The Plant: Fragile to Flourish

There it is. The first signs of growth. Bursting through the soil reaching tentatively to the sun.

There are so many factors going against it. What if there are is an adverse climate? What if the surroundings are made hostile? Perhaps a rodent or pest may trample it down before it ever has a chance to really get to its fullness. There is no guarantee that it will survive from day to day.

Yet, somehow, despite the factors going against it, it does not just survive, it thrives. Adapting to its environment, drawing nourishment and strength from within and it’s roots, that fragile looking plant slowly but surely finds its place and flourishes. It is a beautiful sight that did not happen overnight and was not always meant to happen, but from deep down within it flourishes from the inside out and its flourishing is a blessing to those who see it for what it is and how it has got there.

It’s flourishing may last but a brief time, but the ripple effects may last way past its time on earth.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Kettle: Patient Passion

The kettle.

It contains water. Water that is in the process of going from one temperature to another. The state of the water previously was not good enough for the task required. The final state of the water will reach will be perfect for the task. You just need to raise the heat over time. In the suitable container that process can take place to the benefit of those who need the hot water.

Some people like it hot. Some people need it hot. Where are the kettles who can take the heat to deliver the goods?

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Running By The Rules

There is a saying going around that says that following Jesus isn’t about rules, it’s about relationship.

I hear that. I certainly get the gist of what it looks to oppose. There is a very real legalistic streak among some of us that is so rules oriented that the purpose of living and the real spirit of life gets extinguished.

Yet can you think of a world without rules? I mean the basics. Doesn’t your body operate by rules – you know, the way it says if you drink too much of one thing you can expect a shut down soon.

And anyway, don’t even relationships operate on rules? Informal, unwritten and casual though they may be, break them and see what happens. What happens when someone trusts you with something important to them and you break their trust. Tell me it’s not about rules then.

This is why the relationship with Jesus operates by understanding His own rules. You don’t have to get hung up on the rules side of things, primarily because the relationship is about liberating you to truly become what you were created to be.

That’s why it’s certainly worth knowing, in the race of life, what the rules are. It would be a shame to run it and lose because you were disqualified. It would similarly be tragic not to finish the race because you did not make the most of the support available to run the race well. The rules gives a lot of scope for help in excelling in running. The support on your side, if you choose to rely on it, will not just see you make it across the finish line, it will allow you to do it and win the prize.

That’s all there in the rules – if you take the time to check them out. Rather than than run into a dead end.

(Photo: Unsplash)

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

Moreover Blessing & Even Though Love

Moreover Blessing

It was something Authrine reminded me about. She was talking about how God responded to Solomon’s request. So I went to read 1 Kings 3 and loved how Solomon put himself at the mercy of God to just get the wisdom required to operate in his position as king. That degree of humility was something I took very seriously. No way I can carry out any of my responsibilities without that degree of humility – that knowledge that without God I am going to mess it up big time, but walking in line with Him, I can be thoroughly faithful in what He calls me to do.

God’s response to the prayer was the really exciting thing. The writer describes how Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. I love that thought. That thought that God smiled at it, as if He nodded his head because that was the kind of engagement he was looking for. Then that word in the NIV version popped up in verse 13 – Moreover. It got me excited to see God delighted to the extent that whereas Solomon asked for one thing, God gave Him so much more. That word moreover – suggesting it was time for God to show again He is a God of more than enough. As a man’s ways were pleasing to Him so He poured out a Moreover Blessing.

What I also noted carefully was how that bonus blessing was based on maintaining that humble desire to stick close to God. Things would go well for Solomon just as long as he remained committed to this relationship through obedience. It was sobering because it reminded me of that tendency to look for something from someone and as soon as the thing came the someone was either dismissed outright or became significantly less important. Yet here God emphasised how it’s all about the focus on the relationship. It’s not about the goodies we get from God – it’s about embracing the Giver as of far greater value than the gift.

The big deal was being in line with the heart of God and delighting Him to the point that we enjoy His Moreover Blessing!

Even Though Love

There’s brotherly love. It’s a great love among family, it is about those ties that boasts of a depth far deeper than casual and convenient acquaintances.

Yet, there is something about the love of God in Jesus Christ that still humbles me tremendously. What kind of love keeps trusting the people you will bring closer to you than anyone else even though they will misunderstand you, leave you in the lurch when it matters most, denies you three times and in one person’s case even betray and sell you out? What kind of love keeps going even though the wife you died for and longed to beautify time after time brings your name into disrepute?

No wonder it’s referred to as an amazing and divine love. That kind of even though love. A love that Paul evidently had in mind when referring the church in Corinth to it. This kind of even though love lifts us above the bitter resentment that lingers after hurt. This kind of even though love pours out liberating forgiving mercy and grace to others even as we are grateful recipients from an amazing Saviour who loves us even though

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What’s So Sweet About It?

One of the pivotal moments in my wall with Jesus took place in a church building in South London. It happened almost 20 years ago. The place was old and the inside was typically cold. Not many of us were gathered and that gave the place a sparse look about it all the more. Nevertheless we few got on with some words of encouragement and a few songs.

A hymn was selected that we sung. I had heard the hymn before and sung it umpteen times. But not on this occasion. The song was being sung, but not by me. I was paying attention to a narrative that described me to the tee.

I’m tired of sin, footsore and weary, The darksome path hath dreary grown, But now a light has ris’n to cheer me; I find in Thee my Star, my Sun.

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer, Till I am wholly lost in Thee;

It’s worth reflecting on the rest of the narrative in the song. It outlined an aspiration I had never taken as seriously as I did then. A desire to know God so deeply and so intimately that everything about me would only shine and declare Him. I cannot do justice in words to how transformative that experience in that dusty, cold structure was. Words were deep, God was more real to me than He had ever been. Tears flowed without inhibition as the encounter with the risen Saviour and Redeemer gave me a new lease of life.

Almost 20 years later, reflecting on that makes me applaud the goodness of God. It also made me stop and question God.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

Another song that came to mind was a golden oldie that declared The Longer I Serve Him, The Sweeter He Grows. I love hearing the song, it’s a real treasure. Yet, I looked on over 20 years of walking with Jesus and asked the question again.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

How is it sweeter now than it was in those heady days of loving Jesus and wanting to do His will with a seemingly unquenchable fire and zeal? If I based this on observation, it appeared that the longer you served, the more beleaguered you got. The more you got used to routine and the status quo. Indeed it appeared in some people’s case the longer you served Him the more cranky, tired and bitter you became.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

The answer came very helpfully from the sort of person who made it his business to consciously only sing songs he meant, not just because others were singing it or because the vibe was good. He reminded me to consider the one we serve.

Consider Jesus and consider Him deeply. Consider the invitation to travel from darkness to light as He leads. Consider He who knew no sin taking on sin so that we could be truly right in the sight of our Creator and Father. Consider Him who walks with us in our struggles and pains and can bear with us because He endured and overcame. Consider Him – gaze upon Him, rest in Him, grow in knowing Him, believe Him as He reveals Himself to you and see that serving Him is only possible because He gives strength, vision, joy and hope.

Doing that is no one off thing. Doing that properly is an all encompassing activity involving all of life. Jesus is considered in fighting injustice, Jesus is considered in enjoying recreational events. Jesus is considered at home, on journeys, in shopping, in paying bills, in grieving over lost loved ones, in celebrating the birth of newborn loved ones, in painting the kitchen, in ironing the trousers, in walking to work, in struggling with temptation, in having a good Thursday.

When considered in this light and appreciating that the consideration is a relational one ever growing in knowing, and that knowing brings greater light and joy even in times of confusion and despair. That consideration begins to explain why the will is sweet. It starts the path of exploring why genuinely serving Him gets sweeter as you do it more.

It’s a start. Of course to find out more is to actually accept His invitation for yourself.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

A New Month A New Season: Dryden Update

Thank you, Lord. July is over.

I did not dislike July. Quite a number of beautiful things happened over the month. Flicking through the blogs written over the month, I like quite a lot of what I wrote. Yet July is still a wilderness month in the summer. Never been a big fan of the summer and of July. Just a long month in every way with nothing to mark it out as a month to look out for – in my experience.

So for all the blessings I enjoyed in the month, I am very glad it’s over. And in a real way, the seventh month acted as one of completion and rest before a new month kicks off and I am particularly excited about the month.

Gotta be honest, the big reason for the excitement is the return of the football season. All the fuss around how things will be as the teams get ready to negotiate another set of fixtures and all that, I love it.

In more important things, though the thought of a new season for a game I love coincided with a thought about encouraging believers to cherish and embrace their call to service. Even as Jesus served and left an example for His followers to serve, there is something inherently out of sync in the life of a believer if they aren’t joining Jesus in serving others. It’s a concern of mine that this aspect of life in Christ is either neglected, minimised or left to refer to things that happen in the ‘worship service’ like ushering and the like. Folks from that type of Christian perspective won’t have a problem with that at all, but looking at how service was inherent in the life of God’s people in the time with Israel, how Jesus served and how service looked in the early church it often comes across as very different to how we get it and how we do it.

In any case, not just blogging and bleating about it, the verve is there to engage in and support others in getting involved in serving. A new season of service, if you will. Setting folks up to look at the bigger picture of serving and then identifying where they fit in that picture as we recognise what Paul told us all along that actually we are His workmanship created for good works in Christ that He has already prepared for us. That’s an outworking of the glorious salvation message we have received of the grace that makes us alive. We are saved and now we serve. It makes all kinds of sense – now it is about time we got on with it.

So those kind of things are keeping me going at this time of my life. I am enjoying writing a lot and want to get to do it a bit more often. I love my family a great deal at the moment and love the thought of doing family a bit more often. I love the Word of God and love the thought of engaging in it a bit more often and sharing findings with the saints as and when the opportunity arises.

Jesus is Lord and that is a beautiful fact. One of the things that meant a lot to me in July was appreciating that streamlining at times is a useful exercise to ensure as always I only do what God wants me to do and don’t get lumbered with well meaning baggage that takes up space and time that could be better invested in just doing what He wants. So for all the plans, schemes and dreams, I realise that it is good to be lead by Him to know what He wants and walk along the paths He sets.

So, with that stated, here’s looking back at July with thanksgiving and holding arms open with the broad Dryden grin in anticipation of the wonders August has in store. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with what’s going on with the man CD – keep me and my family in your prayers!

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden