Sunday, March 15, 2015

Divine Appointment

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I'm working thorugh a reading plan that goes through the Bible chronologically. A couple days ago I was reading Exodus 25. It's alot of technical details about the furniture in the tabernacle. (Not exactly devotional reading.) However, one verse stuck with me...Exodus 25:21-22. God tells Moses to make a statue of two angels and place them on top of the ark of the covenant. These two angels are called the "Mercy Seat." God tells Moses, "Put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and...there I will meet with you." 

I was just struck with that idea. There was a place where God promised he would show up. Like a divine date...this place...this time..."I'll be there." I was almost jelous of the Isrealites to have such a concrete promise of God's presence. 

But then God reminded me of another promise that Jesus made a couple thousand years later. "Behold, I am with you always..." This wasn't a promise to show up once a year, in a specfic place, for one specific person. This was Jesus declaring the God was going global & personal. Now God wasn't locked away in the back room of an ornate temple.  He was in it with us. At our schools & at our jobs. In our homes and in our cars. Wherever we are...he's right there with us.

I reminded myself how much an ancient Isrealite would envy the promise I was taking for granted. I reminded myself I need to be so much more mindful of the presence of God. He is there, we must only recognize it.

When I'm praying, I make a bad habit of asking God to "be with" this or that situation. I wonder if God ever just says to himself...I"m already there, Doug. 

A much better prayer is "make me aware of your presence, God." It's not that I need God to show up...I need to be looking for what He's already doing. Where is He leading? What does He have for me in this? What is He preparing for me? What is He protecting me from? I need to stop looking for a magic moment of divine appointment & recognize His ongoing & intimate presence.

How do you keep in the habit of staying aware of God's presence?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Off Key...On Point

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I slid into my seat at church this weekend about half-way through the first worship song. As I settled into the rhythm and melody I was confronted with something I couldn't ignore. The person sitting behind me was passtionately singing, however, the accuracy of her intonation did not match the authenticy of her worship. I don't intend to mock at all. I recognize that I have had my own pitchy moments that I'm sure were a thousand times more distracting.

Initially, I did what I imagine most people would do. I just committed to white knuckling through it. Block out the voice and try to re-engage in what I was there for in the first place...worship. However, dispite my best efforts...that was all I heard. I'll admit, I'm somewhat spoiled...my wife has an amazing voice and I love hearing her next to me in church. But this person was singing in a groove and sliding through keys that I simply couldn't find or ignore.

So at this point I was tempted to just throw in the towel on the whole service and hope the sermon made up for it. But instead, I asked God...what would you have me do here? I felt Him leading me not to ignore the voice, but to concentrate on it. As I did so, I really felt that God opened my eyes a bit and let me hear it as He did.

Before long, I wasn't hearing wrong notes or discordant harmonies...I was hearing passionate, authetic expressions of worship. I was hearing someone expressing their love for their God. I never really got to singing, myself...but I surely worshipped. And I thanked God for opening my ears...

It reminds me that my life is so often off-beat & atonal. But God loves and values me in spite of my pitchiness. So often my attempts at love & joy & peace & faithfullness, etc. are a discordant mess...but God loves me and when I let Him, He redeems my feeble attempts and makes them a symphony of holiness & worship.

So thank you, whoever you were today! You may have been off tune in my ears..but you were totally on point & God used you to lead me to worship.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Yes Ma'am

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Apparently I have a uniquely feminine voice. I say that because I often get mistaken for a woman when I talk to people on the phone. I'm beyond getting offended or having my masculinity challenged by it and I've stopped correcting people if I don't have to. Mostly, I just feel bad for the person at the other end, when I have to give them my name, ("Doug Rutter? Did you say, Deb?" No, it's Doug.) after they have been calling me ma'am for the past 5 minutes. AWKWARD!

Well the one thing I have learned is that I don't like being called honey or darling. I don't like being condesended to about technical details or mechanical issues. These are never issues I confront in person...only when my assumed fairer sex is on the phone.

But I realize that this is a gift. To be given the opportunity to experience something that you never would naturally...that's amazing! It's made me more sensitive to my own phone etiquitte. It's made me a better person to understand the experience of someone else.

It makes me think I should look for more opportunities  to broaden my understanding. Have I truly sought to understand first while watching the protestors in our inner-cities? Have I truly sought first to understand the motivations of the illegal immigrants in my country? Have I truly sought first to understand the motivations of terrorists, agitators, atheists, etc?

Isn't that what God did for me? Don't I owe that to the people who he created and loves?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving

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It's hard to argue that our modern clebration of Thanksgiving has any connection with the Pilgrims & Indians our children learn about in school.

The Pilgrims fasted first and then celebrated the God who had delivered them through a winter of suffering and starvation. We lose some wieght in anticipation of the gluttonous rampage that will take us from late November through the first of January.

The PIlgrims knew that thier very survival was due to the constant protection and provision of the God they came here to worship. We must be contstantly reminded that our abundance is not only a gift, but a massive temptation to neglect to see that God as the ultimate source of our daily bread.

Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to yams & pumpkin pie, football & shopping. But I'm praying that I don't neglect to see that everything I enjoy about this time of year is an opportunity, not for indulgence, but for whorship.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black Rage...White Outrage

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As the events of Furgeson unfolded on my television last night I was conflicted on how to feel, much less how to respond to the destruction and violence on my television. And to be perfectly honest I don't know how I feel about it except that I feel manipulated.

I feel manipulated by the leaders of the race-industry. I distrust commentators, intellectuals and community acitivits who try to convince me I should feel some sort of shame or guilt for the plight of their people. I similarly distrust the commentators & politicians who criticize them. I distrust all their motives and question their intentions. I belive they all have an interest in continuing the racial divide in our country, not ending it. 

I feel manipulated by the media. As my son sat next to me, mouth agape, I reminded him that the media are motivated (and compensated) by attention and therefore will seek (and sometimes cause) the most sensational aspects of any news-worthy event. At one time this was only true of the worst elements of tabloid press, but sadly it is the norm now. CNN seems to show the violence as an example of the legitimate outrage of an oppressed minority. Fox News seems to show the same events as an example of fake-outrage used as an excuse for bad behavior. I konw who I am inclinced to agree with, but I feel manipulated either way.

So I refulse to give into the manipulation. I will feel what I feel, but with humility and grace remind myself that I know very little about the expereice of being a poor person of color in this society. I will pray for wholeness and healing. I will pray for peace. I will avoid categories, stereotypes, assumptions & hyperbole.

I'm going to resist the tempation to have a strong opinion about this. If you know me, you not that doesn't come natually. But my natual insticts are rarely holy ones so maybe I'm on the right path.
 

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