Herbs and Spices: Enhancing the Flavour

The rice was plain. The chicken was plain. The vegetables were plain. That was what they were used to. Other than a bit of salt, they didn’t want their meal any other way, because they never had their meal any other way.

That changed when they were invited to taste a meal at their new neighbour’s home. Even before the food arrived they were pleasantly enticed by the smells. The aroma was rich and multi-faceted, it had an effect on their taste buds that they had not experienced before. The connection between smell and taste was more potent than they had known it before.

Then the food came out. They were told it was rice, but it certainly wasn’t plain. Overcoming initial scepticism at this different way of preparing and presenting rice they tried some. Then tried some more, and some more. They were amazed at what they were enjoying, so rich and filling in and of itself. The way the vegetables appeared was so different to what they had eaten before, but the rice had given them the courage to give the new setup a try. The wide eyes and broad smiles of delight were all that was needed to show their full acceptance of the vegetables. Someone mentioned that vegetables had always been something they avoided because it didn’t taste that appealing, but now they had to change their approach – this made vegetables all the more appealing without the use of anything artificial and unhealthy.

As they mixed some of the rice with some of the vegetables, they were all crowing about how gorgeous the smell, the look and the taste of this delicious meal was. That was before the chicken was unveiled.

By the time they had tucked away all that food and discovered how herbs and spices played a crucial role in the experience, they couldn’t hide their excitement and desire to know how they could bring this diversity into the mix of their own concoctions.

They were surprised to discover that which was new to them had been practised for longer than their plain old approach and it was about making the most of all that was given to them to create mouthwatering and belly-filling experiences like these.

That’s how they enhanced the flavour.

(Photos: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Does That Suit You?

A friend of mine was concerned.

He was asked to facilitate a session standing in for someone else. My friend’s concern was how to facilitate the session in the typical way that the absent facilitator would do it. The concern was understandable, after all, my friend didn’t want to upset a routine that people got accustomed to and he certainly didn’t want to draw attention to himself by veering off script.

However, as we conversed, it became clear that the worst thing he could do would be to facilitate it just like the other guy. It just wouldn’t suit him at all. Thankfully, as it transpired, my friend was able to be both considerate to the needs of those attending the session and still be himself in his delivery.

Despite his best intentions to just go unnoticed in carrying out the task and not draw attention to himself, his confidence, competence and comfort in delivering in a way that suited him left a great impression on those who took part. Such was the positive response that the original facilitator invited him to take more sessions.

There are a lot of outstanding things that people are doing in their own way and because it’s so effective, others look to turn one person’s style into a system and format and expect folks to fit that particular style. It’s evident in schools, it’s evident in offices, it’s evident in hospitals and it is evident in churches.

It can, however, be suffocating as people mistake a decent method for one person at one time, as a universal approach for all places at all times.

It is delightful when we recognise people for how God has specifically equipped them to function and rather than expecting them to fit our mould, we give them the space and the platform to serve in that specific way God has given.

This is why we celebrate a diverse group of people in scripture who displayed the brilliance of God in different settings that still expressed their God-given character and personality functioning in their unique calling as God directed. It would be a shame if we acknowledged that in the life of the called by God only to hinder that in the various formats and systems we put together.

This is not an invitation for selfish and self-gratifying pursuits where we can do whatever we like whether people like it or not. This is the pursuit of what God has specifically called us to be in service to Him for the benefit and blessing of others. He who made the best clothing for our parents, knows how best we can be clothed to be effective in what we do.

That’s why from time to time it’s good to look at what we are putting on ourselves and carefully consider – does that really suit you?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Affirming the Blessed

It has been a fair few centuries since He said it, but I wonder if the church He died for would recognise and affirm those He referred to as the blessed.

Those 8 characteristics are as counterintuitive and countercultural now as they were when He shared them with His disciples way back then. Sometimes in the bid to be people-pleasing and attractive to the eye, much is said to sell Christianity as something worthwhile because it’s like wish fulfillment, where all your wildest dreams come true and phrases about having the best in this life are appealing and gratifying, especially as they often coincide with what the world and the flesh suggest would be the best in this life – security, comfort, material benefits and happiness.

It’s jarring, then, to hear Him once more make the clarion cry that the blessed pursue something of far greater worth than security, comfort, material benefits and happiness. Indeed the blessed turn a lot of what others would deem that which truly makes us happy to that which ultimately makes us holy – not for our sake but for His Name’s Sake.

Yet how do we actively affirm what He referred to as the blessed?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Hub

One of the best memories I have in life is of The Hub.

My good friend Andy lived in a place that we loved to refer to as the hub, where God could do business with us because it was a place of transparency, hospitality and honesty that encouraged vulnerability. The occasions I would enjoy just sitting on the sofa at his place as we went from laughter to tears and back again, deepening friendships and being a lot more aware of the issues that prevented people being real.

Being a hub turned out to be not just about a physical location. It was an agreement among brethren. The environment could be created anywhere as long as saints were of the same mind and heart. Not to perpetuate rituals for the sake of it, but to relate to each other and God as time allowed.

This was not an exclusive club for believers that was inaccessible to those who were not as yet believers. The conversation was about life. Points in which people could connect and then get to see a gospel perspective.

I love The Hub and am grateful for the lessons learned from the experience that I have the privilege of practising today.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

When A Revelation Leads To A Reformation

For those of you looking for a piece on Martin Luther and the last book in the Bible, this is not that kind of article.

2 Chronicles 34 outlines an impressive chapter in the life of the nation of Judah. The new king Josiah lives up to the standard of David, one of the few kings to live up to it. It started well at an early age and stage after stage he continued to pursue God wholeheartedly.

One of the most impressive aspects of his reign was what happened when the book was revealed to him. The book read and the findings lead to him renewing an even greater zeal of national reformation to bring God’s people back to proper wholehearted devotion to God as He instructed.

While I don’t dismiss out of hand the possibility of a national fervour for the things of God, something of great importance for the church of the Living God is to realise from time to time, how we need to have the Word revealed to us again to make the necessary changes. Oh for the heart like Josiah to get rid of all the competing gods so as to establish the worship of the one true God as supreme over all.

2 Chronicles 34 – It’s a chapter worth considering …

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

Can You Not See? 

His tone was deliberately provocative and accusatory. He was talking about wider issues, but he was still talking to me. 

“Can you not see?” 

People are there who are more than capable of helping in the situation. Opportunities are wide open for exploring and maximising. Relationships were there to be developed and invested in. The needs were more than evident. 

“Can you not see?” 

The load was never designed to be carried alone. The mission was never given to be done solo. The journey was never for the single. The assignment could never be completed by one person on their own. 

“Can you not see?” 

Hungry souls and broken hearts, crippled minds and beat up bodies all needing a response that went beyond saccharine sentiments and cheap quips. Young people patronised waiting to be truly appreciated. Lonely people neglected waiting to be truly embraced and understood in community. 

“Can you not see?” 

His eyes ablaze and yet filled with tears of anguish at how oblivious people appeared to be to that which was blindingly obvious. Anger and sorrow met in the pregnant pause. The fiery eyes burned within seeking the dross of apathy to quench it completely. Its glare highlighted every dark area of mediocre excuses and rationalisations. 

“Can you not see?” 

Your conventions and your camps. Your summits and your convocations. Your large gatherings and your small groups. Your shouting and your hollering. Your loud music and your loud preaching. Your convenient and selective rule keeping. Your committees and your boards. Your schemes and your visions. Your fasting and your Bible studies. All your activities and your busyness. All in vain. All because of your blindness to what matters first and foremost. 

“Can you not see?”  

The truth is that we see only too well. We see and hear and have become so accustomed to it that it has become acceptable. It is the norm. It is what it is. Resigned, world weary shrugging of shoulders have accepted this as our lot. So. It is best not to kick up a fuss. Not to rock the boat. Sure moan about it and grumble every now and then, but what can be done about it. That’s the way of the world, we console ourselves by saying. Best not to do anything other than carry on with the activities and busyness that marks out our existence until we shuffle off this mortal coil. Our eyes becoming dimmed with every concession and compromise. Our ears filling up with the wax of hopelessness and defeat. 

Yet the prophetic voice will not be quieted. 

“Can you not see?” 

The voice calls us back to the One who gives us sight. The voice calls us to repentance – not in sackcloth and ashes but renewed by the Spirit of God to see – see with compassion and move to actively meet the needs – not alone, but in relationship, in community, in harmony, in camaraderie, in the beauty of a unity that doesn’t demand uniformity and conformity to the traditions of men, but in the call of Christ to display the multi-faceted wisdom of God through what He has given each of us. 

He that has eyes to see will see what the Spirit is showing the church. He that has ears will hear and in concert with God will move as He moves. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden