Does That Suit You?

A friend of mine was concerned.

He was asked to facilitate a session standing in for someone else. My friend’s concern was how to facilitate the session in the typical way that the absent facilitator would do it. The concern was understandable, after all, my friend didn’t want to upset a routine that people got accustomed to and he certainly didn’t want to draw attention to himself by veering off script.

However, as we conversed, it became clear that the worst thing he could do would be to facilitate it just like the other guy. It just wouldn’t suit him at all. Thankfully, as it transpired, my friend was able to be both considerate to the needs of those attending the session and still be himself in his delivery.

Despite his best intentions to just go unnoticed in carrying out the task and not draw attention to himself, his confidence, competence and comfort in delivering in a way that suited him left a great impression on those who took part. Such was the positive response that the original facilitator invited him to take more sessions.

There are a lot of outstanding things that people are doing in their own way and because it’s so effective, others look to turn one person’s style into a system and format and expect folks to fit that particular style. It’s evident in schools, it’s evident in offices, it’s evident in hospitals and it is evident in churches.

It can, however, be suffocating as people mistake a decent method for one person at one time, as a universal approach for all places at all times.

It is delightful when we recognise people for how God has specifically equipped them to function and rather than expecting them to fit our mould, we give them the space and the platform to serve in that specific way God has given.

This is why we celebrate a diverse group of people in scripture who displayed the brilliance of God in different settings that still expressed their God-given character and personality functioning in their unique calling as God directed. It would be a shame if we acknowledged that in the life of the called by God only to hinder that in the various formats and systems we put together.

This is not an invitation for selfish and self-gratifying pursuits where we can do whatever we like whether people like it or not. This is the pursuit of what God has specifically called us to be in service to Him for the benefit and blessing of others. He who made the best clothing for our parents, knows how best we can be clothed to be effective in what we do.

That’s why from time to time it’s good to look at what we are putting on ourselves and carefully consider – does that really suit you?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Acknowledging Good Service

If you don’t get good service, you are often going to do something about it, even if it’s just grumbling to someone else. What happens, however when we benefit from outstanding service?

Authrine and I had the pleasure of her company, recently. It was great spending time with her and hearing how she was doing.

This woman had made a significant contribution to us individually and as a couple. Her greatest contribution has been her example. Never seeking the spotlight and never chasing after positions, she has effortlessly been promoted wherever she has been all because of her incredible heart for service. Sacrificial service, discreet service, the sort that’s done without need for open recognition, but with deep and lasting repercussions of blessings for those in receipt.

There is so much to be learned from her and applied in life about love, faith, practical outworking of spiritual connection and endurance under very trying circumstances.

It’s easy to complain about poor service when we receive it. It should be our delight and joy to acknowledge and celebrate good service when we receive it. Not just celebrate it, but endeavour to let it spur us on to more acts of good service.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

What’s So Sweet About It?

One of the pivotal moments in my wall with Jesus took place in a church building in South London. It happened almost 20 years ago. The place was old and the inside was typically cold. Not many of us were gathered and that gave the place a sparse look about it all the more. Nevertheless we few got on with some words of encouragement and a few songs.

A hymn was selected that we sung. I had heard the hymn before and sung it umpteen times. But not on this occasion. The song was being sung, but not by me. I was paying attention to a narrative that described me to the tee.

I’m tired of sin, footsore and weary, The darksome path hath dreary grown, But now a light has ris’n to cheer me; I find in Thee my Star, my Sun.

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer, Till I am wholly lost in Thee;

It’s worth reflecting on the rest of the narrative in the song. It outlined an aspiration I had never taken as seriously as I did then. A desire to know God so deeply and so intimately that everything about me would only shine and declare Him. I cannot do justice in words to how transformative that experience in that dusty, cold structure was. Words were deep, God was more real to me than He had ever been. Tears flowed without inhibition as the encounter with the risen Saviour and Redeemer gave me a new lease of life.

Almost 20 years later, reflecting on that makes me applaud the goodness of God. It also made me stop and question God.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

Another song that came to mind was a golden oldie that declared The Longer I Serve Him, The Sweeter He Grows. I love hearing the song, it’s a real treasure. Yet, I looked on over 20 years of walking with Jesus and asked the question again.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

How is it sweeter now than it was in those heady days of loving Jesus and wanting to do His will with a seemingly unquenchable fire and zeal? If I based this on observation, it appeared that the longer you served, the more beleaguered you got. The more you got used to routine and the status quo. Indeed it appeared in some people’s case the longer you served Him the more cranky, tired and bitter you became.

“What’s so sweet about it?”

The answer came very helpfully from the sort of person who made it his business to consciously only sing songs he meant, not just because others were singing it or because the vibe was good. He reminded me to consider the one we serve.

Consider Jesus and consider Him deeply. Consider the invitation to travel from darkness to light as He leads. Consider He who knew no sin taking on sin so that we could be truly right in the sight of our Creator and Father. Consider Him who walks with us in our struggles and pains and can bear with us because He endured and overcame. Consider Him – gaze upon Him, rest in Him, grow in knowing Him, believe Him as He reveals Himself to you and see that serving Him is only possible because He gives strength, vision, joy and hope.

Doing that is no one off thing. Doing that properly is an all encompassing activity involving all of life. Jesus is considered in fighting injustice, Jesus is considered in enjoying recreational events. Jesus is considered at home, on journeys, in shopping, in paying bills, in grieving over lost loved ones, in celebrating the birth of newborn loved ones, in painting the kitchen, in ironing the trousers, in walking to work, in struggling with temptation, in having a good Thursday.

When considered in this light and appreciating that the consideration is a relational one ever growing in knowing, and that knowing brings greater light and joy even in times of confusion and despair. That consideration begins to explain why the will is sweet. It starts the path of exploring why genuinely serving Him gets sweeter as you do it more.

It’s a start. Of course to find out more is to actually accept His invitation for yourself.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

A New Month A New Season: Dryden Update

Thank you, Lord. July is over.

I did not dislike July. Quite a number of beautiful things happened over the month. Flicking through the blogs written over the month, I like quite a lot of what I wrote. Yet July is still a wilderness month in the summer. Never been a big fan of the summer and of July. Just a long month in every way with nothing to mark it out as a month to look out for – in my experience.

So for all the blessings I enjoyed in the month, I am very glad it’s over. And in a real way, the seventh month acted as one of completion and rest before a new month kicks off and I am particularly excited about the month.

Gotta be honest, the big reason for the excitement is the return of the football season. All the fuss around how things will be as the teams get ready to negotiate another set of fixtures and all that, I love it.

In more important things, though the thought of a new season for a game I love coincided with a thought about encouraging believers to cherish and embrace their call to service. Even as Jesus served and left an example for His followers to serve, there is something inherently out of sync in the life of a believer if they aren’t joining Jesus in serving others. It’s a concern of mine that this aspect of life in Christ is either neglected, minimised or left to refer to things that happen in the ‘worship service’ like ushering and the like. Folks from that type of Christian perspective won’t have a problem with that at all, but looking at how service was inherent in the life of God’s people in the time with Israel, how Jesus served and how service looked in the early church it often comes across as very different to how we get it and how we do it.

In any case, not just blogging and bleating about it, the verve is there to engage in and support others in getting involved in serving. A new season of service, if you will. Setting folks up to look at the bigger picture of serving and then identifying where they fit in that picture as we recognise what Paul told us all along that actually we are His workmanship created for good works in Christ that He has already prepared for us. That’s an outworking of the glorious salvation message we have received of the grace that makes us alive. We are saved and now we serve. It makes all kinds of sense – now it is about time we got on with it.

So those kind of things are keeping me going at this time of my life. I am enjoying writing a lot and want to get to do it a bit more often. I love my family a great deal at the moment and love the thought of doing family a bit more often. I love the Word of God and love the thought of engaging in it a bit more often and sharing findings with the saints as and when the opportunity arises.

Jesus is Lord and that is a beautiful fact. One of the things that meant a lot to me in July was appreciating that streamlining at times is a useful exercise to ensure as always I only do what God wants me to do and don’t get lumbered with well meaning baggage that takes up space and time that could be better invested in just doing what He wants. So for all the plans, schemes and dreams, I realise that it is good to be lead by Him to know what He wants and walk along the paths He sets.

So, with that stated, here’s looking back at July with thanksgiving and holding arms open with the broad Dryden grin in anticipation of the wonders August has in store. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with what’s going on with the man CD – keep me and my family in your prayers!

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Once More With Feeling

I used to sing with a choir. The beauty of singing with a choir is that your voice is not the main thing, it contributes to the main thing.

When we rehearsed what we were singing, time was given to get accustomed to the structure of the song and the parts in it. Time was also given to understand the lyrics not just for how they rhythmically fitted, but for what they were to convey. Time was given for these things, but pretty soon the musing and figuring out would have to turn to singing the song as it was supposed to be sung. The reason to be in the choir was to be able to do that.

Being in the choir was not all about good technical quality. It was that capacity to sing it the way it was meant to be sung which was with your entire being in the song. That did not mean theatrical renditions and flourishes – it was clear when it was contrived. It did mean, however, engaging with the song and allowing it to mean something to you and then expressing that while singing it. Not everyone could do that – and that’s no slight on the people, that was clear observable reality. In those cases of recognising that, it just made sense to leave choir singing to others who could.

So I left it to those who could.

It was great learning, however, the importance of the service shared when the choir sang it with feeling. When people could clearly see the fruits of the hours of rehearsal to deliver the message in the song. When listeners could witness that the song was rich and enriching, something that moved and was moving, the power of those occasions was unforgettable.

It also informed me that this was not something just applicable to choirs and songs.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 1st Epic 18 – Saul vs David: The Battle Begins

When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days. (1 Samuel 18:28‭-‬29 NIV)

The story of battle that David is usually known for is his tussle with Goliath, but the real giant that opposed David before he became King was the giant shadow of Saul.

To all intents and purposes this didn’t need to be the case at all. Saul was the king, David acknowledged that and saw his own position as being subordinate to that. He knew his capabilities, but he was loyal and devoted to King and country. Saul on the other hand, was a man in turmoil. He knew the Spirit of God had left him, the rejection by God was keenly felt and now with this young man he was very aware that where here was someone who had favour from God. So pronounced was that favour that Saul saw a threat.

Whatever Saul did to oppose David only reinforced the favour and every time it was reinforced, Saul’s insecurity was heightened. The list of successes in chapter 17 of 1 Samuel give an indication of the degree to which David was shown great favour. The King’s son, Jonathan, establishes an intimate bond with him. The King’s second daughter is deeply in love with him. The Philistines suffer great losses against him. The women of Israel sing songs adoring him. The army highly respect him and endorse the strides he makes through the ranks. Even when it comes to a challenge set to gain the hand of the King’s second daughter in marriage, he brings back double the required amount, such is his sense of duty to royalty and God’s favour on his life.

David’s attitude as well as the favour of God is noteworthy. He’s aware that Saul is somewhat against him – avoiding a spear aimed at you once will give you that impression. Avoiding it twice seals the deal that you’re not the most pleasing person in the King’s eyes. David can take the hint with the nature of the missions he’s being sent on that these are of a dangerous variety. At any point he might have been well placed to have a victim mentality or a persecution complex. Not David, though. He has a servant heart and as he served God in defeating Goliath, so he serves God in his obedience to the King.

It’s this focus on the Almighty that will help David considerably as the opposition of Saul intensifies.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 1st Epic 02 – Consequences of Contempt

If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord , who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.
… And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. (1 Samuel 2:25, 35 ESV)

It’s very sobering reading the judgment of God.

From the ecstasy of a barren woman who prayed to God and was given a son we are taken to a situation where an old man with two sons is told he is about to lose what he he has because of their contempt for God.

In as much as Eli rebuked his sons for their scandalous behaviour as priests, he did not take action to stop them bringing disrepute to their service. The words of the man of God to Eli don’t hold back from what God will do for such contempt. It takes something significant for God to move so severely to replace a lineage with another.

There’s much to learn about parental priorities that don’t indulge sin. There’s also much to learn about the sort of service God looks for – not ones that exploits people, but one that genuinely looks to be faithful and diligent to God and the people.

These were serious matters then, they remain serious matters now. Treating the service of God and service to others with contempt has serious consequences.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden