Holy Habits: Word

Exploring this particular habit is very close to my heart for a lot of reasons.

The first thing to address, though, is about the holy habits themselves. There are some things we develop and cultivate rather simply and easily. There are parallels between a number of natural habits and holy habits. For example it doesn’t take much for a baby to develop the habit of crying. It’s their first way of communicating with the strange world they find themselves in. Likewise it doesn’t take much for them to develop a habit of taking in the nutrients they need to survive. In fact it’s still amusing to reflect on the initial weeks and months of my children – eat, bathe, sleep, rinse and repeat with regular incursions of crying when any of those steps are not put out for them.

As we get older things change and we get sophisticated, but really we work to have the resources to eat, bathe and sleep and rinse and repeat. That operates best in the context of relationships. After all back as the baby, there was no way those needs could be met by ourselves. Then as we get older we realise that however much we ought to be pursuing ‘independence’, this whole living thing still depends on vibrant and fruitful relationships with others.

One of the things about holy habits that I love is how they are based on what we can connect to. Jesus expressed it brilliantly when He highlighted how grateful crowds of people were to get fed when they didn’t have food and He fed them supernaturally. They needed the food, He fed them. He then went onto challenge them to actually see that to really live they needed to eat something far more substantial than natural food. He offered Himself as the bread of life and encouraged those who truly wanted to live to believe in Him and experience life giving food that lasts forever.

Belief in Jesus is about opening up to who He is and allowing Him and His life to inform and shape all of life as you know it. Hugely helpful in that is that He is the Bread of Life that is also the Word of Life. Eating Him – trusting Him – believing in Him – is to feed off His Words. Even as He defeated the plans of the evil one by living off every word that proceeded from the Father, so He extends that capacity to overcome evil in the world by hearing Him as He speaks – eating His words by chewing and pondering over what He says and then as we digest it see how it empowers and enables us in itself to let us live the life God wants us to live.

There’s that fascinating episode in the earthly ministry of Jesus where He is transfigured and Elijah and Moses are with Him, but the voice from heaven points attention on Jesus and tells the disciples clearly and categorically to listen to what Jesus has to say. It doesn’t dismiss or degrade the importance of everything said in the Law and the Prophets. On the contrary it points to Jesus as the fulfillment of everything said and to hear Him is to hear everything God ever wanted to express – because Jesus is God expressed in the flesh. We hear Him, we take Him in, we as a result express Him in all of life.

So it is for us to make a habit of taking Him in through His word. It’s not different from the baby scenario. We get hungry, we cry out, we receive that which will sustain. The Living Word – the Bread of Life. This Word can be taken in by various means – but it is important that it is taken in – and by taken in I don’t mean study in the way we academically approach the term study. I mean enjoy the meal that is the word like you would enjoy a good meal – what was was it about it that made you think it was so delicious. So many textures and flavours in there – any worth mentioning. What about ingredients you didn’t pay attention to that were just as pivotal to creating that which was sweet to your lips and filling to your tummy whilst giving energy to every pore in your being. All this found in taking on the Word and making a habit of it.

As with all great eating habits, it is even better done in company. The experience can be so much richer when it becomes a regular part of life to engage in the Bread that is the Word with others who seek to be nourished by it and before you know it what was already an outstanding meal turns out to be a contender for meal of the century.

You might think this is slightly exaggerating, especially compared to some of the humdrum ways in which looking at the Word can take place. Especially when the Word is explored in a vacuum that seems to have no bearing to real life. We read what Jesus and what He did, we read about what others did thousands of years ago and we are happy for them or confused about what’s with all the blood in temples, or bored by the list of begats, or perplexed by people’s different understandings of what that prophet said and meant and what on earth was John on when he was writing the book of Revelation. Modern sensibilities are perturbed by the warfare and bloodshed splattered throughout parts of this Word.

But engaging in this Word was never meant to be a habit that was done purely by our own strength and based on the whims of the changing winds of what is culturally acceptable. There is divine assistance given to truly illuminate what is read when we read it. As we persist and learn to take joy in the pleasure of taking on the Word, so the Helper gives us that support we need so that over time understanding takes place and with it growth and with that greater gratitude for just how amazing the Word really is and how much life is the better for taking it in.

This is just the tip of the iceberg where appreciating the habit of the Word can be in the desire to be holy – set apart for the Master’s purposes and ready to do His will – a will found primarily in the Living Word.

I recommend the Word as a holy habit for you.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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The Journal: Write On

There is something about the blank page that invites words.

What kind of words and how that blank page will be filled appears daunting at first. It can be intimidating. So much can be written, but what should be written. What effect will it have to the reader? Will it really convey what the mind wants to say? Will He be pleased with what is done for His Name’s Sake?

Yet as long as it remains blank it says nothing. It changes nothing. It inspires nothing. For there is nothing.

That’s why, sometimes, for the sake of populating the blank page, it is important to write on and on.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Word in Action 

I love God. 

I really do. It’s the reason why I live and move and have such verve for doing my best. Among the countless reasons for loving Him is His unerring habit of speaking and then when He speaks, what He says happens. I love it. 

At the start of this year, I spoke to a few people who shared what they wanted to achieve in the year and I shared what I wanted as well. It’s easy to talk, but it’s a beautiful thing when the word becomes action. It’s not about a massive splash and everything being done perfectly first time, but it is a clear indication that what was planted within that honours God by blessing others moves from thoughts to manifest in the natural, physical, real world. 

I recently was privileged to witness a friend’s first steps into manifesting and I was so excited I couldn’t contain my joy. Not that the task is over and everything is perfect, but that critical first step was taken – the intentional first step in the journey to realising the Word. It’s so exciting to witness it, especially knowing that if it is of God, whatever challenges that may be faced will only prove to be the fuel that motors the Word being realised all the more. 

Witnessing these developments is hugely encouraging to me. It lifts my faith to know that His Word will not return to Him void. It will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. A purpose to bless and show the brilliance of our glorious God to the world! 

It’s a good reason to live. It’s a good reason to do the best. It’s a great reason to simply declare:

I love God. 

(Photo: Unsplash) 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

So Much To Write – So Little Time

Death is a topic some people avoid. You know the concerns – it’s being morbid, it’s a bit depressing, there’s nothing that good to say about it and for some it triggers some pretty traumatic memories. As death is inevitable, though, I don’t mind thinking and taking about the matter from time to time.

I am not usually talking about what I want done with me when it happens, I’m more interested in what it means and what can be done to be prepared for it as much as we can. I want to learn to mourn well and I want to learn how the hope I have in the Resurrection and the Life informs how I approach death. In any case, when I do bring up death it does remind me that to a large degree I have no idea when I’m going to die – I haven’t been given the scoop as to when, where and how. That’s more of a spur to get me looking how I can make the most of being alive now.

There is so much I could write about and yet if my heroes have taught me anything is that the writing comes after the reading. The speaking comes after the listening. The activating comes after the praying. It’s always that way because we are responsive beings and the One who initiates the conversation can help steer and guide how to make the most of the time that we’re alive if we pay attention to that order.

This brings me to the point of my continued love of writing. So much more I could write on a range of issues, but what may happen in time to come is that I’ll not be so quick to just write something – but to stop and listen, read and contemplate and process before doing the writing a bit more. Certain areas I want to share about and there’s a particular project up the sleeve that I want to bring out of the sleeve. It’s all in good time and all as I learn to be sensitive to following.

Just giving the heads up to where I’m at with the writing thing. Also to encourage you to make the most of living while you can because it is inevitable that one day we won’t be living  … well not like this anyway.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 107 – Stories of the Redeemed

My friend asked me if I was going to say anything, I shook my head. Eventually he got up and shared an aspect of his testimony and he simply gave thanks for being redeemed. It had a powerful impact on the listeners. It had a powerful impact on me. He knew where he had been and how bad things were and how amazing it was for God to redeem Him from that by His love. He knew God for himself, he had a story of the Redeemed. 

This Psalm shares four other stories of the Redeemed. Whether wanderers looking for a city to settle in, or those whose decisions actively placed them in darkness, or those foolish and sickened by their rebellion or those on the season about to be overwhelmed by the storms of their voyage – these all knew what it was to be in peril, what it was to cry out to God and what it was for God to hear and rescue them. 

These stories are to inspire us to know we have a story to share. How we were sinking in sin, far from the peaceful shore. How our active rebellion left us in a spiralling cycle of addiction and pain. How we were looking for something to satisfy in so many different areas and things and came up short in all of them. In those situations, some cataclysmic, some internal as we die in quiet agony. Whatever the situation, we have a story to share – a real story – of God showing up and showing out reversing the fortunes of the afflicted and shutting up the wicked. 

We have a story to share in word or song. In conversation and in life. A story of giving thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

December Thanks #28: Communication

2016 has been another year of my growing appreciation for WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress and other means of electronic communication.

They have been means by which I have been a recipient of the word and been a conveyor of the word. The word has come in greatly through those means. It has been a reminder again that the device and means itself is subject to those who use it. For as many as complain about the dross and garbage online there is available insightful, encouraging and beneficial material.

The year has been a turbulent one if you read certain sources. Celebrities dying, results going in surprising directions, etc. If you dwelt on that long enough from a certain perspective you would soon end up miserable. Thankfully there are other voices that even in their rebuke to the excesses and inhumanity prevalent, maintain a Kingdom hope and indicate towards a way of life that would be pleasing to the coming King.

It occurs to me more than ever before to be grateful for those voices effectively communicating through those means and be a part of that which seeks to shine the light in the darkness rather than just cursing it.

That occurs to me because this year has been enriched so greatly by being a recipient to such life-changing light. This light by communication has come to be something I treasure dearly in my life. It is something for which I will be forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #19: Journal

This year saw the birth of Christopher Journeyman.

A big reason for that was my recognition of the importance of the journey in my life and what it was to pay more attention to that. Who set the journey, the purpose of the journey, the scenery in the journey, the stops along the journey, the deviations from the journey, exhilarating moments in the journey – all that needed to be a lot more intentional in my life rather than just taking it for granted or worse still missing the whole point of it.

What has proven to be a valuable resource in the journey has been a journal. As I have mentioned before, I am not one to diligently maintain a diary. I do however make occasional notes and records of thoughts on a variety of issues. I will be at an event and make notes on it, I will be sitting through a meeting and making notes on it, I will be inspired by something and make a note on it. It has been tremendous to be able to do that.

A mega big part of that has been down to Evernote, an application that has been so useful for me to be able to do all that. Having used it for three years now, this year has been particularly noteworthy. (Geddit?) I looked back on some of the notes I made at the start of the year and was amazed at how much has been fulfilled without me being conscious of it at this time of the year. So great to see the faithfulness of God all the way through the journey of the year. Recently I was sharing with some friends how,  often,  you would need to move to really show out all that you are. Growth rarely takes place in the comfort zone, that’s why you move into areas unknown. That is a journey and it can be great to see how far you have come in the journey through records made in the journal.

As the Bible is God’s Word in it we get to consider how God reveals Himself along the journey to Jesus and beyond. People were taking notes. People were keeping the journal for God. I am thankful that He has given me the mind to recall and record the steps I have made in life’s journey. I am so glad it has been a resource highlighting God’s greatness and as a pilgrim and sojourner, it is something for which I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden