How Do You Mourn Well?

A few of us have been making our way through the Beatitudes. To go through any study at all, I am grateful I have some prayer support. What I enjoy about the prayer support is the one I get from one of my favourite people on the planet at the moment. I love this brother so much and he has a superb way of just bringing godly calm and peace to any situation.

So, I explained the plan to him, and he duly prayed for God to be glorified in the study that followed. In our conversation I shared my desire that the study would help those going through it to see the role that mourning should play in the life of the believer. As it transpired, the next day my good friend suffered a loss in his family. It brought matters home to me about the issue of mourning.

It was significant as well considering the exploration the few of us made in the issue of mourning. I love it when people question the Bible – not in an accusatory fashion, in a genuine wondering why fashion. We looked at the people of Israel’s response to the death of Moses and how the record stated that the people mourned his passing for 30 days. Someone wondered, “Why did they spend that much tie mourning over him? Surely not all of the people mourned for that long. I mean I can imagine a lot did for a while, but all the people, for that length of time? Why?”

Exploring issues like that got us to appreciate why mourning individually and corporately is important. It was also cool to address how Christians mourn too, because there was reference made to what Paul of Tarsus suggested that believers should mourn differently to others. That didn’t mean that there shouldn’t be mourning, though, because when Stephen died there was mourning by godly men for a godly man.

All those issues came together in a big challenge to me again about what it is to mourn well. It feels as if in this day and age nothing is really given to help with mourning should look like. I am not by any means suggesting there is a one suit fits all approach to to mourning, but there is something that surely we can learn from history and from others as to what it is to really mourn.

So how do you mourn well?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Words to Build

There was this prayer meeting I took part in and one of the thoughts that emerged from it was how important it was to use our words to build others. We were reminded of what Paul said to the church in Ephesus about communication.

The verse has been used by some to condemn swearing. I can see where they’re coming from, but it is a lot more than just prohibiting curse words. It’s an active invitation to consider what we’re using our words for. It’s tragic to hear some use their words in an attempt to bring down others, either in anger, in malice or in gossip. No swear words are used at all and sometimes some very pious and religious terms are used in conversations that appear well meaning but are just a front for the sort of corrupting communication Paul writes about.

It is my honour to be around people who bring out the blessings in the other part of Paul’s instruction. They stir me to practice using my words to build. They challenge me on this because there is a need. A need for the constructive. As they face new challenges – they need the constructive. As they face current challenges – they need the constructive. As they go through seasons of uncertainty – they need the constructive.

They need it and the same God who speaks the constructive in us, can use us to speak the constructive in others. It’s not about being cheerleaders all the time, the constructive isn’t about flattery or being charming. It’s about being substantial in encouraging the same to those who need it. There’s so much of it we can do if we remain focused on dwelling and meditating on the true, noble, right, pure, excellent, admirable and praiseworthy – something Paul encouraged the church in Philippi to practice.

I am a beneficiary of those who speak constructively on my life and certainly know it’s well worth pursuing in practice.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Over a Drink

Some people nurse their glass or their cup. It’s as though as they care for the circumference of the vessel as a reflection of the care they want to be held in concerning key issues in their lives.

Maybe if the conversation is nurtured as much as the glass or the cup, who knows what will flow as a result …

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Stop, Look and Listen

When I was just a little boy there was a campaign to promote safety for pedestrians crossing the road and it had a jingle that mentioned the three ways in the blog title. I remember the jingle, so I remember the phrase. I even remember what the drive of the campaign.

It’s good to know a few years later that the advice is just as necessary now as it was then and not just before crossing a road safely.

Not only is there a rush to get this, that and the other done. There is a relentless drive of routine and ritual. It must be done, but never questioned. It just must be done. It has always been done, there is safety in the regularity of it being done as opposed to the threat of the unknown when doing something different.

We get sucked in and before long it’s just the norm. It’s just what we do. There is little thought about alternatives. We just keep on going and keep on doing what has always been done.

Thankfully the grace of God will invite us to stop. There’s a day in the week given to stop. There are times in the day given to stop (not just sleep). That invitation to stop is a great mercy when we take advantage to do just that.

As we stop, the next invitation is to look. What a wonderful invitation – look back on what has been done even as the creation narrative shows God often looking at what was done. As we stop we can review, reflect and be refreshed by what has taken place. But not just look back, but look around. Take in the now. Observe the present. Behold the current surroundings. Not just drink all that in, but then look ahead at what things might be, what path is ahead even for the next step. All this observing is done after we stop. There’s no need to be active doing all the time. Creation is around to observe and joining God on His mission has opportunities to look as well.

Yet in all the observations having stopped, there is also a chance to listen. It is so difficult to truly listen because it is not about the self, it is about what is beyond the self. If we were to submit to truly listening there is much that could be really helpful for us and others. If we pay attention and listen, there is a voice calling. There is a voice engaging and inviting us to deeper relationships, deeper intimacy, deeper joy in knowing and that being the spring from which all other action can take place.

This isn’t about navel gazing and being introspective for the sake of being deep, profound but ultimately pointless. This is wisdom to see how love in doing is connected in love in being that is defined by a relationship with God that often sees Him invites you to stop, look and listen to His heart to hear what He’s saying.

Following what He says in those moments can allow us to enjoy the fullness of life found only in Him.

(Photos: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Walking With …

That’s quite a trek.

Plenty of twists and turns on the path and it doesn’t look like there is any safety on either side of the path. One false step could lead to harm or worse.

So for a journey like this it’s good to know it doesn’t need to be done alone. When that is said, some refer to the fact that at least the Way is with them highlighting the Truth in terms of the steps to take to Life.

This is a reassuring reality. Yet there is also the opportunity to travel with others. Like-minded pilgrims who appreciate that this journey cannot be accomplished alone. Like-minded travellers who have progressed because they realise the key is to make it together. They realise that if one should slip, another will be there to keep them from falling. The other will be there to restore and refresh. Together they can challenge each other to progress and keep going even when fatigue sets in, even when others give up.

It’s good to know it will be a case of walking with …

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Guitars or Keyboards: Creating the Environment for …

Pianists and guitarists have my unswerving admiration. Both musicians have a gift for creating soundscapes that few other instrumentalists can manage.

There’s always been something I found interesting between the guitar and the keyboard. That large piece of equipment in the keyboard always appeared to require a lot to it. Whereas the guitar was a lot more portable and able to create the sound whenever and wherever, especially the acoustic guitar.

Both instruments are great, but one seems more capable of creating the environment wherever and whenever than the other.

Something I have admired about certain people for quite a long time is a particular type of life guitarist. The person makes you feel comfortable, they make you feel right at home. Their focus is on you, but they don’t make you feel under scrutiny.

They don’t hog the conversation by talking about themselves and they’re not intrusive by asking nosey questions from you. Them being at ease makes it easier for you to feel the same. Before you know it you are hearing funny things and profound things and you’re paying no attention to time. You’re sharing things that were deep in your heart and you have found a way to say it without fear of judgement or retribution.

All because of the space prepared for you. All because that person or those people didn’t need the full keyboard, they could bring their acoustic guitars and make a melody that would make your heart soften and open for the healing you never even knew was available.

Following Jesus makes me want to be that kind of guitarist.

(Photos: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Herbs and Spices: Enhancing the Flavour

The rice was plain. The chicken was plain. The vegetables were plain. That was what they were used to. Other than a bit of salt, they didn’t want their meal any other way, because they never had their meal any other way.

That changed when they were invited to taste a meal at their new neighbour’s home. Even before the food arrived they were pleasantly enticed by the smells. The aroma was rich and multi-faceted, it had an effect on their taste buds that they had not experienced before. The connection between smell and taste was more potent than they had known it before.

Then the food came out. They were told it was rice, but it certainly wasn’t plain. Overcoming initial scepticism at this different way of preparing and presenting rice they tried some. Then tried some more, and some more. They were amazed at what they were enjoying, so rich and filling in and of itself. The way the vegetables appeared was so different to what they had eaten before, but the rice had given them the courage to give the new setup a try. The wide eyes and broad smiles of delight were all that was needed to show their full acceptance of the vegetables. Someone mentioned that vegetables had always been something they avoided because it didn’t taste that appealing, but now they had to change their approach – this made vegetables all the more appealing without the use of anything artificial and unhealthy.

As they mixed some of the rice with some of the vegetables, they were all crowing about how gorgeous the smell, the look and the taste of this delicious meal was. That was before the chicken was unveiled.

By the time they had tucked away all that food and discovered how herbs and spices played a crucial role in the experience, they couldn’t hide their excitement and desire to know how they could bring this diversity into the mix of their own concoctions.

They were surprised to discover that which was new to them had been practised for longer than their plain old approach and it was about making the most of all that was given to them to create mouthwatering and belly-filling experiences like these.

That’s how they enhanced the flavour.

(Photos: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden