No Compromise: You Ain’t Bowing 

If I were to challenge some to think of a time in scripture when people were told to bow and some resisted, one of the first incidents people would refer to, would be the occasion when Daniel’s three friends – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah – refused to bow to the image of Nebuchadnezzar. It is a classic episode of peaceful civil disobedience. 

I was struck recently, however, by another episode of non-compliance. Arguably the most influential figure in the book of Esther is her uncle Mordecai. He does a great job with his niece and he is strategically located throughout the story. It is his act of defiance that also leads to something greater emerging for the people of God even though it takes the threat of state-sponsored genocide to bring it about. It didn’t have to happen this way, but it was all about Mordecai refusing to bow to the recently promoted Haman. 

What’s fascinating about this act of civil disobedience from Mordecai is that he was breaking the law. The King had decreed that folks pay due homage to the new guy at the top. Haman was well within his rights to expect it from everyone – including this geezer who blatantly refused to comply. The book of Esther is renowned for not having the word God mentioned in it at all, but God is so prominent in the piece there is no way of getting it without getting the God of Israel. That is first pronounced by this act of rebellion by Mordecai. Is he refusing to bow because he doesn’t like Haman? That’s not implicit in this at all. 

Mordecai literally takes a stand on this issue because he knows, other than paying due respect to the King, he bows to no one. He knows who he is and he won’t compromise that stance. 

When you know who you are that emerges at times when folks and situations expect you to bow before them. They expect you to bow because they think they are greater than you and it’s about time you recognised that. They expect you to bow because they think they are worth considerably more than you, so it’s about time you recognised that. They expect you to bow because they think they have the backing to demand it, so it’s about time you recognised that. 

When you know who you are and whose you are, others might bow and urge you to do the same. Well meaning folks who assure you it doesn’t mean anything will encourage you just to ‘play the game’ and give them what they want. When you know who you are and whose you are, you will hear through all of that and still refuse to bow. It’s nothing personal, it is everything spiritual. You know you will take a stand because of righteousness. You know you will take a stand because you know to whom reverence is truly due. You will take a stand because there are times deliberately set up to provoke the real you to emerge and inform the earthly powers that you serve a greater cause, that you bow before the Almighty alone. You take a stand because you know what it is to give to Caesar what belongs to him, and give God what belongs to Him. 

You take a stand at the risk of losing everything. You take a stand even when others won’t stand with you. You take a stand when those close to you edge away from the resulting flak. You take a stand knowing that you are never alone in that stand, for your stand expresses devotion and commitment to the one true and living God. 

It will not be easy. It will be tough especially when they look to increase the pressure and even look to hurt your nearest and dearest. In it all and through it all, God teaches you to trust Him – no compromise, He has your back. Through it all God teaches you to seek Him – no compromise, He will make a way. Through it all God teaches you to worship Him – no compromise, He will get the glory from the situation. 

It is in these experiences of taking a stand against the norm for the sake of righteousness that you see you emerge. You see you emerge as the character of Christ – who did not compromise and did not bow – meekly, graciously and faithfully shines through. Sure we would prefer it if it wasn’t so costly, but in the light of what we see in God, that cost is more than worth it. 

It’s worth it to see God come through in such great ways. It’s worth it to know that your stand for God is not in vain. It’s worth it to know that your stand today will  influence generations to come. It’s worth it to know your stand for God, as dedicated to God and inspired by Him is pleasing to Him. 

It’s worth it as you emerge to know that you know when it comes to it God is developing the character of fortitude that says when it comes right down to it – you’re gonna take a stand – you ain’t gonna bow. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

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Psalm 147 – In Awe


I had the great privilege of being on a road trip with some saints. As the sun set and night settled in, rather than snoozing off after an exhausting day, those saints saw it fit to sing songs to God. There were songs of adoration, songs of praise, songs proclaiming the wonders of God. 

In His wisdom, God saw it fit to see the completion of the road trip rounded off with the reading of this Psalm. From the encouragement to praise God to the various reasons why it was incredible to hear how our time of worship in song chimed so well with the ethos of this Psalm seeing God in His splendour for all the marvellous things He has done, is doing and will do. 

Particularly fitting to be reminded that God isn’t hung up on the prowess of the warrior, but He takes delight of those who live in awe of Him. It’s the right response to such a glorious God. Nothing else is worth placing effort and trust. Nothing and no one else. When we consider His nature and His works, understandably, we worship Him. 

I love it when I get to have experiences like that and recognise how privileged I am to be around saints who effortlessly put in practice what the Word prescribes. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 135 – Great God, Great Track Record

There is a chant that is sometimes used in football games that suggests that a striker of a greater quality ‘scores when he wants’. That degree of acknowledging brilliance in doing whatever he wants can also be attributed to the Creator of the Universe.

God, though, does not need to give you His CV to earn your approval.

This Psalm, however, does a great job of outlining great reasons why it’s worthwhile applying the worship that is integral to human existence in the right place.

Among the many great reasons here is to establish again the key advantage God has over all pretenders – He is living, omnipotent and glorious in engaging with His people. It’s a stinging jab to hear the Psalmist contrast this with the pretenders who may well have been crafted to have senses, but are actually senseless and those who devote worship to them will end up the same way.

The Psalmist refers to idols made of silver and gold in his era. These days the idols take on forms and shapes a bit different to those days, but nonetheless are equally senseless as objects of worship and lead to similarly senseless outcomes for those who devote time, energies and thoughts to them.

It’s worth considering the greatness of God. It’s worth looking at His greatness in creation, in His acts of salvation, in His deeds of restoration, in His works that established His people that were once not a people. Just considering His greatness and His great kindness to mankind is something that makes it all the more compelling to take on the Psalmist’s encouragement to praise Him.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 134 – The Night Watch


I appreciate scripture for what it says and what it means from the writer at the time.

This Psalm is written at a time when there was a temple and there would be priests who would serve in the temple in the night. It’s great that the Psalmist wants these servants to be encouraged in their work and worship. Beautiful to see this encouragement also ending with the call for a blessing on their efforts from the one who they are serving.

It’s all good. It’s all beautiful.

Though others may want to make a case for architectural structures being the modern equivalent of the temple and thus the same reverence for the structure as there was for the temple, there is something about the entire biblical narrative that suggests that God had something even greater in mind.

So as I think about serving in the night, I think of those who serve the living temple of God today in those night hours. Earnestly praying, counselling, making contact, being present, offering hospitality, being a light in the literal dark world. Lifestyles of worship, all in honour to the Most High God, all done in those twilight hours where others are pursuing less noble pursuits.

I trust those saints who offer such support are likewise blessed by the Creator of the universe.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 118 – You Have Become My Salvation 

To be honest with you, different Psalms bring out different responses in me. Some are interesting, some are challenging, some take a while to grab my interest, some are heart-wrenching. 

This Psalm, however, evoked such a wild reaction in me I could not hold back the tears of adoration and acclamation to the Lord who has become my salvation. Reading of how the Psalmist was about to give up but God strengthened him and he enjoyed cutting down the enemy around him was deeply profound and inspirational. 

My enemies are not people from warring sides, they are the fears and anxieties, they are the pride and smug satisfaction, they are spiritual forces that look to discourage, distract and depress me. They have sought to kill me for years and have only intensified. But they are cut down in the name of the Lord. They are cut down every time they rise up because God has become my salvation. No wonder it’s worth our praise and adoration. No wonder the Lord’s doing is marvellous in our eyes. 

I couldn’t go through this Psalm without massive praises to God and I certainly have a greater and deeper appreciation for this Psalm than ever before. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 115 – Dead vs the Living

The collection of Psalms has many reasons why it makes sense to spend life praising God. This particular Psalm highlights a reason by exercising comparison. 

Man-made idols for worship is a ridiculous notion for two reasons. Firstly, man worshipping something he made really is daft in itself. Secondly, as the Psalmist astutely notes, so much adulation and attention is given to it that eventually the worshippers become like it. Indeed they become like it being dead losing all capacity to talk, hear, move and sense what is around. Referring to the man made for a point of worship is literally a dead end. 

The contrast is on when considering the Almighty, the God of Creation. He gave us all we have including our senses. He does not look as we look – because He sees perfectly. He does not act like we act, because His acts are perfect every time. Yet there is enough about Him for us to connect with Him for not only is He alive, He is the author of life! 

It is when we remember that and acknowledge Him in such a glorious way that can live without fear because we know He is with us and for us and blesses us just by His presence. That’s particularly heartening news in times of distress and sorrow. In Him we have a living reminder that death and the dead can’t do much but as long as we are alive and know the source of life we might as well give Him the glory. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 100 – Why Worship? Here’s Three Good Reasons

Three reasons to worship God. 

1. For the Lord is good; 

2. His mercy is everlasting, 

3. His truth endures to all generations.
Think on these things. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden