Run to Win but not be Disqualified

Athletics? Nah.

I used to run a bit at school, but in my younger years. Then I got to the stage where I didn’t like running so much. I much prefer walking.

As for watching athletics, it was one of the few things my Dad would watch on TV. So I watched races and was duly intrigued by some of the stories in the races and behind the races. I remember 1988 and the furore behind the 100m final.

There was Carl Lewis, the great hope of America, up against Linford Christie, the great hope of Britain and against Ben Johnson, the great hope for Canada. Johnson won the race, claimed the gold and the adulation of his nation. Then subsequent tests showed that Johnson had ingested illegal performance enhancing drugs and in shame and scandal he had to relinquish his gold medal. He had been disqualified.

Almost 30 years later, there is still a strong degree of disgust at using performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage in the sport. Some competitors insist drug cheats should never be allowed back in the sport again. The degree to which mercy, forgiveness and restoration is lacking in this particular area is telling in the sport. Cheating spoils it for others who work hard, train diligently and apply themselves to run to win within the rules.

And that’s for a medal and a title that is temporary. The gold medal winner in 1988 is not the winner in 2008 or 2028. Time moves on, Lewis last week, becomes Michael Johnson yesterday, becomes Usain Bolt today and becomes another sporting great tomorrow.

Meanwhile there is another race the Apostle Paul referred to – a race to gain a crown that never perishes. Paul takes this race so seriously that he dare not do anything to see himself disqualified and he will get his body under control so he can be in it to win it.

That desire to be so careful in the race reminds me of the sobering words of Jesus that many will claim him as Lord, but be disqualified because He does not know them for being anything other than workers of lawlessness. They can boast all they want of the accomplishments they have racked up ‘in his name’ and still be disqualified for something a whole lot worse than using performance enhancing drugs.

I recognise how easy it is to encourage others to be faithful while I am being faithless. Talking a great talk, whipping up an enthusiasm for godly pursuits, while I am slowly sinking into a prideful selfish abyss of delusional and deceptive decay. The mercy of God has been rich in my life to wake me up to the futility and folly of the hypocrisy. To the point that when I recognise the symptoms beginning to sprout in my mind not only do I desperately pray, but I know that I need the help of my brothers in Christ to hold me up and restore me to right paths. I appreciate the support from within and without. Left to myself, I know that I wouldn’t be around and aware enough to write these words. God in His grace extends opportunity after opportunity to get on with the race and run to win.

That same grace propels me to encourage others in doing whatever it takes to focus on the only race that matters. Get ready for it. Train for it. Go for it. Do it in such a way that after you encourage others, you won’t be disqualified.

I would certainly prefer that race than athletics.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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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 123 – Mercy From Contempt 

The collection of Psalms would have informed you by now that there are plenty of good reasons for praise and worship. This particular Psalm gives another reason for worship and it is a tough reason to take. 

Worship from the pain of contempt. Enduring the pain of active insults and bitterness that’s experienced. It is as if the Psalmist knows what it is to go through the day being drenched in human waste poured on him from all angles. The stench of malice, the stink of contempt – it’s his strife and it’s his lot. So for relief, for mercy, for respite, he goes to the only source he knows. 

When there is the feeling of being overwhelmed, worship is not just a relief, it is the source of release to relay that which overwhelms you. As you do so in the posture that recognises the great one who cares for your needs, so there is found the reminder that He goes with you. Indeed He knows Himself what it is to face the deluge of the human waste that is sin. To face it and yet overcome it. Making a way for those who worship to likewise be empowered to face it and perhaps … 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 101: Singing Out For Justice 

This Psalm is not backward in coming forward. 

Sure, there are times to sing of beauty, wonder and grace. There is a time to sing of peace, sweetness and all things pleasant. That’s all good. That has its place. There is also evidently a time for us to sing about the things that matter to God. Be in no doubt in as much as His mercies endure that does not mean He is going to let the unfair, wicked and proud get away with their evil. The passion of this Psalm is palpable and challenges us as to whether the deal about justice is as close to our hearts as it flows through our actions as it clearly is to God. 

Hear the ferocity as those who do evil and are evil are summarily dismissed from God’s very presence. Consider the strong language to declare evocatively what happens to those who slanders, who are haughty, arrogant, deceitful and full of lies. There is a clear line between being merciful on one hand and tolerating the stench of iniquity in its various forms subtle and blatant. The Psalmist reflects the zero tolerance policy God has on such behaviours and attitudes. 

Sharing those qualities challenges us to share that commitment to walk with integrity. That aspect of character that is consistent and is fair, right and just whether one is observed or not. This is done not for the attention of men, but because that is what someone is when reflecting God. 

That challenge is something worth singing about as well as the lovely sentiments to a beautiful Saviour. Not just singing about them, either … 

Think on these things. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 100 – Why Worship? Here’s Three Good Reasons

Three reasons to worship God. 

1. For the Lord is good; 

2. His mercy is everlasting, 

3. His truth endures to all generations.
Think on these things. 

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

Jonah’s Journey 4 – Running against God

There is a desire among some for a story or a recounting of a life episode to have a neat and complete resolution. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy, slight misunderstanding, great return to each other, boy and girl live happily ever after. The story of Jonah refuses to be resolved so smoothly.

The final chapter of the book goes full circle to reveal more about Jonah as well as reaffirming key attributes about God. As it does so, there remains much we can gain insight on regarding the human condition and the character of God. What’s also striking is the nature of the ongoing dialogue between the two. An ongoing dialogue that does not easily resolve itself for either party, but one that invites us to constantly run with God rather than against Him to know Him and more of ourselves as a result.

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