When A Teacher Lays A Foundation

I suppose different things appeal to people in different ways. 

I have had the privilege of being in different church environments. Some prefer a very rigid structure and order. Some are more flexible. Some make a big deal of monologue preaching as the central point of the gathering. Some make a big deal of the songs sung throughout the gathering. Some prefer a quieter approach. Some like it boisterous. Some like it to be short. Some enjoy extended time together. Some are intimate in setting. Some are designed for performance at the front and spectators watching on. The variety is very informative of people’s tastes, preferences, conventions and priorities. 

My preference is for a gathering that stimulates mutual edification and is the ground for teaching and learning. I love that. Don’t get me wrong singing and that has it’s important place and they too can contribute to the effort of building each other. It’s the meat of the matter of engaging intentionally with each other to stir growth that I love. That’s why for me, sometimes it’s what happens after the session rather than in the session where my attention is maximised. 

Be that as it may, I love being in a learning environment – growing in knowing God more through His Word by His Spirit. In that I love hearing teachers help to develop that setting for learning through their capacity to lay a foundation for what we are about to learn. I love it when they do that in a way that is clear for you as the learners to understand and see how it applies beyond the immediate setting to the different settings of life. It’s a gift to be able to do that. Everything built on such a solid foundation stands the test of time and experience. It also helps when looking to do the same for someone else in their journey of faith. 

When I come across those teachers who excel in that I applaud God for His kindness to us in making that available to us to help us know Him deeper. It’s great. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Reading Ruth 01 – Blessing in Bitterness 

​“Don’t call me Naomi, ” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:20‭-‬21 NIV) 

It is worth bearing in mind the degree of bitterness that was the basis for the beauty in this book. 

Famine sends a family away from their homeland. Strangers in a strange land the family expand when the two sons marry, but then shrinks at the death of all of the menfolk – father and sons – with no offspring from them. 

Naomi’s bitterness is justified. She has lost everything. It is more than understandable why she sees it as the hand of the Lord bringing misfortune her way. When bad things happen, it is fair to say it as you see it and say it as you have experienced it. 

What is intriguing, though, is in the middle of it all, as she is about to return home, she has enough to bless her daughters-in-law. She gives the blessing of kindness and new husbands. That blessing is the basis of this book even though at the time all that surrounded Naomi was the sight of the misfortune she suffered. 

Her example, however, evidently left a deep impact on Ruth. Here was someone from Moab who was willing to leave everything she was used to in order to follow her mother-in-law. A lot is made of Ruth’s dedication and devotion to Naomi which speaks volumes of Ruth’s character. It also, however, speaks to what it is about Naomi so that even in her bitter state, the blessing on her character would be such a strong attraction to Ruth to essentially commit the rest her life to her. 

Tough times are the making and the breaking of us. Even in the breaking, there can be the smallest signs of blessing even through the people God allows to stay with us through the tough times. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Writing and 1 Kings

Talking verbally is something that I do fairly well, but I prefer writing. By writing I mean typing either on a laptop or on a mobile device like a tablet or phone. I believe people are more used to me for the verbal, but often my best manner of expression is through the written word. 

I am grateful for portals like WordPress and Evernote that give me the place to write. Writing has been something that I have extended to articles as well as blog entries and the occasional study and presentation material. I have written quite a lot here on the blog and along with notes and ideas as well as the material used by others it’s getting to be a fair amount of written resources to be put to use alongside what comes to my mind on a relatively regular basis. My hope is not to let them go to waste but make the best use of it. 

Meanwhile today far too quickly saw the end of the daily study on 1 Kings. What a book. From the end of the glorious reign of David to the end of the inglorious reign of Ahab. It really is the depiction of the fall and decline of the people of Israel. Whatever heights Solomon may have achieved means little to nothing as the northern kingdom of Israel lurches from bad to worse. King after King refusing God and leading to the rise of the voice of God calling out to His people to return to Him, yet for every sign and wonder He presents, the heart of the people and their rulers refuse to accept Him in His rightful place. 

It’s insightful to know that because I believe God still does wonders today that are remarkable signs of His presence on the earth and yet people still refuse Him. Still can’t accept Him in His rightful place. This is to be expected and as a follower of Jesus it reminds me that being made in His image is not about primarily pursuing the wonders and signs. It is primarily about pursuing His character and His cause. Getting hung up on that can help me significantly avoid the downfall of the kings that followed David. Keeping that in mind requires inner reminders of His presence with me and the purpose of the presence to proclaim the personality that makes all the difference. 

As has been the pattern this year so far, I won’t dive straight into 2 Kings just yet. The book of Ruth has emerged as one worth exploring in the daily method that has been my rhythm of late. So look out for that soon. 

Thanks again for the time you take in reading this blog. It is hugely appreciated. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 22 – No Room for Ignorance (Ahab: Strike Three) 

​But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.” (1 Kings 22:14 NIV) 

Ahab had no excuse. 

Even before Elijah there was sufficient for Ahab to know there is only one true God in Israel. He knew the one true God when Elijah called a drought. He knew the one true God when Elijah defeated the Prophets of Baal. He knew the one true God when he was granted victory twice from the Arameans by God in two very different environments. He knew the one true God when he was reprimanded for taking Naboth’s vineyard corruptly. 

Ahab knew the one true God. And consistently chose to ignore Him. 

There now arose an affair that brought an amazing united approach to warfare between the northern end southern kingdoms. Having experienced conflict with each other, now Ahab had looked to work with Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. The only proviso Jehoshaphat made was to get God’s permission, first. What continues to make me chuckle is that Jehoshaphat hears a number of prophet give them the thumbs up. They are all saying, go ahead and win the war, but for all that Jehoshaphat actually suggests that they may not be the real deal in getting God’s Word on the matter. 
Enter Micaiah. In each of the previous two episodes, Ahab was approached by a different prophet. There was one unnamed who approached him after he didn’t kill Ben-Hadad. Elijah approached him after the Naboth Incident. Micaiah completes the hattrick. As with the other encounters, Ahab does not particularly like these men. Whose to say Micaiah didn’t prophesy at the Ben-Hadad Incident – but that’s purely speculation. What isn’t speculation is that now Jehoshaphat has exactly what he asked for because in Micaiah there is a man who is not about soothing a king’s ego, he is about being the mouthpiece for the Lord. 

What is incredible, is that even though such a stinging prophecy has been brought his way about his downfall, Ahab still decides to go ahead with the conflict! There’s also something to be said about Jehoshaphat going out despite the Lord in no way giving any indication of victory. 

It is Ahab’s last stand, though. Here he is looking to be clever in going into the battle in disguise. Now why would he do that? Knowing he would be a target? Anxious because of what he heard in the back of his mind? Whatever his concern was it all came to nought. 

God is not unfair in executing justice. He had spoken time and time again to Ahab. He speaks in many ways to us today. He will not be unfair when He executes justice. Through His grace expressed in so many ways there will be enough of a basis to give fair judgment. 

There will be no room for ignorance. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

I Love Philosophy and … 

A group of us were doing some evangelism training. One of the best things about the training is the space to explore the concepts together. People make great inputs and our understanding of things is at least heightened. 

One issue on the matter of sin arose. I asked a question and that unleashed an on-rush of great comment on the nature of man and the goodness of God. It was great stuff. From that I was labelled ‘the philosopher’ and ‘the theologian’. It’s not the first time I have received such labels and at the time I had a bad reaction as it triggered some bad memories of being excluded from others because I was considered a brainy type that couldn’t talk to others unless it was in bug words. Thankfully, though, this was a good group of people who enjoyed jesting, so I eventually took it in that way and things were fine. 

It made me remember, however, that I do love philosophy. I like all those questions about why we do and why we believe and why we are the way we are. I love all that. It’s great stuff … 

And … 

In as much as I love all of that and as beneficial as it is perceiving underlying motives and drivers in the individual and collective expression, I am also very aware that it is not philosophy that can change the nature of a human being. In fact it is seeing the various ways in which we look to negotiate around and away from God that fascinates me so much and makes me all the more concerned to be aware of the godly thinking I need to develop to present in response to the various philosophies underpinning behaviour today. 

I am not ashamed of my love of philosophy. More importantly I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ that continues to be of greater significance than the most compelling philosophies humanity has devised. I depend on Jesus more than ever to think right! 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 21 – No Room for Injustice (Ahab: Strike Two) 

​Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!” “I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.” (1 Kings 21:20) 

The fix was in. He never stood a chance. He signed his own death sentence the moment he had dared to say no to the husband of Queen Jezebel. 

In one way, the Royal marriage was truly remarkable in its effectiveness. Jezebel urged her man on in doing what they deemed to be right in their sight. In return, he looked to her for strength, support and counsel. It was a great marriage in that sense. In every other sense this marriage was repugnant because of its rampant pursuit of doing evil in God’s sight. 

When Ahab could not get his own way because Naboth wanted to honour his inheritance, Jezebel was able to flex the power of the throne for corrupt purposes. The way in which Naboth is dealt with highlights the despicable way in which Jezebel sees power works for her. God will not let her get away with it. 

The character of Ahab, however, is a complex one as this episode shows. He is shown to be petulant, covetous, weak and without conscience in snapping up the vineyard he had craved. Yet despite his manner deemed to be the most vile, as he is found out by Elijah he amazingly displays contrition and meekness. This clearly shows that Ahab is no two dimensional villain who cackles at the bad he does. He is capable of repentance, he has seen enough to know who the real God is and how he is to be served in righteousness and justice. 

This knowledge, however, would not be sufficient to save Ahab. His capacity to humble himself in the light of this incident, did not overcome the deeds of his idolatry and injustice. The extent and depth of his wickedness was significant, though he was contrite now, he was still only one strike away … 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

An Approach to Improving 

I am not sure where it comes from. It would not surprise me if things like the Protestant Ethic were highly influential in its promotion. What I am referring to is the way that people believe things get better if you work harder. 

By work harder, the expression usually involves appearing to apply more pressure to something. Adding even more muscle and grit to something. Give it one more almighty push. Go for that extra hour. Sweat a bit more and grunt louder and the results will come. 

For some that works a treat and even when it doesn’t work they applaud the appearance of more effort being put into it. As that works for some, I am not always sure it works for all and because of its prevalence, people might overlook alternative approaches to improvement. 

Those approaches include working out wiser ways to improve. Being a better writer has not required more hours. It has required better use of the hours available. Being a better presenter hasn’t required a greater strain in speaking and elaborating. It required sensitivity to time for preparation, practice and delivery and then particularly investing time in learning from others. 

A lot of time and energy has been saved by not doing the same thing with more effort, but doing something different or approaching it from a different perspective. 

They are alternatives in approaching the issue of improving. I don’t want to stay at the same level in any of my pursuits. I like the thought of advancing and improving. I think it’s sad that many have stuck to one tune in thinking that is the only path to improving. I hope I will always be open to wisdom in the path of progress. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden