Living Beyond Ourselves 

OK a brief football reference, then I will move right on, honest. 

So, Wayne Rooney is the leading goalscorer for his club, Manchester United and his country. He has won every trophy there is to win in the game at club level and has scored crucial goals in the run up to that. Yet for all those accomplishments there are some who are not convinced he really lived up to his potential. A friend of mine who supports United (keep praying, keep fasting), suggests that Rooney sacrificed himself for the greater good of the team he played for. Whilst others progressed to bigger and better things, he remained even as his role diminished, but he persisted and made himself available in whatever position he was called to play. 

Beyond football, there are some really good examples of folks who know what it is to live sacrificially to advance the cause of the wellbeing of humanity. The best examples I have found are from those who do not need and have never sought the limelight or needed the accolades for their efforts. Their reward is in their faithfulness and desire to serve. They are happy to see others flourish even if they are forgotten in the celebration. 

The heart of the servant living beyond themselves is a great way to see what it is to follow Jesus. He who laid His life down for His friends and did it so they would know what it was to serve and to love to the degree far greater than any love seen before. We follow in that way by seeing others around us, however flawed we are,  as possible friends rather than potential foes. In the light of the possibility simply exploring how to be a platform for the other to flourish in all they could do to be a blessing to the world. 

Part of being that platform is to invite them to consider this example of endless and selfless love that can make those who feel like the least be treated like they’re the most. Most precious and valuable in the eyes of a loving Father. Not for their egocentric boost, but so they can join in the joy of sharing this great news in deed and truth at work, at home, at college, on the bus, in the coffee shops (whilst drinking orange juice, obviously), in the park, sitting next to the homeless beggar in the city centre, watching the classic with the previously lonely widow who never thought anyone cared, supporting the child with severe learning difficulties on the brink of being excluded from another school, standing up for justice and righteousness for the poor and marginalised in the community. All of that not to draw attention to yourself, but point the light on Jesus. 

Whether Rooney really did sacrifice his career to advance the cause of his teammates will remain a point of contention. What is irrefutable is that God in Christ showed us how we can live in a way where others experience the amazing love of God. That is the way of living beyond ourselves. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 136 – Enduring Love 


There is a song called, Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong. The sentiments of the song may appear rather cheesy to some, but amongst those lyrics is a sense of love that has enduring power. 

That theme of enduring power in love dominates this Psalm. The love of God described here takes on epic proportions because it is a love that has last the ages. From creation to Kingdom formation, the enduring love of God – His mercies ever extended – declares His faithfulness and commitment in every circumstance. 

This enduring love restores, it overcomes, it guides and leads through the wildernesses to lands flowing in milk and honey. It sees a people revel but never loses hope. It is not a sentiment, it is not a feeling, it’s far more than a force, this enduring love expresses the character of God Himself. 

This is not a love exclusive to a people group in a given period of history. Echoes and effects of this love can be felt throughout the world through all time. Even now this enduring love transforms lives and has the greatest power in the universe. A power that lift people up to where eagles fly on to a mountain high. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 119 – Life in the Law of the Lord

Law, Word, Statutes, Precepts, Decrees, Commands and Promises. 

Seven words used often in NIV in this Psalm to express what had been stated in the first Psalm. That the man is blessed who delights in the Law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night. That blessing is expressed in suffering and hardship, that blessing is expressed against significant opposition to that delightful Law. That blessing is evident in every season of life because it is not a mere desire to be a do-gooder or to hit the right number of points. What underpins it is a desire to know and love the good Lord who has given this good Law. He has created us and in Him is everything needed to truly live not just hope to survive or blunder from one issue to the other. 

The longest Psalm in the collection merited a day and night to consider it and highlight key verses from it, which I endeavoured to do throughout the day. The main things I emerged with was just how crucial love, desire and focus is on the Word of God. And also how that love is not for text or legality but to embrace a relationship with the good God who in His goodness shows the way in His Word to enjoy life if we have the heart to turn to Him love what He loves and despise what He despises. 

That’s a lifetime commitment, but it’s also one that we see personified in the One who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. It’s dynamic life changing encounters with the God who speaks and as we hear and respond accordingly do we too can live to praise Him and know Him more. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 111 – A Lifetime of Study (No, Not That Kind) 

It remains a reality that some people finished school grateful to emerge from the ordeal technically alive. The thought of a classroom sends shivers down the spine. The mere word study would bring them close to the edge of insanity. The experiences were painful, it is something they don’t want to even have nightmares about again if they can help it. Tell someone it’s time to study and they think it is something to be left to boffins and other academic types. 

The affliction is evident in church where the word theology and the thought of being a theologian conjures images of grim faced old gentleman with vocabulary bigger than an elephant or young bucks eager to show off their knowledge of men long since dead who wrote words in ye olde English. 

This Psalm is evidence that theology is not just about books, books and more books. In fact if anything true worship is true theology, because appreciating who God is and seeking to know Him is what theology is all about. That is done as much like enjoying a great meal or a stunning sunset as it is spending time in Scripture. 

Exploring who He is and what He has done and is doing is definitely a lifetime’s work. That work is not best done reading a book and taking notes. That delight is best experienced engaging with Him in the many ways He opens for us. Talking and listening, watching and participating. 

So here is an invitation to know Him through His wonderful works. Works that had you in mind. Works that were delivered so that you could enjoy a lifetime of beauty even in tragedy and mystery even in clarity as you dive head first into the quest that leads far beyond this life. 

It’s alright, you won’t need to go back to a classroom to get the best from the experience. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 45 – A Love Psalm 

It’s difficult to believe, but there was no deliberate planning for today. That remains the truth, however, that on this date we explore a Psalm that takes a different path to many of those that have been written to this point. 

Adoration and preparation seen in this Psalm of royal love. Fascinating to consider in what it says about the relationship and how it informs our approach to the most important relationship of all … 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 36 – About Steadfast Love and Righteousness 

The Psalmist once more starts off this Psalm with a portrayal of the wicked person that understandably isn’t complimentary. 

The main focus, however, is to the God of righteousness and steadfast love. It gets me thinking about what steadfast love is all about and why it is so closely linked. 

It’s around this time that you would rightly be expecting me to come up with a response. That would be too easy, though. I do, however, love how the two are closely related and why it remains worthwhile relating to God who engages in this way in the light of a world with people who choose to oppose that with self-centred motives. 

No wonder we want Him to continue to show that kinda love and righteousness to those who are upright in heart.

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 32 – Forgiven

There is talk about needing to forgive yourself. I understand that – it can be quite something when the biggest weight of condemnation is the one you place on yourself.

Yet, forgiveness is not primarily something we should be looking to do to ourselves. First and foremost the issue of forgiveness should be seen in the light of what it means in the light of a relationship with a loving heavenly Father. Where you and I can let each other down and where we often let ourselves down, there is a great Creator who invites into a relationship with Him. In this relationship He is faithful and just, kind and compassionate and consistently never lets us down. Yet we persistently let him down, it is a default to look to please ourselves rather than acknowledge Him. What that does to any relationship can be more than damaging.

The Psalmist in this piece can relate to what it is to live in rebellion to this God and the effect that it has on us. Yet when he finally acknowledges and confesses that sin he is the first to see the relief of forgiveness that is found in God. He knows what it is to be blessed in those ways. Truly experiencing how relieving it is to know that all your sins have been dealt with. Truly seeing that the access to a right relationship with God that is hindered by sin can have that hindrance removed through confession and acknowledgement to God.

What needs to be taught to others is just how valuable that experience can be in anyone’s life.The life of anyone who thinks they have done too much to ever be considered, someone who feels that their behaviour and inclination can never be forgiven. For them to come across the expression of grace and truth in God is the greatest release and turnaround possible. To call it liberating is a massive understatement.

No, forgiving yourself has nothing on truly experiencing and embracing the forgiveness of God and that done so that you can have a right relationship with the God who desires to be known by you.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden