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 84 – Be Where You Are

This Psalm hails the benefits of the house of the Lord. It’s a big deal. The Psalmist loves it. This is where the focus is for the life of those who love their God. 

Making the pilgrimage there to enjoy of the benefits there. It’s brilliant. 

It’s a pity though that people have made something similar today over going to a building on a certain day. Enjoying being where the Lord is today, need not be as limited and narrow at all. Enjoying being where the Lord is should be something we value even more today. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden 

Dryden Update – February 2017

January is over. Thank God.

I did not hate January. Lots of positive steps occurred in the month, developments in one or two pursuits I have had in mind. One of my favourites is coming across the Anchor app. It’s not about ships at sea, thankfully, it’s a brilliant device for conversations and audio snippets of no more than two minutes. Terrific tool that will be a platform I intend to use more often.

January was also the month in which I got the Psalms writing going and I am grateful to God that it’s on track so far albeit having only completed over a fifth of the way through. One or two people have noticed that there’s some sort of countdown going on on my Twitter feed and wondering what’s that all about. Well what it is about is … something that I’ll be happy to share nearer the time.

Married life remains a source of great inspiration and I’m glad for that. Children are well and being children and I’m glad for that.

Church is interesting in a number of different ways. Opportunities cropping up in that as well. Most importantly good conversations are taking place leading us to consider Christ deeply and wants from us. That’s very positive.

January has also offered the chance to be able to make a note or two on plans for progress and some of those have started already. Others have to wait for a month or three while certain other things are sorted, but it’s reassuring to know that there isn’t procrastination in taking the steps necessary to see those plans begin to take some shape.

So that’s how things are going on the Dryden front. I have some desires for February. Some places I am going. Some places I want to go with others. Some things I want to materialise to liberate me from some other things from which I need liberating. As well as the ongoing desire to get deeper in knowing Jesus, by His Spirit, through His Word, in His Body of believers to the world He desires to be lightened by His presence made known. That is my desire.

One hugely helpful thing in these proceedings has been the greater place of prayer in my life – individually and as part of a body of believers. Learning to love Him more in and through prayer is a great experience. An experience I want to grow in more. I know I need the strength of the Lord to wake up in the morning, let alone be about any of the things He has called me to do. I know I need His strength and that increasingly comes from just enjoying and loving his presence through prayer.

Well, onwards and upwards dear reader. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and like the work that gets posted on here.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #16: Church

catzhuz7z8g-tim-marshall.jpg

(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

It’s Not Always That Straightforward 

It’s not a hopeless quest.

Among other terms I enjoy, there’s the term ‘ideal’.

Whenever anyone starts a statement with the phrase ‘in the ideal world’, I buckle up and get ready for a lesson in the real world ain’t like we like it and we just have to lump it.

‘In the ideal world, we would all love each other and pray for one another, but we just have to accept that people are flawed and so that just won’t happen.’

‘In an ideal world, we would have loving marriages and caring families, but you have to get real and admit it’s tougher than ever to find a good spouse, so you just have to make do and prepare for disappointment.’

‘In an ideal world, we would have church that recognises there is more to life than happy-clappy, feelgood therapy sessions and get on with the Kingdom mission, but in the real world there’s just not enough people to get on with that, so you have to settle for what there is.’

It is very easy to swallow all of that and just get on with making do with the world that will never be ideal. In fact I have sometimes found that to be the easier option. Just fit in, blend in, accommodate and acclimatise. There are enough norms to observe and activities to keep you busy so you don’t have to worry too much about working towards actual change. That way all of that ideal talk can be left to dreamers who are out there in their fantasies while I can return to just coping with what’s going on in the real world.

Recently, however, I was reminded that Jesus lived to show that the ideal is not something abstract that can never be attained. He came in the flesh to prove that, in the words of a great Winans track, it’s good to know He’ll be there if ever I fall, but it’s better to know that I don’t have to fall at all. Not only that but what He calls for in expressing real Kingdom life is available by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not a pipe dream, it is real and indeed more real than the facade we accept that’s just perpetuating death in religious garb.

Pockets of communities of grace prove that the ideal is attainable. It’s not about perfectionists, it is about having the vision outlined in Scripture ever before us and by faith doing our part to live that out in our every day (not every week) lives. We see Jesus, we focus on things above and over time we grow in knowing Him and seeing that reflected in ever more loving relationships and compassion for the society we live in.

Sure, episodes and an ongoing narrative gives the impression we’re fighting against the tide. Yet because of Christ we are establishing Kingdom reality through our love for Christ, minds renewed to see others as more important than ourselves and an awareness of a dark world in need of the light of God.

It’s not a hopeless quest.

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

Making Room For Others To Be A Blessing

People are really interested in themselves.

Not everyone, but a large number of them. Just ask the right question and immediately they will be off and running about themselves in some capacity. They will hog the conversation and by the end of it almost forget how they started, such is their interest in themselves.

That can sometimes get a bit … annoying, when you’re hearing something familiar time and again. Yet there’s something to observe and appreciate in seeing them get animated about the subject matter.

Often, I reckon, in making a radical change to us, Jesus invites to have the same degree of fascination with ourselves and apply that to being fascinated about our heavenly Father, His Son and the plans that He has for us in doing good works. If that becomes the main focus of conversation then all of a sudden not only is the person talking tremendously blessed for the experience, but so are others as well.

It’s often a tragedy that some gatherings never get round to encouraging people to get in on that kind of conversation. It’s a shame that we don;t get to hear and get engaged in each other’s stories about what God did for them, what God is doing for others through them and what God has in store for them as they work with others in seeing His Kingdom come and will done on earth.

It need not be that way though. This is why the challenge of opening our lives to each other can be such an enriching experience on that premise. Gradually in each other we can recognise beyond the flaws and faults the Spirit of God in operation in changing that life to be more like Jesus. We can see how that life is in tune with the life of Christ – maybe in her giving, or in his ability to administrate well, or in her capacity to teach, or perhaps in his extraordinary way he can tell what someone was saying in an unknown tongue, or maybe in how she was able to glean what God would direct in a given situation or … and on and on and on. A plethora of God-encounters in line with the revelation of His Son empowered by His Spirit as we give people the space to be a blessing.

To give that space is about being open to people to be a part of our lives. Intentionally looking for opportunities for them to be a part of us and intentionally looking for and encouraging them to be a blessing even as we continue to practice being a blessing to others too.

Maybe that way we can get people to be interested in something even more glorious than themselves.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden