December Thanks #04: Learning

It occurred to me again recently that there’s an order to things where I am concerned. I am a writer because I am a reader. If I didn’t read I wouldn’t be as curious and desirous to express myself in writing.

In a similar way, I am only ever much of a teacher because I am a learner. At heart as much as I am hungry to receive words, I enjoy learning. I don’t enjoy any kind of learning. There is an approach to learning that is fairly functional, clinical and kind of heartless. There’s a certificate to gain and recognition to boost future opportunities, so enough is done to gain it. That kind of learning has its place. It is not something I am keen on.

I love the kind of learning that captures everything. The emotions, the thoughts, the impulses. Everything. I like the learning that never stays content with what is learnt and always goes onto learn more for the benefit it will eventually give.

It has been my honour to engage in some outstanding learning experiences. Being with men and women who love life and that love has given them qualities they pass onto others who have the openness to receive it. The various creative ways that they have passed on their treasures of life have lead me to appreciate the beauty of learning that is not about classroom environments, academia, certificates and progress as defined by a society that often fails to consider being equipped is not always a matter of qualifications.

Listen, I don’t begrudge the system that has a method by which people are considered good enough to do a job. For me, though, there’s a lot more to learning than that. I am grateful to be a recipient of these methods of learning and growing.

It is something I recognise a lot too, that learning is not for the purpose of pride and boasting. It is something I have been guilty of before. Truly learning, though, is from a position of humility. My desire is to stay in that position to keep learning.

Life is a lot better because of the commitment to learning. For that I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What is Sanctification? A Brief Illustration 

Three minute theology. Why did no one tell me?!

I am engrossed in a Bible Study with friends about Joshua and we are at a point where Joshua instructs the people to consecrate themselves. When searching about it, I came across this. Love it.

So because I love it, I think it’s worth the sharing! Enjoy and engage.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #03: Friends 

Everybody needs somebody.

Twenty years ago I was a student at Essex University. It was the first time I lived away from home. I was far from my family and there was no one I knew in the area. Everything was new. It was all weird for me. I had no idea what to do.

For the first year of my time at university I had little idea about much and quite often I would keep myself to myself. Thankfully, however, one of the first things that happened as I settled in my room in the halls of residence was come across Lloyd Clarke. We lived in the same floor and set of flats. He was one of the first people I met there. He was in his first year too. He did a lot to help me settle into life at the university as someone else getting used to something new. I enjoyed hanging about with Lloyd. He was a great conversationalist and very funny indeed. It was through Lloyd that I was introduced to a wider range of music and it was through Lloyd that I came across the student radio station that would be a massive part of my time at the university learning and loving broadcasting, producing, writing, editing and some of the inner workings of media. All of that was great and that was down to the friendship I developed with Lloyd Clarke. He was a very good friend.

Twenty years after our first meeting we met again. He took the time to come and visit me and it was quite something to see him and his son, Gethin. They were a blessing to my household. Lloyd is loved by everyone in my family who have come across him. My Mum won’t stop singing his praises. Even my brother remembers him, which for David is very impressive. Now my children have already grown very fond of him and his loveable son. It’s a great pleasure to be able to show my children my friend who helped me tremendously during my university years.

Lloyd is a great reminder that everybody needs somebody. Before Lloyd my years at school earlier had never really had me establish close and tight friendships. I envied my brother for that capacity he had to develop a deep friendship. I had people who I liked a lot and had some good conversations with people – but deep friendships were thin on the ground. Lloyd and I didn’t go profoundly deep in our friendship, but the bond was real and true. For him to still remember and regard me to choose to visit me says much about his character and the nature of the friendship.

What’s all the more remarkable is that Lloyd will do what a number of other people who have claimed to be my friend have not done. Choose to invest time in me. I am very grateful for that and it has highlighted one of the key ways in which I treasure and seek to develop friendships that have come up subsequently. Those relationships mean something because of the time invested in each other. I love finding out about people and giving them the space to express themselves whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. I appreciate their capacity to share themselves and I endeavour to reciprocate.

Twenty years after I first met Lloyd there are other friendships that I have developed. Even this year there have been several that have been started with much promise and potential in them. I am hugely grateful to God for these relationships as they do much to help me in different aspects of my life. For all of those real, deep and meaningful friendships, I will always highly regard and admire that friendship with Lloyd Clarke that started all those years ago. God has given me connections that help me learn to love and respect His brilliant creation.

Everybody needs somebody and wherever I go, God gives me somebody. For that I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #02: Salvation

Rescue

There’s a relatively popular old gospel singer called Shirley Caesar. Among her many appearances I recall her cameo vocal on a John P Kee video. In it she gave an example of what it was to be rescued. Her story was of how if you saw your child wander into the road when a car is rushing towards them, you would do everything to reach out and drag or push them away from danger. Her statement was that in the same way in Christ, God has reached out and plucked us away from impending doom. He has come to the rescue.

This is a truth I am often reminded to remember. He did that for me. In Jesus Christ going to the cross, an enormous debt was paid and rather than heading for eternal doom,I have been snatched away from that. I sometimes look on different episodes in my life where things could have turned real ugly. I know what it’s like to be depressed and suicidal and I am grateful that before I took another step, God reached out and rescued me.

It is not always an aspect that I recount, which is why it’s good to be reminded to remember. It’s no surprise that I enjoy super hero things about someone rushing into the rescue. It is evidently reflective of a greater truth of a hero who didn’t rescue via exercising great super powers, but saved by giving up His life and taking on the sin of the world.

Salvage

Another aspect that I am really grateful for when I think of salvation is what He has done for a far bigger purpose than helping me avoid doom.

For this one, I love the scene of a rubbish dump. A man walks into this dump and notices an item that he wants to pick up. It appears damaged and there’s little wonder why someone has considered it good for nothing but scrap. It may have its moments, but it’s not up to scratch. Yet this man sees something of worth in it and is happy to pay the ultimate price to take it from the dump and patiently go about the process of restoring it to its full purpose for its proper use. That which would have been left in the dump awaiting scrapping now becomes a choice vessel for the use of the man who carefully and diligently worked on what He saw in the item itself.

A sense of drifting into uselessness is something I’ve experienced before. Despite being informed of talent, ability and being gifted, I never saw myself as being of much worth. I didn’t think my life was worth much. Yet in a growing relationship with Christ, I see His surpassing great worth in Himself. Also in Him I see that He has given me purpose and meaning. In that I see Him diligently and carefully working on my character so it reflects Him more and the pursuits of my life are becoming more aligned to that which is pleasing to Him and a blessing to others. That’s all because He would not let me continue living the lie that my life was of little worth and purpose. He did not want me to perpetuate a cycle of mediocre existence. He invited me on a journey where learning more about Him and celebrating Him for He is would be something that would shape my behaviour and pursuits.

When I say He is the treasure without measure, this is part of the reason why. He rescued me and He has salvaged me. I am His and He is mine. For that, I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Confronting the Challenge of the Community Commitment to Change

It’s one thing for Joshua to get his call from God to go forward and possess the promise. It calls for something else for the people to go with him.

Hearing the East Jordan tribes suggest that they would commit to the cause they were called to and encouraging Joshua to do what he needed to do is quite astounding. Here are a people committing themselve to support the greater cause even though their land had already been sorted. That level of solidarity with their family and wholehearted support for the leader says something about the cause and says something about their willingness to undergo change to see he job done.

To what degree are local gatherings of saints committed to that process of change. To truly become the vehicle expressing the Kingdom of God on the earth how ready are we to change? How committed are we to join our leader – Jesus – on the journey of inhabiting new space of Kingdom life and the changes that come with that -the battles and skirmishes we have to go through of institutional and personal areas of darkness that we long to cling to?

We can say verbally that we are sold out for Jesus, but it’s when He leads to address our much cherished norms and practices that we see how much we mean that commitment. It’s when He challenges us by saying if our time together is really about building each other up, is it really about using what we’ve been given to invest in someone so they can become more like Jesus. It’s when He highlights His bemusement at our ecstatic utterances that are followed with abject apathy at the culture around us as well as the culture we perpetuate.

My own journey with Jesus has been extensively challenged overthis year and I’m only just beginning to get in the swing and habit of addressing those areas He highlights. Yes, He’s patient,kind and merciful to us. He is also quietly insistent that we continue tocheck and check again if we really are a community of believers committed to ongoing change to reflect His character, His passion, His activity and His mission on the earth. That’s a communal thing, not just a personal thing and to get that going, to bring awareness to that is a task in itself. Thank God relationships, though, in which these efforts can begin, over time, to take root.

That should help us to follow Jesus in possessing the promise that He gives us.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #01: Family

Blessed.

What a word. What a thought behind the word. What a delight in the thought behind the word.

The more I consider the word, the more I appreciate it as a relational thing. Someone blesses me – that says something about the person and their connection to me. Being blessed is no even so much about the thing with which you are blessed as to the benefit it can have on other relationships.

So the first area of thanks I consider, is for the blessing of family. I recognise that I am extremely blessed to have loving earthly parents who are still alive. I have siblings that grew up with me and with whom I have a deep bond that is significantly meaningful and informs me to this day.

I am blessed in being a husband. That for me means being connected to a woman who devotes her life for my betterment. Sacrificially, wholeheartedly and compassionately, she does a great job at being a helpmate. She’s a friend and a companion and more. She is with me on the journey of life and for that I am hugely thankful.

God has then seen it fit in His wisdom to give us three daughters as well as my privilege of knowing her son. These children are incredible. Their different personalities, their love, their hearts and the deep link we have with each other that means there’s an unspoken understanding. The household is warmer and richer for their presence and such is their character that they also bring with them their friends who soon become fixtures in the home too much to our delight and joy.

Just when I thought the family thing couldn’t get any better, then God surrounds us with church family. At varying stages of closeness there are brothers and sisters in Christ who really are siblings. We really are family not just in a nominal sense. We share life together, we get deep, we get personal, we share laughs, we share meals, we share tears, we are free to be as real as we can and when that gets bare-bones transparent and vulnerable there is such a palpable sense of the richness of the grace of God among us.

Which neatly leads into the greatest family connection. The heavenly Father through the love of His Son and the power of His Spirit would choose to call me His own. That’s more than awesome. That’s more than brilliant. That’s more than words can convey. Material substance and financial wealth may not be something in which I physically roll in at present, but to know that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing because I am connected to the Father through the Son by the Spirit is something I value to a much greater degree.

My ongoing desire is for these blessings to be valued and cherished and used to invite others into this relationship with the loving, gracious, compassionate and forgiving Father. A Father who reminds me that every day there is something to be thankful for.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Something About Joshua

There are few things more worthwhile than reading and growing in understanding the Bible.

Of late I’ve recognised it can be easy to get caught up with other material on related topics without returning to the source. Yet there is a joy in returning to what the Bible depicts. There’s one book in particular that has perked my interest. That, as the title of this blog has blatantly stated, is the book of Joshua.

Before Joshua I was enraptured with looking at books like Ephesians, 1 and 2 Kings, the gospel according to John and Acts. Those books are really fascinating. When I got back to considering Joshua on someone’s recommendation I came across something equally as fascinating. A person and a people. A promise and a presence. It was so intriguing seeing the journey of this people in getting what had been promised and realising there was more to the promise than just arriving and receiving. It was of great interest to note that for all that was being done, the advances and progress was all attributed to God. I love how the book of Acts, for example, is really about what Jesus does through His people. Joshua is exactly the same thing – what God does through his people. Just as much as there is resistance in realising the promise in Acts, so there is massive resistance in realising the promise in Joshua.

There is the way the people get duped, there is the questions to be asked about what it was for the people of Israel to possess the promise. There’s also the end speech by Joshua. Reflecting a character who acts as a model of manhood that I can learn a lot from. his life is something I can learn of and how he handled the the transition from Moses in the desert to the people in the Promised Land says much about leading people through change. Something I am learning about quite a lot about in life.

It’s why I find the book something very much worth giving a go.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden