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: Based On A Great Example

Relational beings are called to reflect the divine relational being who patterns what it is to be relational.

Great relationships start with the one between the husband and wife. That is the greatest eartly expression of team. Two become one in the omst intimate sense and share life together for a common purpose andlearn over the years how to bring out the best in each other and thus bring out the best in themselves as a whole. That is then displayed to the offspring – closest to witness what that life looks like.

That example then impacts the way the children grow to appreciate other key relationships and the purpose in those relationships. Better still if that example points to the ultimate relational being then there’s a factor that will excel beyond the example of the parents to inspiure the child as they mature to see how relationships can work well.

Before they are team – they relate to each other as beings made in the image of God. That engagement is one of wonder at the work of the Lord. That interaction is one of honouring and cherishing what makes them who they are. On that basis of respect and a desire to mutually submit the same ethos of looking for the best in the others helps the team to truly excel.

That team does well to follow good examples.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden