What Kind Of Man Are You? In Pursuit of Righteousness

Righteousness or Selfishness.

Men are good at pursuing things.

They will spend hours pursuing gaming excellence. They have no problems investing sizeable fortunes following their football team around the world. They will go to great extents to track down the woman that catches their eye.

Men are good at pursuing things.

Paul’s encouragement to his son in the faith is to ensure that the pursuits he finds himself on are worthwhile. The pursuit of righteousness is in itself one that can even more consuming than winning a trophy in a sport or finally completing that video game. That pursuit of righteousness impacts all aspects of life – what is it to really be pleasing to the God? What is it to follow in the footsteps of Jesus to reflect the image of God on the earth?

Pursuing righteousness impacts how we spend life. What takes up our time and our thoughts. Where we invest our resources and energies. It is not about self-gratification, it is about what will bring the best out of others and the given situation of life we are in.

Every day men are challenged to consider what kind of man they will be. It’s all too easy to be one in pursuit of selfish gain. It’s the call to rise to something far more in line with their purpose for existing to pursue righteousness.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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The Rise and Fall of Asa: 2 – A Rise Based on Faith and Obedience

The world we grow up in is the result of decisions made by people before us.

Those decisions influence behaviours that set up patterns of existence. In time these become so embedded in society that they become norms. One generation exercises it, the next generation continues it and the following generation takes it for granted.

The people of Israel knew their history very well. They were slaves in Egypt, but God rescued them and established them in their own land with a specific call to be a covenant people. The deal was simple. As long as they remained true to their Saviour, He would be with them and for them. When they chose someone other than Him, they left themselves open to being put in a whole lot of trouble.

By the time Asa takes the throne, the Kingdom of Judah had been through three kings who lead the people of God away from with idolatry. Despite occasional references to the Lord, they became a people who over the generations were more than used to worshipping a variety of idols.

Asa’s stance on taking the throne is amazingly bold. The call to return to God is not insignificant. He is telling a people culturally entrenched in serving many gods, to ditch that which will lead to their ruin. He is actively commanding a return to the one true God. He could have made his time as king based on any number of policies – Kingdom advancement, treaties with other countries via marriages, seeking economic and political stability through various means. Not for this King, though. He wants the primary policy of his reign to be about repentance and obedience to the one true God.

It was incredibly bold then. It would be incredibly bold to do that now. We don’t need to be in charge of a country. We already have a responsibility to ourselves and those in our sphere of influence. A responsibility to centre everything on living for, loving and obeying the one true God who has rescued us from a slavery even worse than that suffered by the people of Israel in Egypt.

That can sometimes run against the cultural norms that have been set up for generations. In the new life, we often struggle against pleas to return to the old life with its trappings and habits we used to enjoy. The call to repentance and obedience is just as radical and bold in our individual walk with God as the national call was for Asa.

It says much for Asa that despite his father and grandfather forsaking God, he wanted to make a difference – he wanted to be the difference. He wanted to return to God and he wanted those in his care to return with him.

That passion for the primacy of God in all things is at the heart of how Asa’s rise in influence and being a blessing to his nation.

That’s worth reflecting on.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

On The Run: Running For Your Life

What’s with this On The Run series of posts, Christopher? Are you dodging someone? Have the authorities caught up with you?

There was a bit of what the Apostle Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy, that made me stop and pay close attention to it and myself.

There is something about this advice that acknowledges something about the human condition. We are prone to run for two reasons. We run away from something we seek to avoid and we will chase something we desperately desire.

The advice Paul gives, however, is counter-intuitive. Evil desires of youth – not always what we perceive them to be and sometimes seen as rites of passage, sowing your seed, feeling your oats, part of what growing up is all about. With their association to youth there is that stage of life where you are working out things for yourself and seeking to establish your own identity. Taking instruction isn’t always a welcome activity especially if it challenges urges that others tell you are fine to explore and express however you want.

Paul can encourage Timothy in this way, however, because they have lived life together and Timothy has seen at close quarters how the gospel of Jesus Christ radically transforms and enables you to follow Jesus. Not only has Timothy seen it, but he knows from experience what it is to live that way. He knows what it is to pursue – chase after – those godly virtues that mark out a followers of Christ from someone who is just a fan.

It’s not just about running away from sin, it’s recognising the great worth of righteousness, faith, love and peace and as a result looking to gain that which you value over everything else. As you make it your ultimate pursuit it’s something worth leaving everything for and running after it.

No. I am not dodging any authorities or the like. I have a renewed desire to run for my life. Running in pursuit of righteousness is running for my life. Running in pursuit of faith is running for my life. Running in pursuit of love is running for my life. Running in pursuit of peace is running for my life.

That run should be something that keeps running and not just for me …

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

On The Run: Prologue

I used to run when I was younger.

I ran with my siblings and our friends playing in the estate that we grew up in. When I was a little older, I ran because I was good at it in the shorter distances. It made me useful for the rugby and I had one or two games playing for the school teams.

I felt my asthma prohibited me from doing too much running, I especially hated the longer distance running. Eventually once compulsory education was over and thus physical education came to an end, so did my interest in actually running. Walking was a lot less strenuous. I like walking.

Indeed, I am not one to be in a rush for much, so running comes rare to me.

Well it used to come rare to me until recently my physical condition compelled me to engage in some training. That training didn’t require that much in terms of running – some sprints, but other than that, no running. It was the physical training, though, that reminded me of the need for spiritual training, Paul of Tarsus would refer to it as training for godliness.

Looking at the issue of that kind of training brought me across something that stopped me in my tracks and at the same time launched me on the run.

I am not the only one on the run and the nature of it became so pressing, I wanted to let you in on what it’s all about to be on the run. I think you’ll find it worth your while.

(This keeps running …)

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 58 – O God,  Deal With The Wicked

Psalm 58 ain’t easy reading. It’s gritty reading.

It’s not one of those we see rushed off to become a Hillsong classic. I can’t imagine Darlene Zschech rushing to sing …

Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun. (Psalms 58:8 ESV)

I  don’t think we can expect Israel Houghton to pop up with a song with the lyric …

O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord ! (Psalms 58:6 ESV) 

But there it is in the Holy Word. What do we do with it? Other than ignore it as apparently appears to be the thing? 

Well, for me, the first thing to do is accept it. The Psalmist was inspired to put it together, there was agreement it should be in this collection of Psalms, so it’s not clever or fair to overlook it. It’s also worth noting, these are lyrics to song, creatively conveying truth. It’s there where the journey can begin. 

Reading the Psalm is a guttural outcry for justice against the wicked. Graphic and brutal though that desire is, it none the less comes from a place of desperately desiring righteous rule to win out against the examples of monstrosities committed in the world. The Psalmist seeks justice and knows where to go for it. 

The quest for justice and the resolution of evil isn’t something expressed just in the Psalms. The entire Bible plays out the understanding of the good and right deriving from God and His rule in ultimately seeing off the wicked and evil in the world. In the meantime it’s for us to have the honesty and bravery to join that quest for righteousness which from time to time might require us speaking out against unrighteousness and evil when we see it, looking to the God who judges to do right by His creation. 

Maybe it is time we considered engaging with God more honestly on such issues than the lighter, fluffier approaches we may from time to time prefer. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 53 – Relief From Relentless Rebellion 

I know there is a concept known as atheism. I am very much aware of it. I just don’t think they really mean what they purport. It’s a bizarre movement that seeks to counter the existence of a being that would be beyond their conceptualising anyway. It’s like a turkey not believing in Christmas dinner – you can reject it all you like, but it’s inevitable. 

Where I think atheism would really be on a more honest plain would be rather than to dispute the existence of God, just blatantly state that they reject Him. That would make a lot more sense. 

This definition of atheism – not so much God does not exist, more a case of saying No to God is something rampant in our world. Indeed our very condition at birth was that way inclined. It’s a condition the Psalmist was very familiar with throughout the bleak observations noted in this Psalm. 

Be in no doubt, a world that rejects God is not a pleasant one to live in. For with the absence of the divine who defines we are left to do things for ourselves and in as much as we have the capacity to do beneficial acts, these are more than counteracted by that innate ability to do the grotesque, the abysmal, the dire, the depraved. That is the dark world outlined by the Psalmist which is not a strange one to modern readers. 

Making the last verse all the more poignant, not for the sake of escapism, but for the cry for righteousness to rule. To know that whatever the fool says in his heart, the truth remains there is a Sovereign who rules in the affairs of man and His righteous rule seen throughout time and epitomised in the life of Jesus Christ will one day wipe the fools and their foolishness off the earth and replace it with the peace and justice that comes from the God who cares for those He created. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 37 – Don’t Worry About A Thing

They look to be prospering. They get high positions and wield the power like they are to rule forever. The poor and needy look to be the first to suffer. 

It’s unfair. It’s not right. It’s upsetting. It’s aggravating. 

No wonder we are prone to fret, get anxious, worry and that leads to taking matters into our own hands. Railing against the wrong in a manner that only exacerbates the wrong. Thinking we can do better and only making matters worse. 

Trust in God can be hard when injustice appears so rife, but it remains the best course of action. It is not inaction or being passive. It is actively leaning and resting in the God of Justice and learning to be and do good. That way we see things from His perspective and see our way through challenging times. 

Only from that reassurance and trust can we learn to take the good advice: don’t worry about a  thing, because every little thing is going to be alright. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden