It’s Admirable

Imagine that you and I are seated in the front room. We’re in those couches are armchairs designed to help you relax. Whatever refreshments we want are on the coffee table in the middle of the room, but we can just sit back and feel comfortable whilst some steady and smooth music plays in the background.

There’s no hassle and no rush, we can just enjoy each other’s company. So you ask me what in life do I find admirable. I smirk. You know you asked the right question as you see the smirk broaden into the familiar grin for which one or two people have found as much a part of me as my name. I love the question and you see the love across my face as my eyes close and I drink in the question to breathe out this answer.

I admire: Consistency and longevity. My parents have been married for over 40 years, which is a considerable feat when you consider the age my Dad got married. They have been by each other’s side supporting each other and loving each other in all circumstances. Their love for each other has poured itself into the lives of their onlooking children who have benefited from the relentless consistency and faithfulness our parents showed to each other and to us. I admire that consistency and longevity.

I admire: Passionate people passionately pursuing their passions whenever and wherever they can. This life can be stifling if it’s left to a mundane routine of living to get enough money to get enough mod-cons to just shuffle from one meaningless leisure activity to another. That’s why I love those people who have a passion for something and pursue it with all their heart. My friend loves his poetry, loves his battle rap, loves his creative communication and whenever the time affords him he is immersed in those passions and I find it so admirable. If you’re going to live you might as well live with passion worth pursuing. The kind of thing is hugely indicative of the kind of approach I look to take when it comes to Kingdom matters – so it’s a blessing to see examples of that in action.

I admire: The love of my wife. It never ceases to amaze me how she has just remained devoted to the marriage and to the reality of God granting the union and able to sustain it. We haven’t reached 20 years together yet, let alone the 40+ that my parents have hit, but her loyalty, her faithfulness, her devotion, her commitment, her investment, her encouragement, her faith, her resourcefulness, her prayers, her integrity, her strength of character, her vulnerability, her honesty, her beauty – I observe all of that and to think that she still actively chooses to invest those in the direction of the most precious union humans face this side of eternity in me is … well it’s admirable. I applaud her to her face and I love to applaud her behind her back like on blog entries and stuff.

I admire: Great music, good football, delicious food, intriguing reading material and gripping storytelling. All of these are the fruits of significant investment in creative outlets and I love to admire those kind of things. I appreciate more and more that these products are not always guaranteed and there is a plethora of average to garbage material that I could wade through and endure. Yet it’s worthwhile when I come a creative piece of work that hits that sweet spot.

I admire: People taking a stand for justice and righteousness. Not following the trends of the day or looking to be popular to gain attention – they just see the example of Jesus and see the need to be peacemakers which often requires taking a stand. The bravery and courage it calls for as well as a selflessness to see Kingdom values as being of far greater worth than any earthly desires – witnessing this in ways that won’t grab people’s attention but is no less significant in the larger scheme of things is humbling.

That’s what I would open up with to consider the things that are admirable and worth thinking on. That would be my offering in our comfortable front room encounter.

What do you find admirable? (And don’t stop me from letting you grab another cup of that beverage you love while you share.)

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Appreciating Other Perspectives and the Indefensible

I can imagine it can be a thankless task – Being a defence lawyer when  the person being defended is definitely guilty.

That cannot be a job you can do and sleep that well at night unless you have set up some strong coping mechanisms. Ones like saying you are performing an important part of the judicial system that gives everyone the right to legal support. There could be a sense in which you feel that as long as you play your part in offering the best defence possible, then it’s really down to others to effect true justice. Whatever the argument, that’s a tough gig, especially when it comes to the more heinous of crimes.

Some would think that being part of such a system as somewhat indefensible.

What is indefensible?

That question  becomes more pertinent when you are given the opportunity to consider another person’s perspective. Spend a little time seeing things from the other person’s point of view, or better still just taking yourself out of your own view and seeing alternatives.

I have a good friend who consistently provides another perspective. He doesn’t do it to be awkward or contrary at all – in fact his appreciation of the alternative viewpoint makes our conversations better informed and stops me from rushing to a conclusion. He is great for me in that sense.

Even he, however, would suggest that there is a time when alternative viewpoints do not cover that which is indefensible. He has a standard in mind that makes something truly indefensible.

Is there a standard that can be applied to all? Who decides that standard?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 149 – Call To Praise … And … 

Here’s a good Psalm to pay attention to carefully. 

Reasons to praise God? Sure, they are there and offer strong encouragement for the readers to remember how great God is and what He does for His people. It’s all going well and then … 

“Two-edged swords … execute vengeance … punishments … bind with fetters … judgment … ” One or two folks pick up words like that and get to thinking of bloodthirsty and violent religion again. Giving permission for folks to get happy putting people forcefully in their place. 

This misses the point of the Psalm. Misses it quite significantly. Honour on God’s people is for those who are keen to see put in action godly justice. Godly justice that deals with those who oppress others and give licence to iniquity and inequity subjecting others to misery. How this is done is always lead by God Himself. Indeed how this is practiced properly is always lead and shown by God. That’s why praise is the basis for activities of justice. 

Praise reminds us that we are subject to the ultimate authority who rules wisely and with fairness, especially to the meek and humble who put their trust in Him. That’s not a bloodthirsty solution, that’s a peacemaking practice in line with the Word of God. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 140 – What Justice Demands


Conversing with God brings with it certain appeals that can be made to His character. 

The Psalmist can make a request that some might be uncomfortable with in regards to his enemies. He can make this request not based on his own merits, but because of who God is. No, not a bloodthirsty violent sort who relishes in violent means to achieve His ends. No that is not the God the Psalmist appeals to. He appeals to the good God of righteousness and justice. The appeal he makes is for protection and is for God to exercise justice. 

Consider how justice in our world operates. Good flourishes when evil is overcome just as darkness is defeated in the presence of light. The appeal for justice, is that appeal that when surrounded by the forces of darkness and evil, God Himself will deal with them. Our rescuer and Saviour will come to the rescue and save us from those who desire to perpetrate evil and darkness. 

Today, I am grateful to be aware of the God of Justice. Something has to be done about evil and injustice in the world. Someone needs to do something about it. I am not calling on people to die, but I am calling for the greatness of God to once again overwhelm the forces that oppose Him. Looking to the Holy One for justice is the best place to appeal for it. As we likewise do so, we can be assured that He will do what’s right and what’s good. While He is doing that, we can endeavour to follow in the way of righteousness and justice, so we won’t fall foul of the very God we appealed to. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 110 – We Need A… 

The Psalmist sees something. He sees someone. Someone he knows his audience needs. Not just a swashbuckling hero, not a muscle bound strongman. 

It requires a ruler who will exercise righteousness and justice. It requires a priest to meditate the peace. It requires a judge to dispel the wickedness and apply the cause for the marginalised. 

The Psalmist sees him. He celebrates the Father for him.

Do you see him? 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 109 – Sort Them Out, God 

It should be apparent by this stage in the collection that the Psalms covers a wide range of human experience and emotion. It is not there to just be pretty in praising and saying how beautiful God is. Sometimes it’s raw and brutal. This Psalm is one of them. 

From the start we are aware of the travails that the Psalmist is going through, but it is his response to his hardship that should arrest us in our tracks. For the grief and evil he has endured for no reason at all from those who He extended friendship to, the writer is clear what should happen to them and it is fairly forceful consequences – death and misery before it. For such great pain caused, great pain should be their lot. It is a far cry from someone looking for forgiveness whilst suffering on a cross. Yet before we decry the message in the Psalm, there are two things to remember. 

Firstly, this Psalm is referenced by Peter when it comes to time to replace Judas as the twelfth Apostle (Acts 1:20). That would give credence to the place of such outpouring for the fate of a traitor. (That’s not permission to go looking for hurt for those who betrayed you.) Secondly, Jesus Himself wasn’t backwards in coming to the point of what would happen to the one who would betray Him (Matthew 26:24). So the same Jesus that forgives does not let the wicked go unpunished. 

Therein lies a good place to take a stand even as the Psalmist does at the end of the piece. His desire is to be in a position of praise to the assembling of the saints because God will rescue him – which is the pressing issue and meanwhile God can be trusted to deal with the wicked, whatever contributions we may want to give God in advising Him how to sort them out. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 101: Singing Out For Justice 

This Psalm is not backward in coming forward. 

Sure, there are times to sing of beauty, wonder and grace. There is a time to sing of peace, sweetness and all things pleasant. That’s all good. That has its place. There is also evidently a time for us to sing about the things that matter to God. Be in no doubt in as much as His mercies endure that does not mean He is going to let the unfair, wicked and proud get away with their evil. The passion of this Psalm is palpable and challenges us as to whether the deal about justice is as close to our hearts as it flows through our actions as it clearly is to God. 

Hear the ferocity as those who do evil and are evil are summarily dismissed from God’s very presence. Consider the strong language to declare evocatively what happens to those who slanders, who are haughty, arrogant, deceitful and full of lies. There is a clear line between being merciful on one hand and tolerating the stench of iniquity in its various forms subtle and blatant. The Psalmist reflects the zero tolerance policy God has on such behaviours and attitudes. 

Sharing those qualities challenges us to share that commitment to walk with integrity. That aspect of character that is consistent and is fair, right and just whether one is observed or not. This is done not for the attention of men, but because that is what someone is when reflecting God. 

That challenge is something worth singing about as well as the lovely sentiments to a beautiful Saviour. Not just singing about them, either … 

Think on these things. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden