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

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

Faithful to the Mission

When I am asked to do something within my strengths and in line with my passions there is something about me that gets tunnel visioned. It’s as if I block everything out except endeavouring to excel in that area. It can be remarkably useful and also remarkably off-putting to others. As well as that, however, in time past I have placed a great deal of pressure on myself during and after the activity.

It’s not unusual for me to be heavily morose afterwards and needing to be left on my own to recover from that activity. Go ahead, say it, “That’s weird, CD.” It was the way it was for me for a long time. In some ways it worked, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a way of engaging with the things you love and look to use for the benefit of others.

One massive thing that has changed for me in recent years is a more considered approach to the whole process. My favourite time in that process continues to be the preparation stages. What I am learning to appreciate all the more is how important God wants me to see the need to rest in Him throughout the entire process, not just the preparation. That is something that helps me truly endeavour to trust God all the more through everything.

What that has also made me aware of is how great it is feeling I was faithful to the mission. Doing what needed to be done in the way it should have been done and leaving it there. Leaving it with God, who after all initiated the mission, so is more than able to see that mission accomplished for His honour and glory. It’s really just to enjoy the privilege of playing a role in that process.

It doesn’t negate the benefits of reflection and reviewing things. It just saves those around me the time having to deal with the hours of me being morose. The bigger picture is as well it keeps the focus on what matters – the mission.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

A Word On A Great Servant

Her children know it, her friends know it and if nobody else knows it for sure, her husband knows it.

She doesn’t have to say she is devoted to others, her actions speak loudly for themselves. Staying behind when others have left, stepping in when people drop out, persisting in the jobs that puts folks off, she is a great example to those around her of the heart of a good servant.

I am so blessed that this woman, who celebrated another year on God’s green earth, is my wife.

Long may she be an example of committed friend and devoted servant of the Lord.

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

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