This Is God – Revisiting Psalm 146

There are some things in life that are really obvious. Things like, the start of the year is January and the end of the year is December. That’s obvious.

Yet here I am approaching the end of November and it’s really dawning on me that the end of the year is near. I watched a movie at the cinema recently and on leaving was reflecting on how many films I’ve watched this year so far.

What does that have to do with revisiting Psalm 146? That’s a good question to ask. Recently I was reading Psalm 146 again and was really taken with its content to such an extent that I wanted to write about it. Then it occurred to me that for the first 150 days of the year, I had be making my way through the Psalms and so on Day 146 I had written something about. Here it is for your reading pleasure. Go ahead and read it. I’ll be right here when you’re done.

The beauty about reading this Psalm again, though, was in seeing what it says about our God. I touched on the faithful aspect of God in the previous piece and mentioned in passing some of the other aspects of Him that are revealed in this scripture. What really intrigues me on this reading, however, is just how much God is a one who cares for His creatures, with particular note on the often marginalised.

There’s something in the list of those He looks out for that, for me reading it, nudges at what He means when He says He loves the righteous. The righteous would share the same concerns that God addresses in the rest of the Psalm. Their righteousness is not measured by adhering to a moral code based on things to avoid. This righteousness is about sharing the heart to see justice for the oppressed, see the hungry fed, look out for the orphan and the elderly. So much spiritual, social, physical and relational in how God reveals Himself and as a result what He expects from those who are His image bearers.

Don’t get me wrong – this Psalm is all about showing off about how great God is and what He does. Knowing this is the God we serve is massively reassuring. There is something about this, though that develops not just a trust in Him in a passive way as though we just keep our fingers crossed when bad things happen. There’s a trust in God to depend on Him and long to see that kind of rule manifest in our present age. If that is a desire, it changes our approach to wrong from either neglecting it or berating to being more compassionate and responsive.

That’s what I got from revisiting this particularly Psalm. As time passes by and I recollect what movies I’ve watched this year, I also reflect on the goodness of God that I have experienced this year, which is of vastly greater significance. Even in that reflection, looking at how great God is and what He does in my life and those of others motivates me to want to see Him do that more and be available whenever He calls me to be involved.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Missionary

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a missionary from and for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus hardly spoke about anything else. His entire life was about the mission – He was very clear about it.. He declared it, He demonstrated it. His call was for anyone following Him to also be about the mission of declaring and demonstrating just what the rule of God on the earth looks like.

For some time in the church circles that I grew up in, the focus was about being saved. Being saved was seen as a one off moment and once the line was crossed to ‘be saved’ there was the matter of living up to the morality of the church. A lot of it tended to be a bit defensive. There was a kind of reluctance to get engaged with the world and more of a desire to stick to our own to maintain the purity of our beliefs. Surprisingly very little was talked about the Kingdom of God. Likewise there was little indication that following Christ meant getting involved in the same mission as He was.

In a way it can appear rather appealing. You make a decision, you’re now in the club, you just got to keep yourself in the club and watch yourself from going out of the club and patiently wait as the inevitable end approaches and then you can leave all this behind. It’s a life with little in the way of much hassle. It’s just not the life that Jesus calls His followers to.

Among other things we can see about the life of Jesus, it definitely wasn’t one of safely patiently waiting until the inevitable end. As He was sent on the mission, so His followers are on the mission. That mission seeks to impact and influence a world corrupted by the kingdom of darkness so they can clearly see the alternative is breaking though in the Kingdom of light.

Looking after the elderly, visiting the lonely, supporting the prisoner, feeding the hungry, being a voice to the voiceless, advocating for the disenfranchised, loving each other as He loved us. Those are some of the expressions of the Kingdom to which we belong and to which we are called to be missionaries. Every member of the Body of Christ, gets to use their gifts to minister others and in doing so get to share their message they have. They do not have a message to drop off alone. The Kingdom reality is one that is clearly demonstrated in ways that shows clearly that God rules – in healing, delivering and restoring, He establishes His rule clearly.

I appreciate the challenge in being a missionary, though. Especially as it’s been referred to as a specialist subject designed for specialist Christians with their specialist knowledge. As we pat them on the back and tel them to get on with it, we can just slink back into safe and unperturbed waiting for the inevitable end. The only issue with this is that it is no way indicated in scripture. Seeking first the Kingdom and His righteousness – – is about looking for ways God answers our prayers for His kingdom to come and will be done. He has a great way of doing that, by putting us to fulfil the purpose for which we’re here by fulfiling the ultimate purpose for which He has called us.

Being a missionary really is not the sole preserve for the brave types going into the places yet to be reached by the gospel. Being a missionary is just as much about how you’re a Kingdom ambassador wherever you go. Every day we have opportunities to be about the business of prioritising the mission.

I remain grateful for significant influences throughout my life who pointed me to the implications of Kingdom first. I am grateful about the reality that this makes me a man on a mission, just like the example I follow was an mission. It calls for much to rely on Him, but once that takes place following His lead becomes more of a delight.

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a missionary of and for the Kingdom of God.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Messenger

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

True story. I loved journalism. For a while I wanted to be a journalist. In fact at one time I was seriously studying towards a career in it. One of the things I liked about journalist was the opportunity to apply my love of words to report on current events. I love the thought of reporting and sharing the news.

Though that ambition was not realised, I have been given a greater opportunity to share the news. As a member of the Family of God which is the Body of Christ, I have the privilege of being a minister of Jesus Christ. Being a good servant of the Lord includes carrying out the calling to be a messenger. Indeed every follower of Jesus is given the clear instruction to be about the business of being a messenger.

The good thing is, though, that in a world full of negative messages, we get to share the best news in the world ever. We get to share the good news that Jesus is Lord. We get to share the good news that He has overcome the powers of sin, death and the devil to establish the eternal kingdom based on righteousness, peace and love. We get to share this good news and invite people to accept it and so get in on the action of embracing this Kingdom in every day. They get to see for themselves the difference between this glorious Kingdom of light and the Kingdom of darkness that in comparison they were only stumbling and fumbling about in.

Sure, it’s unfortunate, that for whatever reason not every follower of Jesus is quite on board with the instruction to share the good news. And not everyone does a good job of backing up the news as though it really is good news for them. Sure – that’s unfortunate. Yet this is to be expected with such an enterprise – always going to be a few people who didn’t quite the memo, always going to be the odd person who didn’t quite understand. For the most, though, this is the sort of news that when you think about it gets easier to share.

Look at the news! Look at this glorious news! Look at this – from a rule of slavery to sin, there comes this Redeemer, there comes this Saviour, there comes this Lord and Master. Here He comes and He says He rules with righteousness and justice. He says He is the Resurrection and the Life – so we need not die in His rule. He says He is the Bread of Life – so we need not hunger any more in His rule. He says He is the Light of the World – so we need not experience darkness in His rule. He says He is the Gate – so we can have free access to our Father in His rule. He says He is the Good Shepherd – so we can be assured of nurturing and protection in His rule. He says He is the Way, Truth and the Life – so we need not stumble around with lies, mis-directions and the disaster that is death. He says He is the True Vine – so we can flourish in all fruitfulness in His rule.

This is great news!! Who on earth would want to satisfy themselves with the grim morsels of gossip and chew on the dreary fat of malice, when they can feast on this news of life to the full as they look and live?

It may not have worked out for my ambition to be a journalist as I hoped. Getting to deliver this good news, though, through the variety of means available from a chat in the local pub to a blog read around the world, from WhatsApp messages to telephone calls, it’s brilliant.

This is not a passing fad or a trend popular for the moment – this is the eternal truth. The good news remains the good news whether you choose to accept it or not, but it’s great when you get the chance to do it having heard it. So thank God for the feet of those blessed with the privilege of sharing the good news – our God reigns!

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Minister

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saying that can sound rather conceited in certain religious circles. Calling yourself a minister comes with certain expectations and perceptions derived a great deal from various traditions and cultures. So allow me to be clear in what I mean.

I am a servant of Jesus Christ.

My understanding of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ is to be His servant. Yeah, you’re His brother. Yeah you’re His friend. But yeah, you’re His servant. That means that I am His servant. I serve at His beck and call. As I said, however, that really should be the case for any follower of Jesus Christ. It’s unfortunate that the term has now been used to distinguish some followers from others almost as though some are servants where others are not. That distinction quite clearly isn’t the case in scripture. Members of the family of God which is the Body of Christ are implicitly called to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, it’s kind of in the term ‘Lord’. If He is the Lord that would suggest He has servants.

The amazing thing about this experience, however, is that our Lord is the Chief Servant. He is not calling us to do anything He Himself hasn’t done. When He tells us to forgive, it’s because He forgives. When He tells us to treat the least as though they are more important than us, it’s because in His ministry – His service – on earth the Creator of the Universe did just that. He tells us to serve only after He showed us what it is to serve. Likewise the point of being a member of the Body of Christ is that as servants of Christ we are called to serve each other. What makes the love we have so outstanding is when its expressed in the delight to serve each other. Then there’s the treasure and wonder that is serving the world around us. All of that serving is what it is to be a minister. There is no difference.

I had the great privilege of seeing the servant heart of being a minister personally in the form of my Dad. I saw this man diligently carry on serving others without looking for any praise or acknowledgement at all – primarily because he knew that in serving others He was serving the Lord and there is great delight in being pleasing to the Lord who did so much in serving you.

There was something that helped me tremendously when I ‘decided to follow Jesus’. The call to serve is not always obvious in certain religious circles especially if you expect to be served. You have turned up to a ‘service’ expecting to be served. You place a tag of ‘minister’ on someone and avoid it yourself and expect that ‘minister’ to serve you. Meanwhile other concepts of ‘minister’ is more like a boss who functions to give instructions to those who for whatever reason they feel should be serving them. It gets messy in a hurry.

This is why the example of our Lord is so inspirational and motivational just when it gets so tough to recognise and live up to that call to be a minister. To know He is not looking sternly over you as though you constantly disappoint Him, but actually is even willing to wash your feet in order to prepare you to run with the gospel that liberates you to serve. It is truly amazing. It in itself makes serving others more rewarding as you do it to Christ.

Unsurprisingly then, it’s one of my greatest delights to come across other followers of Jesus who embrace the call to serve. They don’t wait for ‘permission to serve’ seeing as though it was given at the time they were filled with the Spirit. They are then enabled to serve their family in the faith, their neighbourhood, their workplace, and the world around them in a variety of ways all because of what Jesus has done for them and recognising His Lordship over their lives, they willingbly submit to being His servant for the glory of the Father. I love it. It inspires me and challenges me to keep pursuing this natural flow of what it is to be a member of His family.

My name is Christopher Dryden. I am a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What Kind Of Man Are You? In Pursuit Of Peace

Peace or pride.

Among other terms of reference for Jesus is the Prince of Peace. This is helpful for those who follow Him as He went on to say that those who are peacemakers are likewise referred to as sons of God. Peace is a big deal to God.

The responsibility of man to look after the earth specifically by subduing it was to bring it to order, not let it get wild and loose and to best utilise the resources that would bring out the best in creation. He was called to make peace in the garden as its keeper. Enjoying and sustaining the wholeness experienced in the garden was the first call to be a peacemaker. Messing that up inevitably called for greater works of peace to take place. Not only were there the natural order to keep in check, now mankind had problems with themselves, namely their tendency to wreck peace.

You have heard it said that religion has caused a lot of wars. A lot of what’s wrong in the world is placed at the doorstep of the various religions and faiths that have cropped up over the years. There’s good reason for that claim too as people declare the need to go on conquests and crusades because that’s what God told them to do. It’s a useful construct until its dismantled.

When it is dismantled, the truth of the matter is that wars have happened because men have not craved for peace. Men may have used religion as a vehicle, but history shows that they just needed to have something in them to make them feel superior to the other. Men have just needed that feeling of being better than the other and slighted by the fact that the other person is around.

The same issue that caused man to tear away from fruitful and peaceful life with God is the same issue that causes man to see his neighbour as the enemy who needs to be conquered or crushed. It stems simple from pride.

Jesus lived a life free from pride because of His complete dependence on God. That made Him the best example possible of a peacemaker. Unsurprisingly, though, when men without peace saw a man living in peace and bringing it to others, that only evoked that sense of a threat and desire to wipe Him out. They crucified Him. They went onto to kill others who were a threat to the status quo by their desire to believe the Man of peace and usher in that peace in their actions in the world.

Peacemakers are a threat to pride.

They are a threat because they see the way of God is not seen by self-exaltation, but by everything and everyone being nourished and nurtured to blossom in their own way. The peacemaker in looking for the wellbeing of the other and not the self is a threat to the mentality that idolises the self above all things. The peacemaker in seeing that wholeness is the harmony and submissive interplay of all creation is a danger to the one that wants everything to be revolved around self-gratification.

Yet this peace is unstoppable. Even though they crucified the Prince of Peace, He rose triumphantly from the grave. Even though they shed the blood of the followers of this Prince, the blood merely inspired others to see the blessing in pursuing this peace. When Stephen asked God not to hold the sin against those stoning him, the gesture of peace and forgiveness in contrast to the violent brutality of apparent men of God was noted by one condoning the stoning. So when Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul that act of peacemaking among others may have influenced his own instruction to Timothy to make the pursuit of peace a dominating priority.

The pride in man does not want to pay the price for peace. The Prince of Peace not only was delighted to pay the price, His invitation to demolish pride is a gateway to establishing a peace that surpasses all understanding. Embracing this truth makes the pursuit of this peace a must for men who truly want to live up to that standard of real manhood set for them by the King of Glory who took on flesh and lived with us.

To see a world of peace requires the ongoing death to pride. This is a price worth paying to see what Jesus indicated in His many acts of peacemaking – a world where the Kingdom of heaven is seen on the earth ushered in by those who make peace.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What Kind Of Man Are You? In Pursuit Of Love

Love or fear.

Generosity as a characteristic is incredibly attractive. Something I’ve noticed is that generosity is not based on material goods. Some of the most generous people I have come across would not be classed as rich in most people’s eyes. Yet they were never in lack and hardly ever in a place of discontent even when circumstances looked tight. They were always desirous to give something especially if it was something as valuable as their time and attention for you.

The opposite quality is being stingy. There is something about that characteristic which has looked to hide itself behind terms such as ‘prudent’, ‘cautious’ and even in a highly presumptuous way ‘wise’. The stingy nature, however, requires a self-centred attitude. And an attitude based on ‘concern’ for what would happen if, then in the light of that ‘concern’, they rationalise that rather than giving and losing, they might as well keep.

That ‘concern’ is a disguise for fear. Fear that drives people to withdraw and withhold at just the time when the opposite is needed. Experience, however, reinforces those ‘concerns’. You give someone your trust and they betray it. You give someone your time and they effectively waste it. Not to mention what they do to your heart if they ever get that close to you. So, understandably, for safety reasons, it’s best, so we reason, not to give much away.

One of the compelling qualities of Christ is His love. This love brought Him into the lives of twelve men and He entrusted His life to them. So much so that one was close enough to betray Him. So much so that He even knew they would desert Him and yet He entrusted Himself to them, called them friends, washed their feet and modeled the kind of love worth pursuing. This kind of love was never deterred or rationalised away because of fear. It didn’t ignore fear either, it acknowledged the very presence of fear and overcame it because the darkness of fear could never overcome the light of love.

This model is also evident in the love that the disciples would have for each other. Persecution and opposition did not defeat it, it only let it spread to wider parts of the known world. People captured by this love began pursuing it and expressing it and found life so much more fulfilling in sharing and experiencing the blessing in giving rather than receiving.

Fear still looks to hold people in their grip ad as they withhold and withdraw. The tragedy continues to be that the more they withdraw and withhold, the more they shrivel and look to make the world around shrivel too. Living in fear is no life at all.

The life that Jesus offers is about a love that trusts and gives. He gives and broken lives are made whole by it. He gives and emptiness turns to overflowing by it. He gives and the oppressed are set free.

This is why this kind of love is worth pursuing, it’s the kind of thing worth making life all about, it’s just the kind of quality that should define a man.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What Kind Of Man Are You? In Pursuit Of Faith

Faith or sin.

It starts with a life that says I believe. The question then becomes I believe what?

The story of the Bible is one of God revealing Himself and His plans to humanity. It’s one in which the story of life is always made infinitely better when it’s lived in the light of knowing the one who gives us that life. Knowing – believing – trusting – investing all in the one who reveals Himself as the source.

Some people think that the great opponent to faith is fear. Others think that the opposite of faith is doubt. Interestingly what both have in common is the element introduced at the beginning that lead to the sad state of affairs that blights human experience. What I’m proposing is simply the opposite to faith is sin.

I say simply, but there’s a little more to it than that which helps us understand all the more what sin is and what it is to be in pursuit of faith. Sin entered the scene when humanity actively chose to listen to someone other than the Creator. Sin caused the fall of humanity when humanity actively chose to trust in someone other than God. Since then sin is the condition in which all humans are born into – it’s a state that is continually turning its back from ongoing trust, investment and belief in God for who He is.

Sure, when things get a bit dicey, then we will call out to God because we want Him to swoop to the rescue. Certainly if we are in desperate need then we will call out to a God who can help us in our time of need. In other words He’s great for times of convenience and desperation, but other than that we are more than content to go in our own direction, do our own thing.

This is not the basis on which God relates to humanity. The faithful God relates to humanity in being their Source – He is not just all that they need them to be – He is all they need to be. That is to say to truly be human we need Him – we need Him in a trusting and loving relationship, one in which He informs and shapes us and allows to realise life is not about being selfish and seeking our own thing and our own way. We need Him to be.

Throughout scripture, God has invited people to walk with Him and discover more of what this life is like. Those journeys, stories and relationships are marked by God doing wondrous works in the lives of people but also those people seeing beyond the acts and delighting in knowing the Creator for themselves.

This is the beauty in the outline of the life of faith – it is not about looking for a genie to grant them infinite wishes. It is a journey to discovering that what is of the greatest value of all is knowing God. That’s why He is a rewarder of those that diligently search for Him. It’s even witnessed when God affirms His connection with the father of faith, Abraham with these amazing words.

Men in pursuit of faith are men in pursuit of an ever deeper trust and ever richer valuing of the right relationship with God available by grace. They like Abraham grow to see God not as something for convenience, they see in Him the greatest reward possible in life. In the light of this understanding there is a desire to love Him, there’s a desire to serve Him, there’s a desire to know Him and to know, love and desire Him gives a completely different view on sin.

Sin – whether expressed in fear, lust, pride, doubt or however else – is seen for just how gross, detestable and abhorrent it is. And that’s all sin. It’s viewed that way because of what it threatens to do to our relationship with the one of greatest value. It’s not just a revulsion because of sensibility, it’s the outcry of a heart that sees how the sweet communion we can have with God can be tainted or shattered by entertaining sin in any of its guises.

This is why men of faith grow in learning what it is to be pleasing to the Father. This is why men of faith have their eyes set on walking in the light of the love of God and the relationship they have with Him. This is why men of faith cherish their relationship with the holy one and so live holy lives that reflect Him. That’s why men of faith adore their relationship with the merciful one ad so live merciful lives that reflect Him. That’s why men of faith rejoice in their relationship with the gracious one and so live gracious lives to reflect Him.

This is why Paul is keen for Timothy to run away from evil youthful desires – all marked by sin. These lead to disaster and ruin. This is why Paul is keen for Paul to be ever running to faith, pursuing the faithful life, chasing wholeheartedly to be known as one who walks by faith and not by sight. That’s not just Paul’s desire for Timothy.

It’s the Father’s desire to be able to say that’s the kind of man you are.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden