Can You Not See? 

His tone was deliberately provocative and accusatory. He was talking about wider issues, but he was still talking to me. 

“Can you not see?” 

People are there who are more than capable of helping in the situation. Opportunities are wide open for exploring and maximising. Relationships were there to be developed and invested in. The needs were more than evident. 

“Can you not see?” 

The load was never designed to be carried alone. The mission was never given to be done solo. The journey was never for the single. The assignment could never be completed by one person on their own. 

“Can you not see?” 

Hungry souls and broken hearts, crippled minds and beat up bodies all needing a response that went beyond saccharine sentiments and cheap quips. Young people patronised waiting to be truly appreciated. Lonely people neglected waiting to be truly embraced and understood in community. 

“Can you not see?” 

His eyes ablaze and yet filled with tears of anguish at how oblivious people appeared to be to that which was blindingly obvious. Anger and sorrow met in the pregnant pause. The fiery eyes burned within seeking the dross of apathy to quench it completely. Its glare highlighted every dark area of mediocre excuses and rationalisations. 

“Can you not see?” 

Your conventions and your camps. Your summits and your convocations. Your large gatherings and your small groups. Your shouting and your hollering. Your loud music and your loud preaching. Your convenient and selective rule keeping. Your committees and your boards. Your schemes and your visions. Your fasting and your Bible studies. All your activities and your busyness. All in vain. All because of your blindness to what matters first and foremost. 

“Can you not see?”  

The truth is that we see only too well. We see and hear and have become so accustomed to it that it has become acceptable. It is the norm. It is what it is. Resigned, world weary shrugging of shoulders have accepted this as our lot. So. It is best not to kick up a fuss. Not to rock the boat. Sure moan about it and grumble every now and then, but what can be done about it. That’s the way of the world, we console ourselves by saying. Best not to do anything other than carry on with the activities and busyness that marks out our existence until we shuffle off this mortal coil. Our eyes becoming dimmed with every concession and compromise. Our ears filling up with the wax of hopelessness and defeat. 

Yet the prophetic voice will not be quieted. 

“Can you not see?” 

The voice calls us back to the One who gives us sight. The voice calls us to repentance – not in sackcloth and ashes but renewed by the Spirit of God to see – see with compassion and move to actively meet the needs – not alone, but in relationship, in community, in harmony, in camaraderie, in the beauty of a unity that doesn’t demand uniformity and conformity to the traditions of men, but in the call of Christ to display the multi-faceted wisdom of God through what He has given each of us. 

He that has eyes to see will see what the Spirit is showing the church. He that has ears will hear and in concert with God will move as He moves. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Adopted Rather Than In An Orphanage 

When I come across videos like this it can be challenging at the best of times. When I watch a video like this in a time like this time of my life, it has great potential to make matters worse. 

So rather than go into it in any great detail, it is worth saying that the sentiments of this video are sentiments that have been bothering me for nearly a decade. But in it all, I am glad that these matters are being discussed and put into practice. Not just in America but around the world. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

For Reading Out Loud

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13)

Not everyone can read out loud with confidence.

Whether it’s because English is not their first language, or they were discouraged from reading out when they were younger, there’s something unusual about some opening the scripture and reading them out loud. Add to that their lack of being accustomed to reading versions like the King James reading it and understanding it’s flow and meaning. It’s good reason to keep the reading to those who are more up for the role.

Plus, not being confident in reading as you stumble on the flow and the words it looks as though you’re letting things down for everyone else. You feel a little embarrassed as though it makes you look less smart if you cannot boldly and confidently. So it’s best to keep quiet and leave it to those who are more up for the role.

To this I say, with all due respect and consideration, keep on reading for reading out loud. There is something about reading the scriptures out and hearing them read out that can make the engagement with them something more than academic or studious. Depending on the text being read there’s an appreciation of the beauty of poetry, the tragedy of narrative, the uplift in victorious history, the awe and intrigue in prophetic utterance. Sure, read it in your head to yourself on your own and it can stimulate things in your mind to yourself. Yet among brothers ans sisters, hearing it and reading it out loud – it’s a refreshing practice. Something that can be done at any time in most locations, through most situations.

Don’t take my word for it, though, give it a go. Make a practice of it. Chuckle together as you make your way through those ancestral records of names you’ve never heard of and never will again. Yet as you mention them just consider where they are – in the records of history. Read it out loud. It doesn’t even need commentary afterwards.

Read it and let it speak for itself. Let it rest in the mind. Let it stir the heart on its own merits.

(Photo: Unsplash) 

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Pilgrim’s End 

Among other things that have happened this year has been the growing appreciation for others who excel in the areas I love. 

I have come across some brilliant creative types who have helped me considerably by displaying their creative prowess. That has reminded me that I got into blogging and persisted in it because of what I read from others. 

A few years ago I came across A Pilgrim’s Progress and really loved Eric’s writing. His approach to church, encouragement in discipleship as well as his updates on his running was great stuff to me. So there is a degree of sadness to find out his season of blogging has come to an end. He is not the first blogger I love who finished with blogging. It’s odd and it’s sad to a degree. Sad that they won’t be continuing with stimulating and edifying content. 

I appreciate the reasoning behind it, though and it’s certainly worth remembering that not everything we do is supposed to be done for as long as we live. Being precious about Jesus does not necessarily mean we do the same thing, in the same way, in the same place all the time. Seasons come and seasons go. It’s good to know when to finish something. 

More importantly in as much as there won’t be new material, there is quite a wealth of content left behind to check. The nature of that content as well means it won’t get dated or irrelevant. As I have experienced time and again, material from across the years about Jesus, church, Discipleship and life can be as fresh and engaging today as it was when it was written. I think Eric’s material can be celebrated for that and I am grateful for the wealth of riches available. 

I encourage you to check the site out. See for yourself and be blessed. As you do that continue to pray that Eric will continue to be a blessing to his circle of influence and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

Thank you, Eric! 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Coming To An Agreement

Two people agreeing on something is in itself something not to take for granted.

That’s because it is easier to eventually reach a position where disagreement leads to division because of the disunity. That’s just between two people. Imagine what it’s like when the numbers increase.

I was reminded of two incidents in the book of Acts that highlighted just what an achievement it is to gain agreement. The first, seen in Acts 6, was when there was upset and uproar at what was deemed to be the unfair treatment of the non-Jewish widows. The way that agreement was reached to the solution presented is quite remarkable. In as much as it is recorded by Luke without that much in the way of nitty-gritty and detail – the outcome from the process which had the consent of both those affected and the apostles is something that I read and I know could only be successful because of the Spirit of God.

The really fascinating issue, however, which had the potential to cause major havoc in the early church – and which still caused repercussions despite the decision – was the Jerusalem Council referred to in Acts 15. This was a pivotal meeting for the sake of the gospel reaching the Gentiles. The arguments were strong, even after the Cornelius episode where Peter had made it clear that the Gentiles could also embrace this gospel with subsequent Pentecostal experiences as the brethren experienced on that awesome day. Even after all that, there were still some saying that real salvation required adherence to circumcision and the law of Moses. The dispute at Antioch before the argument in Jerusalem highlights how much both sides of the argument were held dearly. To reach agreement on the situation and send a letter to the churches to that effect is no small achievement at all. The role of the Spirit was highlighted even in the letter.

Disagreement has brought on a great deal of stress and turmoil. The church still has an opportunity to show the way to how not just to disagree with grace and civility, but actually how to work with the Spirit towards agreement. Not an appeasement to the cultural norms of the day, but standing with what is still an incredible call to new life through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

There’s More To It Than That

Sometimes I can have an extended season of interest in something. I’ll be all over it and fascinated to find out about it. Some of those things become a regular standby for me. I can venture there in my mind whilst waiting for a loved one to finish their engrossing conversation about something or other.

One of those things is the sci-fi television programme, Dr. Who. It recently finished it’s tenth series since its return to the television screens in 2005. Ten series – each made of 12 episodes – if you don’t include the Christmas specials. That’s 120 episodes. That’s a whole heap of hours engaging in various stories and adventures with the Doctor and his friend(s) in his mysterious transportation pod that travels in space and time. Ten years, four main leads, various friends, highs and lows. It’s always intriguing and yet …

Of late I had noticed that there were very familiar themes that dominated through all ten series. To the degree that as the current lead actor is about to depart it signals a time for the programme to undergo change and a change that can go far deeper than just the main character. Maybe it could recognise a greater breadth in storytelling to a relatively limited scope its explored in the ten seasons.

Anyway, there’s another place where I could go a lot more into the specifics where that’s concerned. The point of raising the point is that it reminds me that some people can get so familiar with something that it narrows their scope of the something. No wonder people speak about getting bored about something because their scope on the something is so narrow. You tell someone that they could live forever and a point raised is that the thought of it would be boring.

This however, shows a tremendous ignorance.

This is seen in no better an issue than the issue of learning to love God. The Apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 was his desire that the saints would discover the width, height and depths of the love of God. That invitation to explore was a quest into the unsearchable riches of God. People think that there’s so much to explore in outer space, yet we haven’t even scratched the surface of the amazing love of God operating in our inner space – our inner intimate space with God and each other. That invitation is one to know the love of God that doesn’t change and yet it is so vast and diverse that we can never truly be bored by it. It’s deep, it’s rich, it’s true and just when you think you know there’s more to know and settling for what you already know limits the scope of something that is eternal and infinite in nature. That’s a massive disservice and hugely wasted opportunity.

My desire in knowing the love of God in concert with other brothers and sisters in Christ is that I won’t settle for what I know. Whilst appreciating what I experience and fully engaging in the presence and present tense of it – I don’t want to set up a memorial and a mausoleum to that thing that happened way back when and just walk around it. Remember it sure, thank God for it, definitely – but there’s so much more to know. It should mean that we don’t go for a long time and just pander over particular expressions as though that’s all there is to know about God.

There’s more to it than that.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Easels and Brushes

There is a good friend of mine who is gifted with word pictures. I asked him a question about two people and he let fly again with a wonderful way of looking at their relationship. He said that one was the easel in which the other could paint masterpieces. Recognising the point made,  I duly applauded his great way of seeing things.

It’s a pity that life can be presented as so individualistic that we do not often see how well we compliment each other when we we’re not in it for selfish gain. Beautiful pictures truly come alive when we celebrate the beauty in the work of the easels and brushes. One finding room on the other, finding space to express. The other bearing and setting the environment. Yet both in and of themselves only instruments for the colour of life to be put in display. 

Then it’s not a matter of who is greater or who is more essential, it is a case of acknowledging and applauding what happens with the easel and the brush. 

(HT: @theprayingpoet for the inspiration) 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden