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 108 – Ways to Win the Warfare

We were playing a board game. I wasn’t doing so well, but being the peace loving and peace making sort that I am, I merely proclaimed that I would vanquish them all anyway because God was on my side. Obviously in the light of such bold proclamations I finished up in last place. 

The Bible has violence and has a stream of military and conflict language throughout. It is unavoidable. The man after God’s own heart was a man marked by military exploits. It’s no surprise then that there’s a Psalm that goes from the place of praise to the place of conflict. Unsurprisingly, some will jump on this as corroboration for a bloodthirsty God. Others will cling to this as reason to claim is on their side in their own conflict – and it does not have to be military at all. 

What’s often missing in these thoughts and proclamation is the relationship that underpins everything. Hearing what God has to say on a matter is pivotal in this Psalm. Knowing this Word in the context of His plans for His people I’d critical. Understanding His heart in these affairs is the engine driving the action. 

By the time we reach the exultant climax of the piece, this is not reason for us to hope that God will get rid of a boss we don’t like or help us in warfare against another country. This is about what God wants triumphing over all who oppose it. That should lead us to wonder what God really wants. That should prompt us to explore a relationship with Him to really know Him, love Him for His beauty, wonder, holiness and righteousness. 

That way we  can flow from the place of praise to the purpose He has for us to see His Kingdom come and will done on earth as it is in heaven. A purpose that sees His enemies conquered even as they were on the cross, in the grave, in the empty tomb and in an exalted Saviour at the right hand of the Father. 

It will also stop us from thinking it will give us the win in a board game. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

December Thanks #23: Food 

There are few physical experiences more satisfying than that of the sensations received on the completion of a great meal.

My upbringing instilled a great respect for engaging with the plate of food set before us and finishing every part of the meal. Leftovers were rare. That was usually because the meal that was prepared would be a sumptuous one. This was not because my family were cash rich and so brought in the best possible foods available. It was down to my Mum exercising her God-given gift of turning anything at her disposal in the kitchen into an unforgettable mouthwatering feast.

Unsurprisingly, I grew up with a large appetite and a great appreciation for meals prepared and presented well.

Nowadays not only is there great pleasure in enjoying that meal, there is even greater delight at sharing that experience with family and friends. The role meals have played in establishing and deepening relationships has been a powerful experience. It really is a great way to serve and honour others and setting the environment to be open and engaging on a wide range of issues.

These experiences have not just proven to be food for thought. They have shown again the value in celebrating Jesus as the daily bread and sharing Him with others over such great things as that sumptuous meal. I am forever grateful for that.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #16: Church

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(HT: Tim Marshall Photography)

My parents nurtured me in a church environment. I know of other environments like work and school, but the church one is something I was familiar with. As a human collective, it is something with good points and bad. The thing about church, however, is what has been written about it from its Creator.

When I got into reading about church into my late teens and taking it even more seriously as I got older, I left myself open to great disappointment when that human collective failed to match the aspirations written about it. It is at these times that I have been grateful for the writings of guys like Alan Knox, Eric Carpenter and Frank Viola about the church both as seen in scripture and as can be experienced in real life. Their insightful writing among others has kept my hope for church. It was important to do that because a lot of my actual experience of church went beyond frustration to points of despair.

This year in particular has seen the good and bad aspects of church emerging in a more prevalent manner and got me on the verge of giving up on church altogether. Why I am particularly grateful for church, though, are for those individuals who help remind me that church is not about me, it’s about being a part of the story of God. Being a witness and recipient of the amazing love of God, the channel He has given to express that is through His idea of church. My entire growth in Christ is supposed to be in the context of Christian community.

In as much as I have often wanted to walk away from it, this year has opened me up to some amazing believers who have allowed me to connect with them. Those new opportunities as well as some of the highly valued other relationships has been an inspiration to me in revealing the character of Christ and challenging me to grow deeper in Him and share that love.

So many individuals I can thank for this year helping me love the church more than I have before. I know if I started then there would be someone over the year I would forget. There are those, though, who by simply sharing the Christ in them have stirred me to pursue more of Christ to be found in His Body. For that I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

CD Songs: Real With U by Tonex

This is an inspired tune. The whole point of being in the light is to be able to have every part of life available. No need to cover anything up and play games. 

The first place that starts is the relationship between God and I. Developing that ability to be vulnerable, honest and transparent is great. Maintaining that is down better. 

There may be some who have a problem with the artist who produced and performed this track. That is sad. Misses the point of the song and in some cases displays the sort of attitude that prevents others being free to be real with God and each other. It’s not about condoning sin, it’s about rejoicing in the grace that comes alongside us and allows us to express that authenticity. Enjoy. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Ongoing Quest for Authentic Christian Fellowship 

Authenticity is at the very heart of intimacy with God and each other. It’s also the hardest thing to consistently practice because of the tendency to play a role.

Notice the quest is not for Christian perfection or everything being right doctrinally. It is to come across authentic Christian fellowship. This is not to suggest I have not had the experience before. In fact it’s exactly because there have been those experiences, why I am so eager to embrace it again.

What stops that happening is manifold. Sometimes it’s an individual reluctance to operate at that level of authenticity. Sometimes the pattern of the leadership doesn’t encourage that level of behaviour. Sometimes the church culture promotes the playing of a role often (ab)using terms such as being ‘spiritual’ and ‘protocol’ to justify a behaviour that stifles authenticity. These are just some of the factors that make such experiences so rare. Yet those rarities are exactly the relationship God wants with us and to that end His Spirit has imbued us with the characteristics necessary to make it a reality. It’s for us to revisit what kind of love Jesus wants us to display and use that as well as our ever deepening relationship with the Lord to inform us how we can make progress in this noble quest.

The call to be set free is sometimes allowing people to live in the liberty the Spirit gives to stop playing roles and learn to live with authenticity.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Team: Serving Each Other, Serving Together

One thing that bothers me about ministries named after an individual is the impression it gives that the whole offer of service is based around one person. The concern I have is that it doesn’t reveal something beatuiful about ministry. That beautiful thing is how we can serve together.

We can serve together and serve each other as we serve together too. For example, recently a group of about seven of us were praying together and someone shared an insight. It was a powerful insight about intensity and it left a lot of us duly stimulated and motivated in our ongoing desire to know Jesus. Someone else at the same time got something but were unsure if they wereto share it at that time. That person connected with someone else in the team and got the assurance and encouragement to share what they had. As it transpired that word built on what had been said earlier and blended in beautifully with other words that had been shared in time past. Those words propelled us to greater service and desire to help others discover more of the love of God in the world.

If there was an individual whose name was getting any kudos at all, that individual would have been Jesus Christ. No one else was looking to get credit and acclaim at all because there was a conscious awareness that we’re in this Kingdom endeavour together. That story spurred others on to serve each other as we serve together so that the name can get all the kudos for the life change still being brought about because He is real.

It’s that approach to serving that I find hugely endearing. It’s why I love spending time with these people who intentionally go about developing team ministry. It’s a pattern I know those looking on can learn from and feel more comfortable thinking about terms like ‘ministry’ and ‘service’. It doesn’t have to have the grandiose connotations some attach to it with corresponding heavy burdens. It can be playing their key role in what we’re called to do together.

After all Jesus is expressed in how we do life together.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden