality is one that is clearly demonstrated in ways that shows clearly that God rules – in healing, delivering and restoring, He establishes His rule clearly.

I appreciate the challenge in being a missionary, though. Especially as it’s been referred to as a specialist subject designed for specialist Christians with their specialist knowledge. As we pat them on the back and tel them to get on with it, we can just slink back into safe and unperturbed waiting for the inevitable end. The only issue with this is that it is no way indicated in scripture. Seeking first the Kingdom and His righteousness – – is about looking for ways God answers our prayers for His kingdom to come and will be done. He has a great way of doing that, by putting us to fulfil the purpose for which we’re here by fulfiling the ultimate purpose for which He has called us.

Being a missionary really is not the sole preserve for the brave types going into the places yet to be reached by the gospel. Being a missionary is just as much about how you’re a Kingdom ambassador wherever you go. Every day we have opportunities to be about the business of prioritising the mission.

I remain grateful for significant influences throughout my life who pointed me to the implications of Kingdom first. I am grateful about the reality that this makes me a man on a mission, just like the example I follow was an mission. It calls for much to rely on Him, but once that takes place following His lead becomes more of a delight.

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a missionary of and for the Kingdom of God.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Messenger

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

True story. I loved journalism. For a while I wanted to be a journalist. In fact at one time I was seriously studying towards a career in it. One of the things I liked about journalist was the opportunity to apply my love of words to report on current events. I love the thought of reporting and sharing the news.

Though that ambition was not realised, I have been given a greater opportunity to share the news. As a member of the Family of God which is the Body of Christ, I have the privilege of being a minister of Jesus Christ. Being a good servant of the Lord includes carrying out the calling to be a messenger. Indeed every follower of Jesus is given the clear instruction to be about the business of being a messenger.

The good thing is, though, that in a world full of negative messages, we get to share the best news in the world ever. We get to share the good news that Jesus is Lord. We get to share the good news that He has overcome the powers of sin, death and the devil to establish the eternal kingdom based on righteousness, peace and love. We get to share this good news and invite people to accept it and so get in on the action of embracing this Kingdom in every day. They get to see for themselves the difference between this glorious Kingdom of light and the Kingdom of darkness that in comparison they were only stumbling and fumbling about in.

Sure, it’s unfortunate, that for whatever reason not every follower of Jesus is quite on board with the instruction to share the good news. And not everyone does a good job of backing up the news as though it really is good news for them. Sure – that’s unfortunate. Yet this is to be expected with such an enterprise – always going to be a few people who didn’t quite the memo, always going to be the odd person who didn’t quite understand. For the most, though, this is the sort of news that when you think about it gets easier to share.

Look at the news! Look at this glorious news! Look at this – from a rule of slavery to sin, there comes this Redeemer, there comes this Saviour, there comes this Lord and Master. Here He comes and He says He rules with righteousness and justice. He says He is the Resurrection and the Life – so we need not die in His rule. He says He is the Bread of Life – so we need not hunger any more in His rule. He says He is the Light of the World – so we need not experience darkness in His rule. He says He is the Gate – so we can have free access to our Father in His rule. He says He is the Good Shepherd – so we can be assured of nurturing and protection in His rule. He says He is the Way, Truth and the Life – so we need not stumble around with lies, mis-directions and the disaster that is death. He says He is the True Vine – so we can flourish in all fruitfulness in His rule.

This is great news!! Who on earth would want to satisfy themselves with the grim morsels of gossip and chew on the dreary fat of malice, when they can feast on this news of life to the full as they look and live?

It may not have worked out for my ambition to be a journalist as I hoped. Getting to deliver this good news, though, through the variety of means available from a chat in the local pub to a blog read around the world, from WhatsApp messages to telephone calls, it’s brilliant.

This is not a passing fad or a trend popular for the moment – this is the eternal truth. The good news remains the good news whether you choose to accept it or not, but it’s great when you get the chance to do it having heard it. So thank God for the feet of those blessed with the privilege of sharing the good news – our God reigns!

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Minister

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saying that can sound rather conceited in certain religious circles. Calling yourself a minister comes with certain expectations and perceptions derived a great deal from various traditions and cultures. So allow me to be clear in what I mean.

I am a servant of Jesus Christ.

My understanding of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ is to be His servant. Yeah, you’re His brother. Yeah you’re His friend. But yeah, you’re His servant. That means that I am His servant. I serve at His beck and call. As I said, however, that really should be the case for any follower of Jesus Christ. It’s unfortunate that the term has now been used to distinguish some followers from others almost as though some are servants where others are not. That distinction quite clearly isn’t the case in scripture. Members of the family of God which is the Body of Christ are implicitly called to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, it’s kind of in the term ‘Lord’. If He is the Lord that would suggest He has servants.

The amazing thing about this experience, however, is that our Lord is the Chief Servant. He is not calling us to do anything He Himself hasn’t done. When He tells us to forgive, it’s because He forgives. When He tells us to treat the least as though they are more important than us, it’s because in His ministry – His service – on earth the Creator of the Universe did just that. He tells us to serve only after He showed us what it is to serve. Likewise the point of being a member of the Body of Christ is that as servants of Christ we are called to serve each other. What makes the love we have so outstanding is when its expressed in the delight to serve each other. Then there’s the treasure and wonder that is serving the world around us. All of that serving is what it is to be a minister. There is no difference.

I had the great privilege of seeing the servant heart of being a minister personally in the form of my Dad. I saw this man diligently carry on serving others without looking for any praise or acknowledgement at all – primarily because he knew that in serving others He was serving the Lord and there is great delight in being pleasing to the Lord who did so much in serving you.

There was something that helped me tremendously when I ‘decided to follow Jesus’. The call to serve is not always obvious in certain religious circles especially if you expect to be served. You have turned up to a ‘service’ expecting to be served. You place a tag of ‘minister’ on someone and avoid it yourself and expect that ‘minister’ to serve you. Meanwhile other concepts of ‘minister’ is more like a boss who functions to give instructions to those who for whatever reason they feel should be serving them. It gets messy in a hurry.

This is why the example of our Lord is so inspirational and motivational just when it gets so tough to recognise and live up to that call to be a minister. To know He is not looking sternly over you as though you constantly disappoint Him, but actually is even willing to wash your feet in order to prepare you to run with the gospel that liberates you to serve. It is truly amazing. It in itself makes serving others more rewarding as you do it to Christ.

Unsurprisingly then, it’s one of my greatest delights to come across other followers of Jesus who embrace the call to serve. They don’t wait for ‘permission to serve’ seeing as though it was given at the time they were filled with the Spirit. They are then enabled to serve their family in the faith, their neighbourhood, their workplace, and the world around them in a variety of ways all because of what Jesus has done for them and recognising His Lordship over their lives, they willingbly submit to being His servant for the glory of the Father. I love it. It inspires me and challenges me to keep pursuing this natural flow of what it is to be a member of His family.

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Member

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a member of the family of God which is also the Body of Christ.

There was a song we used to sing in the church that spoke of how glad we were to belong to the family of God. It was a beautiful song and would get the sort of camaraderie that would give the impression that what we were singing about was true. Yet for years I never quite experienced that. Sometimes the behaviour was more like a social club where membership in the club gave you insider perks and bonuses which was more about having the inside gossip.

That discrepancy between what we sang and what I experienced only grew when I read in the scripture what it was to be a member of the family of God and the Body of Christ. Thankfully, however, there were also glimpses of what it was like to be a member of the family and the Body.

For example being a member of the family really is a tremendous privilege. Everything flows from that truth. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus did what it took to bring us back to the Father – who I could now refer to just as much as my Father as anyone else’s. That, however, was not about being a part of a closed shop of people from a certain denomination or cultural preference. That was about seeing the heart of Jesus touch the hearts of people crossing denominations and cultures and there is a powerful connection because of Jesus that makes us family.

This is supposed to be the best expression of family because of our Father and our big brother. It is supposed to be, but it is made up of flawed and fallible people only growing to become like their Brother in the image of their Father. Yet there are always glimpses and the foundation of the family always gives hope to what we’re growing into. At its best it is the best family in the world – it is a family of men and women learning to submit to each other, learning to consider the other better than the self, to see the value that Jesus placed on relationships reflecting divine unity and pursuing it.

Being a member of the Body of Christ is likewise an enormous privilege. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus is the single most influential human being ever to walk the planet. His mission, His teaching, His acts, His death, His resurrection, His treatment of friends and enemies alike have profound reverberations that have lasted millennia. His Body that He left on earth have that tremendous privilege of continuing to live His life here and now. Being a member of His Body really does mean joining in with others to see people healed, people follow life-changing teaching by learning to live the life of Him who is life. It is my life to live His life today and I get to do that connected with others who are likewise doing that.

When I think of people being sent to speak the heart of God to the world and share the good news whilst nurturing people and helping them learn about what the fullness of life looks life – wow, it’s brilliant. It doesn’t always feel brilliant. It doesn’t always feel like it is a Body, or if it is it’s comatose or paralysed or simply asleep. But it is a Body and because of the Christ we love and adore, this is His Body and one that He knows is vibrant and thriving all over the world despite the challenges it faces. Sometimes reading about what He has to say to the 7 churches in Revelation, it feels like little has actually changed about the nature of the Body. Yet this work in progress is making progress. Lives are being touched every day.

I have been guilty of criticising and feeling very sceptical about family and the Body. Yet in a real way it is self-harm. If a positive difference can be made my contributions about things going on in the Body then that is good. anything else – murmuring and complaining about how things are, proves to be counterproductive. I am a member – it’s my family and if the Body hurts, I hurt, I am a part of the Body. Any pain felt should have me seeking for the cure, for the right remedy. I feel very strongly about the family aspect of the things. It’s such an important element to express properly and I am grateful for the glimpses I see and I experience – genuinely seeing people from various cultures treating each other as brothers and sisters cherishing the unity of the Spirit.

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a member of the family of God which is also the Body of Christ.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What Kind Of Man Are You? In Pursuit Of Peace

Peace or pride.

Among other terms of reference for Jesus is the Prince of Peace. This is helpful for those who follow Him as He went on to say that those who are peacemakers are likewise referred to as sons of God. Peace is a big deal to God.

The responsibility of man to look after the earth specifically by subduing it was to bring it to order, not let it get wild and loose and to best utilise the resources that would bring out the best in creation. He was called to make peace in the garden as its keeper. Enjoying and sustaining the wholeness experienced in the garden was the first call to be a peacemaker. Messing that up inevitably called for greater works of peace to take place. Not only were there the natural order to keep in check, now mankind had problems with themselves, namely their tendency to wreck peace.

You have heard it said that religion has caused a lot of wars. A lot of what’s wrong in the world is placed at the doorstep of the various religions and faiths that have cropped up over the years. There’s good reason for that claim too as people declare the need to go on conquests and crusades because that’s what God told them to do. It’s a useful construct until its dismantled.

When it is dismantled, the truth of the matter is that wars have happened because men have not craved for peace. Men may have used religion as a vehicle, but history shows that they just needed to have something in them to make them feel superior to the other. Men have just needed that feeling of being better than the other and slighted by the fact that the other person is around.

The same issue that caused man to tear away from fruitful and peaceful life with God is the same issue that causes man to see his neighbour as the enemy who needs to be conquered or crushed. It stems simple from pride.

Jesus lived a life free from pride because of His complete dependence on God. That made Him the best example possible of a peacemaker. Unsurprisingly, though, when men without peace saw a man living in peace and bringing it to others, that only evoked that sense of a threat and desire to wipe Him out. They crucified Him. They went onto to kill others who were a threat to the status quo by their desire to believe the Man of peace and usher in that peace in their actions in the world.

Peacemakers are a threat to pride.

They are a threat because they see the way of God is not seen by self-exaltation, but by everything and everyone being nourished and nurtured to blossom in their own way. The peacemaker in looking for the wellbeing of the other and not the self is a threat to the mentality that idolises the self above all things. The peacemaker in seeing that wholeness is the harmony and submissive interplay of all creation is a danger to the one that wants everything to be revolved around self-gratification.

Yet this peace is unstoppable. Even though they crucified the Prince of Peace, He rose triumphantly from the grave. Even though they shed the blood of the followers of this Prince, the blood merely inspired others to see the blessing in pursuing this peace. When Stephen asked God not to hold the sin against those stoning him, the gesture of peace and forgiveness in contrast to the violent brutality of apparent men of God was noted by one condoning the stoning. So when Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul that act of peacemaking among others may have influenced his own instruction to Timothy to make the pursuit of peace a dominating priority.

The pride in man does not want to pay the price for peace. The Prince of Peace not only was delighted to pay the price, His invitation to demolish pride is a gateway to establishing a peace that surpasses all understanding. Embracing this truth makes the pursuit of this peace a must for men who truly want to live up to that standard of real manhood set for them by the King of Glory who took on flesh and lived with us.

To see a world of peace requires the ongoing death to pride. This is a price worth paying to see what Jesus indicated in His many acts of peacemaking – a world where the Kingdom of heaven is seen on the earth ushered in by those who make peace.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What Kind Of Man Are You? In Pursuit Of Love

Love or fear.

Generosity as a characteristic is incredibly attractive. Something I’ve noticed is that generosity is not based on material goods. Some of the most generous people I have come across would not be classed as rich in most people’s eyes. Yet they were never in lack and hardly ever in a place of discontent even when circumstances looked tight. They were always desirous to give something especially if it was something as valuable as their time and attention for you.

The opposite quality is being stingy. There is something about that characteristic which has looked to hide itself behind terms such as ‘prudent’, ‘cautious’ and even in a highly presumptuous way ‘wise’. The stingy nature, however, requires a self-centred attitude. And an attitude based on ‘concern’ for what would happen if, then in the light of that ‘concern’, they rationalise that rather than giving and losing, they might as well keep.

That ‘concern’ is a disguise for fear. Fear that drives people to withdraw and withhold at just the time when the opposite is needed. Experience, however, reinforces those ‘concerns’. You give someone your trust and they betray it. You give someone your time and they effectively waste it. Not to mention what they do to your heart if they ever get that close to you. So, understandably, for safety reasons, it’s best, so we reason, not to give much away.

One of the compelling qualities of Christ is His love. This love brought Him into the lives of twelve men and He entrusted His life to them. So much so that one was close enough to betray Him. So much so that He even knew they would desert Him and yet He entrusted Himself to them, called them friends, washed their feet and modeled the kind of love worth pursuing. This kind of love was never deterred or rationalised away because of fear. It didn’t ignore fear either, it acknowledged the very presence of fear and overcame it because the darkness of fear could never overcome the light of love.

This model is also evident in the love that the disciples would have for each other. Persecution and opposition did not defeat it, it only let it spread to wider parts of the known world. People captured by this love began pursuing it and expressing it and found life so much more fulfilling in sharing and experiencing the blessing in giving rather than receiving.

Fear still looks to hold people in their grip ad as they withhold and withdraw. The tragedy continues to be that the more they withdraw and withhold, the more they shrivel and look to make the world around shrivel too. Living in fear is no life at all.

The life that Jesus offers is about a love that trusts and gives. He gives and broken lives are made whole by it. He gives and emptiness turns to overflowing by it. He gives and the oppressed are set free.

This is why this kind of love is worth pursuing, it’s the kind of thing worth making life all about, it’s just the kind of quality that should define a man.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden