How Do You Mourn Well?

A few of us have been making our way through the Beatitudes. To go through any study at all, I am grateful I have some prayer support. What I enjoy about the prayer support is the one I get from one of my favourite people on the planet at the moment. I love this brother so much and he has a superb way of just bringing godly calm and peace to any situation.

So, I explained the plan to him, and he duly prayed for God to be glorified in the study that followed. In our conversation I shared my desire that the study would help those going through it to see the role that mourning should play in the life of the believer. As it transpired, the next day my good friend suffered a loss in his family. It brought matters home to me about the issue of mourning.

It was significant as well considering the exploration the few of us made in the issue of mourning. I love it when people question the Bible – not in an accusatory fashion, in a genuine wondering why fashion. We looked at the people of Israel’s response to the death of Moses and how the record stated that the people mourned his passing for 30 days. Someone wondered, “Why did they spend that much tie mourning over him? Surely not all of the people mourned for that long. I mean I can imagine a lot did for a while, but all the people, for that length of time? Why?”

Exploring issues like that got us to appreciate why mourning individually and corporately is important. It was also cool to address how Christians mourn too, because there was reference made to what Paul of Tarsus suggested that believers should mourn differently to others. That didn’t mean that there shouldn’t be mourning, though, because when Stephen died there was mourning by godly men for a godly man.

All those issues came together in a big challenge to me again about what it is to mourn well. It feels as if in this day and age nothing is really given to help with mourning should look like. I am not by any means suggesting there is a one suit fits all approach to to mourning, but there is something that surely we can learn from history and from others as to what it is to really mourn.

So how do you mourn well?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Words to Build

There was this prayer meeting I took part in and one of the thoughts that emerged from it was how important it was to use our words to build others. We were reminded of what Paul said to the church in Ephesus about communication.

The verse has been used by some to condemn swearing. I can see where they’re coming from, but it is a lot more than just prohibiting curse words. It’s an active invitation to consider what we’re using our words for. It’s tragic to hear some use their words in an attempt to bring down others, either in anger, in malice or in gossip. No swear words are used at all and sometimes some very pious and religious terms are used in conversations that appear well meaning but are just a front for the sort of corrupting communication Paul writes about.

It is my honour to be around people who bring out the blessings in the other part of Paul’s instruction. They stir me to practice using my words to build. They challenge me on this because there is a need. A need for the constructive. As they face new challenges – they need the constructive. As they face current challenges – they need the constructive. As they go through seasons of uncertainty – they need the constructive.

They need it and the same God who speaks the constructive in us, can use us to speak the constructive in others. It’s not about being cheerleaders all the time, the constructive isn’t about flattery or being charming. It’s about being substantial in encouraging the same to those who need it. There’s so much of it we can do if we remain focused on dwelling and meditating on the true, noble, right, pure, excellent, admirable and praiseworthy – something Paul encouraged the church in Philippi to practice.

I am a beneficiary of those who speak constructively on my life and certainly know it’s well worth pursuing in practice.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Holy Habits: Prayer

A group of us met recently to look at the issue of prayer.

A simple question was asked as to what was the stereotypical perspective on prayer. In the group was a range of ages from the very young to the not so very young and the responses that came back were to be expected. Close your eyes, hands together, heads bowed – that kind of thing.

From there my friend got us to do a variety of activities exploring prayer as it can be experienced in so many different ways, from contemplative prayer, to seeing reasons to be grateful as the springboard of prayer. It was a brilliant experience for me and to see others even engaging in food and prayer as well was delightful.

With all that, it got me thinking about why prayer is such an essential part of the Christian life. It also got me thinking of its connection with the holiness God looks for in those who follow Jesus. There is little doubt in my mind that prayer is essential. What does it do though in terms of helping as a holy habit?

Praise definitely helps here – it reminds me of who I am communicating with and it reassures me that there is no better place to go to communicate – to open myself and to be authentic than in prayer. The invitation to cast my cares on Him because He cares for me is one that I have benefited from time and time again.

There is more to it than that. I get it that in this age of therapy and self-esteem it’s good to have a method by which the self can be cleansed and that kind of thing. Yet prayer is a two way communication where it is just as much about finding the heart of God and communicating with Him on His terms and conditions as unburdening the self. Prayer connects again with the Creator, the Father Himself who delights in communicating with His children. I get to meditate on His plans, His desires, His mission for the world and again consider life from a heavenly perspective. It’s very easy to get hung up on personal relationships, finances and job concerns as though that’s all there is to life. Being invited to follow Jesus is an invitation to follow Him in His mission to the world whether from the family and work to further afield wherever He leads.

Prayer aligns things so that even in my greatest struggles as I pour them out to Jesus, there is the acknowledgement of the grace to live as He wants me to live. A life that is not about sticking to conventional methods of expression to pander to others. A life that is about seeing how Jesus was not corrupted by the world but remained pure and was eager to transmit those qualities to others should motivate those who love Him to do the same. That takes place through the privilege of prayer, especially as it becomes more habitual, as we relate with God and see the conversation can change us to be more like Him.

I recommend prayer as a holy habit for you.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Pouring Out …

I love small gatherings of believers. Sure large gatherings have their place and I am sure people enjoy that. I love small gatherings.

Among the many things I love is how those gatherings can be prime ground for relationships to blossom simply by giving space for people to pour into each other. We respect each other and honour each other by giving space for each other to pour into each other. That does not always happen in small gathering. It’s not always typical, but it’s something that I have experienced and benefitted significantly from.

Broken people opening up on their brokenness and not finding people preaching at them or quietly dismissing them. Older people submitting to listening to younger people and vice-versa in a setting of honesty and grace. It’s brilliant. There is no main speaker. There is no star of the show. There is no one looking to be the centre of attention, because there’s an understanding that people will pay attention right where you are, even if you are on the margins.

All of those things I have had the honour to experience in those settings. That degree of looking to be a blessing by being yourself as you discover that with Jesus is such a beautiful thing.

Pouring into others for their healing, for their development, for letting out what’s been bubbling in, for the chance for others to have something to pour into someone else for their healing and development.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Over a Drink

Some people nurse their glass or their cup. It’s as though as they care for the circumference of the vessel as a reflection of the care they want to be held in concerning key issues in their lives.

Maybe if the conversation is nurtured as much as the glass or the cup, who knows what will flow as a result …

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Stop, Look and Listen

When I was just a little boy there was a campaign to promote safety for pedestrians crossing the road and it had a jingle that mentioned the three ways in the blog title. I remember the jingle, so I remember the phrase. I even remember what the drive of the campaign.

It’s good to know a few years later that the advice is just as necessary now as it was then and not just before crossing a road safely.

Not only is there a rush to get this, that and the other done. There is a relentless drive of routine and ritual. It must be done, but never questioned. It just must be done. It has always been done, there is safety in the regularity of it being done as opposed to the threat of the unknown when doing something different.

We get sucked in and before long it’s just the norm. It’s just what we do. There is little thought about alternatives. We just keep on going and keep on doing what has always been done.

Thankfully the grace of God will invite us to stop. There’s a day in the week given to stop. There are times in the day given to stop (not just sleep). That invitation to stop is a great mercy when we take advantage to do just that.

As we stop, the next invitation is to look. What a wonderful invitation – look back on what has been done even as the creation narrative shows God often looking at what was done. As we stop we can review, reflect and be refreshed by what has taken place. But not just look back, but look around. Take in the now. Observe the present. Behold the current surroundings. Not just drink all that in, but then look ahead at what things might be, what path is ahead even for the next step. All this observing is done after we stop. There’s no need to be active doing all the time. Creation is around to observe and joining God on His mission has opportunities to look as well.

Yet in all the observations having stopped, there is also a chance to listen. It is so difficult to truly listen because it is not about the self, it is about what is beyond the self. If we were to submit to truly listening there is much that could be really helpful for us and others. If we pay attention and listen, there is a voice calling. There is a voice engaging and inviting us to deeper relationships, deeper intimacy, deeper joy in knowing and that being the spring from which all other action can take place.

This isn’t about navel gazing and being introspective for the sake of being deep, profound but ultimately pointless. This is wisdom to see how love in doing is connected in love in being that is defined by a relationship with God that often sees Him invites you to stop, look and listen to His heart to hear what He’s saying.

Following what He says in those moments can allow us to enjoy the fullness of life found only in Him.

(Photos: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Walking With …

That’s quite a trek.

Plenty of twists and turns on the path and it doesn’t look like there is any safety on either side of the path. One false step could lead to harm or worse.

So for a journey like this it’s good to know it doesn’t need to be done alone. When that is said, some refer to the fact that at least the Way is with them highlighting the Truth in terms of the steps to take to Life.

This is a reassuring reality. Yet there is also the opportunity to travel with others. Like-minded pilgrims who appreciate that this journey cannot be accomplished alone. Like-minded travellers who have progressed because they realise the key is to make it together. They realise that if one should slip, another will be there to keep them from falling. The other will be there to restore and refresh. Together they can challenge each other to progress and keep going even when fatigue sets in, even when others give up.

It’s good to know it will be a case of walking with …

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden