Talk About The Committed Few

I salute and applaud the committed few.

When certain initiatives begin with the hype and excitement it can draw a crowd. People get caught up with promises of great benefits if they subscribe, participate and contribute. That all sounds good at the start. There’s also the appeal because there’s a crowd, so it must be popular.

Then of course the shiny new thing becomes worn and it’s harder to pluck up the motivation to get excited about it. Then as you see others dropping off from it, you feel like you might as well join them, especially as there’s this really exciting new thing that has just dropped on the scene. So the cycle of disappointment continues.

This is why I salute and applaud the committed few.

They see the benefit of keeping on keeping on whether there’s a crowd, a crew or just the core. They are not blindly following a routine for the sake of it, they see something of far greater worth, being faithful in the endeavour for the season God calls them to the task. Indeed the only eyes that matter to them is the pair from the heavenly Father delighted again seeing His son and daughter delighting themselves in Him, following in the way of the Master.

They just love spending time with Him, doing His business even as others go onto something else. They love moving when He moves, even if it means leaving the lucrative, the secure and the highly regarded. Remaining committed and faithful to what He has started is a lot more important than the crowd excitement that is here today and gone tomorrow.

I salute and applaud the committed few.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Talk About A Reformation

My mentor mentioned the fact that this coming October would see the 500th anniversary of a significant moment in the Christian religion.

For the first 18 years of my life, despite being brought up in a church environment, I had absolutely no idea what the Reformation was about. It was never talked about in any great detail in the church circles I navigated. It was only in leaving my home to go to university that my exposure to the wider Christian world got me in contact with this rather pivotal time in the faith.

I am certainly not defining myself as an expert on the subject, but I do find it intriguing especially the repercussions it had for studying scripture, considering salvation, being church and the numerous divisions that came from that moment.

Considering different elements of the Reformation got me thinking about whether one is needed in this day and age. While many go looking for revival, which in itself can be a commentary on Christian culture in that area, the matter of reformation is not always considered, yet that’s a pity because it might just be as useful a conversation to live out.

Of course, then there’s the question of what I mean by a reformation now and what it would look like. Thinking about those things in the light of a project I might have mentioned and some very exciting developments taking place in my life, makes the question all the more relevant.

All that to say, don’t be surprised if talk about a reformation crops up again on this blog. Meanwhile have a think yourself about the issue.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

… To The New

What keeps me going among other than is what I am going towards.

It’s like no matter how many times I read or hear of being a new creation in Christ and the old passed away and the new has come and the new heavens and earth and the New Jerusalem – the newness of it becomes all the more startling and appealing.

In it all, however, the most compelling element is the one who leads from the old to the new. He is the New Adam, He ushers in the new covenant in His blood. Though He was in ages past, He makes all things new in His light.

It is not about having a discard for the proven and true of times that have gone before. It is about the clear focus of what I am pressing towards. He who calls me from the Old, gives good reasons to keep focused on the new. As long as that focus is clear, even in troubling times and moments of indecision, I can find hope and rest in Him.

Hanging on to what used to be, works for some even if the outcome is eternal loss. Clinging on to the One who promises the new and embodies it works for the faithful, even if there is a temporary loss.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

From the Old …

The old way wasn’t working. On the contrary, it was counterproductive in every way. What was supposed to be a help turned out to be a massive hindrance. Suffocating and stifling any hope of life, love and joy. Something had to be done.

The invitation was given to go the new way. That invitation was made at great expense to one but offered freely to you. All that was needed was to accept invitation and embark on the reality of the new.

There’s that stage of the novelty factor of the new. The excitement of the different, the promise of what will be better, the hope for the best. Soon, however, there comes challenges. Rising in nature, soon the novelty wears off, the promise is distant, the excitement has worn off and the hope has been battered.

Then we remember where we were coming from with rose tinted glasses. Maybe things were better off where we were. At least we know where we stood. At least we knew what we had. But this transitional stage, the stage in between, it’s odd, it’s uncomfortable, it’s unfamiliar and we don’t like that.

What are you going to do? Maybe it’s worth going back.

But at what cost?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Breaking and Moulding

In recent times things have been a little busy for me. Family life is still the priority for me and that expresses itself in different ways. Paid work takes its time, then there are other responsibilities that demand my attention.

In it all it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and then I remember.

There have been times in my life where I was too busy for God thinking I was doing everything for Him. There was something in me that made me feel like I was never doing enough and wasn’t good enough, so I had to keep busy. My worth was found in doing, as long as I was doing everything else was kept at arms length.

So God broke me.

“No He didn’t. He wouldn’t do that. He’s a loving and kind God. You did it to yourself. You messed up. Don’t go blaming my loving God for your mess!”

I hear you. I really do and maybe a lot earlier in my journey I would have agreed with you. I know, however, that if He didn’t break me, I would be in a pattern of pity and despair with that same drive to keep on doing and doing and doing without paying any attention to the relationship that gave me the means to do.

In His compassion and mercy, God broke me.

In doing so as my life fell to pieces I lashed out at everything that defined me as they were snatched away from me. I lashed out to God for being so cruel in taking from me what I felt I needed both externally and internally. How could He? What was I supposed to do now?

From that broken man, He taught me again how to relate to Him. Not out of routine and rote approaches, but out of a heart that longs for Him alone. And long for Him in a way that wasn’t based primarily on what He could do for me or what I could get out of Him, but just in appreciating Him for who He reveals Himself to be. Finding a hunger, passion and desire for Him. Seeing again that my life is not based on the fundamental of earthly food, but on nourishing on what God says.

That is not a quick process. It’s also one that is played out as life begins to get reconstructed again. The deal is to remember how things got broken and in being moulded what shape I am to take. Restoration is not necessarily in the shape I was in formerly. Indeed in the light of the breaking, the newly moulded form is much more sensitive to its fragility and dependency on the One doing the moulding.

Recently I got bogged down with a gnawing situation. I asked my wife to pray for me (please remember her in your prayers, she really has to deal with a lot). A result of that prayer was a reminder that everything I do is sourced in His commitment to finish the good work He started in me. If that requires further breaking and moulding, I have to be up for that, because just doing things isn’t the heart of the relationship. Many will tell Him they did things for Him, but He didn’t know them. My heart’s desire is not just to make Him known, but to do so from an ongoing and ever growing place of knowing Him.

It’s also a word of encouragement for you if you’re going through some breaking. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it doesn’t feel good or right at times. That’s all the more reason to trust Him – you are His work of art, the moulding process, with your active engagement can be as good as He always wanted it to be. Trust Him, He knows what He is doing.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Untapped No Longer

We were doing a group task. Adults mostly over the age of 30, many with young children and many who were coming from hard days at work.

I could understand if some of them were tired and just wanted to be fed stuff to passively take in for future reference. Yet all of them were engaged in this activity and I witnessed something amazing.

The task set was to design the perfect two week holiday with money not being a barrier. Very simple task, but from it sprang an array of ideas and proposals that highlighted a degree of creativity in that group of adults that had not always been on display.

The reason why it was rarely on show was because of those constraining boxes placed on people. They had the burst of creativity now, but soon they would revert back to type. Keeping to the parameters set for them by culture, work and other dominating institutions. Those parameters did not allow anything unless it served the purpose of maintaining the efficient running of the machine – perpetuating mediocrity with little room or regard for there being more to people than just being a cog in a lifeless machine.

Yet here in this gathering of men and women given full permission to just be themselves there emerged ideas and concepts wildly imaginative making significant impacts on the world. Taking a holiday and making it a time of investing in the lives of others to benefit from the good news of an invitation to enter into the rest of the Lord.

Witnessing this again reminded me of the life-giving power of Jesus that was never about swapping one drudgery of monotony for another with more pressure to be religiously correct. Here is the source of life setting us free to live if we had but the eyes to see it. Releasing us to truly function in line with all that He placed in us. Removing all the blockages that narrowed life to the unrewarding pursuit of more stuff and more security.

It got me thinking once more of the tragedy of so much untapped potential in the lives of many. I see glimpses and hints like in this activity. Yet it was more than that, it was again about encouraging people to tap into what they have been given for the benefit of humanity. Setting up those platforms is what can support the massive geyser of talent to bubble up to realisation.

So much we can do. So much we contribute to this universe if we tap into what God has done in us for His glory.

Creating platforms like that would make for an excellent job in bringing out what is within and let it spring up for all to truly benefit.

That reminds me of a project that I have been meaning to share ….

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Looking Back, Going Forward

It’s funny how I remember some things.

The other day I was reflecting on the account of creation in Genesis. I love contemplating on that beautiful account of God and the world we live in. I was thinking of lessons to learn from the account, like things starting in a mess but ending up very good indeed. Implicit in that was God in control orchestrating order out of chaos, light in darkness, fruitfulness and fertility from the muddle and mess. While He could look back at stages at that which was good, He would move on to the next stage towards completing something very good.

The day after that, though, I got to reflecting on the journey of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. I considered soberly how the great Creator of the Universe proved Himself again to be in control of all things even against the greatest earthly political and military power of the day. Yet in spite of the mighty works He displayed on behalf of His people, they still actively rebelled against Him. Rather than looking to Him, they preferred to look back and idealised what had been abject, oppressive existence under the foot of Pharaoh. It’s a sad state of affairs when you prefer the prison that kept you bound than the promise of the rest and liberty found in the truly greatest force of love, mercy and grace in the entirety of creation. So rather than enter the rest, only two people survived the journey from the land of slavery to the land flowing with milk and honey.

Later still, my beloved wife and I were conversing over our lives. It’s good to look back and see where we’re coming from noting God’s immense mercy, awesome grace and transformative love. As we talked, we thought about if there was a year we would want to go back to because it was such a great year. Considering carefully some really beautiful memories and superb experiences, we reached the conclusion that actually there wasn’t such a year. In as much as they had their notable moments and there were some truly outstanding years, as it happened, there was a sense that looking back is only as good as it helps us to move forward.

I don’t believe in a progressive approach to human history. I don’t think we are qualitatively ‘better’ creatures now than we ever have been and on a continual upward curve as a species getting better and better with each passing generation. Having said that, I also don’t totally buy into the thought that this is the worst generation of the species to ever set foot on the planet. My hope in Jesus leads me to believe that those who live in Him and allow Him to live and rule in them are ever growing and maturing through every situation, good or bad. They are becoming more Christlike and that is progress that impacts on a variety of levels. At the same time their growth is taking place in a cultural context praising economic economic and technological advances with little to show for real growth and maturity in the way of wisdom, compassion, justice and righteousness. This is not new. This is ever the way of humanity.

The key to it all is in learning from what we see looking back and look on to Jesus moving forward. I believe for those who choose to follow Jesus, there are brighter days ahead. Those brighter days may not live down to your definition and understanding. They can be so much more deeper and richer than that. This can lead to the joy of knowing whatever great years you have experienced, it is not to limit God to way back when. It’s to set our minds on Him, set our desires for Him and look to Him, wait on Him, trust Him and see how He leads us to those brighter days.

Creation, the Exodus, the settling in the Promised Land, the ever changing loyalties of God’s people made me weep bitterly for our human condition in the light of such a great God. To see the culmination of all this in the life, earthly ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His commission to the church gives me another dose of thanking God for what was and following Him into what will be.

This links in beautifully with what I was mentioning recently about the project and so ….

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden