Miles Davis: Created to Enjoy the Masterpiece

August 31

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning… every day I find something creative to do with my life.” ~ Miles Davis

  
I watch my children sleep, sometimes. I wonder if my dad ever snuck in and did the same when I was a kid… I bet he did.

I’m not confident enough to say this with any certainty so let’s just call this next statement a… hypothesis, but… I think maybe one of the reasons God created man was not just for His own companionship but also because He wanted to inspire someone. Ridiculous? I suppose. I mean, why would the creator of all this feel any need to inspire anything in the first place? He doesn’t need my approval. He’s certainly not insecure. But maybe God just wanted someone to share all this beauty with. More then that, I think God wanted someone to enjoy and revel in what He had created purely for their enjoyment in the first place. God makes the heavens and the earth then stands back and realizes something: there’s no creature yet made to truly enjoy His master-piece. Imagine a Picaso without a gallery! The angels were created to worship God from their inner most being but man was created to actually experience emotion for the first time ever. Where the angels were seemingly programmed to worship from inception, man – from his inception – was created to experience worship and made to desire worship. There is a very distinct difference there. And a fundamental part of the difference between man and seraphim is our innate ability to experience God through an understanding of all that He has created. Angels know nothing beyond the glory of God, nothing else in their thought process ever goes beyond that. Pretty awesome, granted. Man, on the other hand barely achieves even the slightest glimpse of Gods full glory yet… man has been given the gift of experiencing Gods glory through several outlets, most frequently, the shared ability to worship God like the angels. But our worship is more meaningful to Him because we have chosen to do so through our free will. Not that angels are forced to do so, just that they know of nothing else but the worship of God.

The unique relationship of God and man is so complicated that it must confound the angels. They sit with fascination and wonder at the feeble creature God molded from the dirt. That’s why they celebrate and cheer each time this feeble creature once again declares (willingly) to give away their heart to God. We are the only creature given free will, the only one who can make such a choice.

God wants to be an inspiration to man. He longs to inspire us. His inspiration is just one manner in which He can be acknowledged for the great things He creates and what He does. I get it… sort of. I inspire nobody. But part of the joy of having children is the possibility of maybe inspiring someone in my short life. I can inspire them to be like me. I can inspire them to be NOT like me – though I hope more for the former! Like God, the effort is a tireless one, but there are moments of joyful pay-off even if it sometimes comes in the dead of night as they sleep. This is when I see their true potential at rest, just waiting to awake and go BE who they’ve been created to be. Unlike God, the inspiration ultimately is faulty. But I can still teach them where to look for that inspiration which will not fail them. And if I teach them nothing else but how to do that, well… that will be inspiration enough on my part!

God is pretty cool, how He set things up. He inspires me with each new breath He allows me to take. I see all that He has made. I feel the strength and peace He gives me. And… I am inspired the most each time I worship Him in praise. But mostly, His inspiration is felt the most with each kiss from my beautiful wife and every hug my children steal from me each day… that, alone, is inspiration enough for me to keep on going!

Peace, to you today. Sean Gutteridge

 

Today’s Scripture: Genesis 1:3-5

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.

5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

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Oswald Chambers: In This State of Humility

August 30

“When a man is at his wits end it is not a cowardly thing to pray. It is the only way he can get in touch with reality.”  ~ Oswald Chambers

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There is nothing more beautiful then a humble heart; nothing so pure as a contrite spirit. God oppresses the proud; I am on my knees tonight.

Have I allowed God’s supernatural grace to position me into a state of BEING good in motive & not just in action? This is the very question Oswald Chambers posed to me today in my morning devotion and it grips me – I cannot stop thinking and pondering this very question. Far too often, to the naked eye, my actions are above reproach but it’s in the motives where things get a little murky. It seems funny to say “have I allowed” but humility is a position just as much it is a state.

I can be positioned by God and I can position myself out of sheer will-power. It is the state of humility which I seek to be found in. I will walk in Truth, tomorrow, just as I have today. But the longer I find myself NOT in a pure state of humility the more difficult it may become for God to get me there. Even more impossible will I be able to position myself there because I will eventually stop desiring to be there. But in prayer, through praise, in seeking this position out moment by moment I can become more and more comfortable there that my longing to stay and reside there overtakes my current goal of just visiting there on occasion.

What a great place to be when God no longer needs to humble me because He finds me already there, basking in His presence in true humility and gratitude. And that is where it begins… A gratitude born of praise as I acknowledge everything about sovereign placement above ALL things – particularly myself. It’s not difficult to recognize His un-surpassing Grace but I still must yield to it fully… in times of trouble and in times of tranquil peace and quiet. Let your humility raise your hearts to a more consistent state of humbleness before Him. Peace, SAG

 

Today’s Scripture: 2 John 1:4

4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth,

just as we were commanded by the Father.

George Bernard Shaw: In This State of Forced Rest

August 29

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. 

~ George Bernard Shaw

The body sometimes just shuts down and maybe this happens for a number of reasons: we need brief reminders of our mortality and fragility, as if the body tells us “not yet… But this is your reminder that I don’t run forever…” Perhaps it shuts down because we don’t always know when to rest but it does and it just can’t go another step. Maybe the body and the mind got some secret under the table deal going, using your back to get behind you because if you won’t take a break, well by golly, they sure will and like it or not, you’re getting dragged along with them. And maybe the body just tells you something like “your mamma always told you not to go out in blizzard’s without your warm coat stupid… don’t come crying to me now about it!”

I run my body and my mind into the ground – sometimes it’s just plain hard – grinding it out – day after day work. Sometimes I use worry (my favorite body driven into dust vehicle) to do the trick. Other times, I just let my body get out of shape, eating bad and not exercising, not getting it prepared for tough, busy season up ahead and when the seasons arrive… it’s not prepared to handle the physical and mental stress that’s required. There are lots of ways I can run my body down – not all of them completely bad by themselves and in moderation – but I do it. I go until there is no more go left. Then at some point my body cries “Foul!” And as if in unison, my soul and my mind and every other member of the body union walk off the job. It’s a mass walk-out and they know they got me and there isn’t a darn thing I can do about it. The body goes on strike and it doesn’t come off the pickett line until it’s good and ready.

When I get sick, I crash for days. I completely shut down and let me tell you… that’s 72 hours of hell! Sick as a dog dying in a desert with no water. I don’t move, I don’t talk (I mumble a lot so my wife says). I don’t function. I am sick. And it’s no vacation. You think I’d at least catch up on reading or writing or dreaming between the cold sweats and the 100+ spiking temperatures and body aches but the body coordinates the strike well. Everything shuts down simultaneously to the point where I can’t think a straight thought for longer then 60 seconds. It sucks. But then, life and consciousness slowly ebb back into focus, just enough at first so I can start deciding what to do differently, how I came to such a hideous state, that is exactly what I do. In between marathon episodes of some Netflix serious I’ll never remember, I reach for my phone or my journal and make little notes like “Slow down” or “What’s to worry about” and “Time is currency… and you broke, sucka!” (Probably my favorite this last go around). Then back into the semi coma filled with the aches and sweats.

The first recollection of going to the bathroom and actually looking in the mirror – and I assume it’s not my first trip because I’m not wearing adult diapers and I don’t smell like pee, it’s just the first trip I’m fully conscious of – is a frightful image. I’m pretty sure I was wearing those same sweats two days ago and though the pile of shirts I tripped over getting off my couch tells me I’ve been changing out of sweat drenched tee shirts non-stop, for a second I actually check to see if Rene somehow put some adulties on me which would be a pretty cool trick if that were the case but thankfully… it is not. So I deduce that in some crazy, zombie-fied way, I’ve been functional enough to get the necessities of life taken care of. (Of which brushing my hair and shaving are obviously not among these). I am a hideous sight. Another thought which reinforces my desire that NO one will be permitted hospital visits on the outside chance that I ever actually ALLOW myself to be taken to one willingly. It’s apparent that there are some rogue body members still at work within me – whom I shall handsomely reward with dip-cones and large shakes should I ever recover. But the body does have me thinking now and I think at the center of its demands, this is really the core of it all… for me to think about these things which drive me to such a warn down state. Brushing my teeth and showering feels good, better then a meal – cause I’m still far away from anything thicker then some chicken broth at this junction.

Collapsing back onto my quarantined couch, the aches won’t let me sleep just yet so I get as comfortable as possible. Turn on the overhead fan. And I thank God for giving me this time with Him – sick as I am – and I tell Him “I got a psalm for you… remind me of it later… I’ll write it when you tell the fingers and the brain think they can go back to work…” and I’m out again for who knows how many hours.

I always know God is behind it all. Yeah, I brought myself to this place but in His mercy, sometimes I see He has to take some extreme measures to help get me centered again. And the only way He knows how to do it when I’ve been ignoring His gentle hints is to just physically shut me down. It takes me a good while to fully get back 100% – oh, I’ll be functioning and back in action in a week or so but my voice won’t resonate as clear nor as strong. I’ll move a lot slower and get tired much quicker for a good while longer and it’ll take time to where I’m running on all cylinders again. But He uses this time to plant some pretty wise thoughts inside me and when all the body workers come back I’ll be doing a lot more listening and a little less telling. Then next time we take a break, I’ll be the one telling them “come on fellas… let’s shut down the factory, turn off the lights and call it a day… let’s go take a vacation and get out of here – this stuff will be here when we get back!”

This factory doesn’t run itself and it won’t run forever. But I’d hate to see it shut down before God has had the chance to get everything He needs out it. Being sick isn’t so bad when you have the right mind to listen, rest and think peacefully. But all the same, next time I just assume go to Hawaii for the week if it’s alright with you.

Peace, today. SAG

 

Today’s Scripture: 1 Kings 5:4-5

4 But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side. There is neither adversary nor misfortune.

5 And so I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.’

Duke Ellington: An Uncomfortable Burden

StationVI Blog

August 28

“My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never.”

~ Duke Ellington

I often contemplate the balance between free-will, permissive will and perfect will; what can happen and what God ultimately wants to happen. On one hand, we have choices we are allowed to make and yet, the Word says many are the plans of man but God’s Will (or plans) prevail. I don’t believe that’s an inconsistency in the scriptures. But there’s something hidden there which holds the key to a balanced life. It’s easy to say “Just obey God; follow His will.” It’s not that easy. Nothing ever IS, where the human spirit is concerned.

How do you respond to the things that God lays upon your heart? Where do you turn when burdened? How desperate and fervent are your prayers to be heard by God or have they become mere actions of pretenses only…

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Duke Ellington: An Uncomfortable Burden

August 28

“My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never.” 

~ Duke Ellington

 I often contemplate the balance between free-will, permissive will and perfect will; what can happen and what God ultimately wants to happen. On one hand, we have choices we are allowed to make and yet, the Word says many are the plans of man but God’s Will (or plans) prevail. I don’t believe that’s an inconsistency in the scriptures. But there’s something hidden there which holds the key to a balanced life. It’s easy to say “Just obey God; follow His will.” It’s not that easy. Nothing ever IS, where the human spirit is concerned.

How do you respond to the things that God lays upon your heart? Where do you turn when burdened? How desperate and fervent are your prayers to be heard by God or have they become mere actions of pretenses only uttered to precede your own desires? That is a stinging indictment upon MY own heart by God’s Holy Spirit and personally, well… I am convicted.

When the burdens of The Lord are laid upon your heart, stop immediately what you’re doing and dwell on these things. God has laid His burdens on your heart for a reason and it now becomes our responsibility to discover what it is He needs us to do and how we are to respond. Are you conscious of the burdens He brings to you? Are you meditating on them to the point of weeping and fasting? God has given us the free will to do what we want but when He burdens you pay attention: there is something very specific He needs from us. Listen for His voice and tune your ear carefully to discover precisely what His perfect Will is. He will reveal it and until I obediently follow it, my heart will continue to be burdened. It is meant to make me feel… uncomfortable.

Peace, today. Sean Gutteridge

 

Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 1:4-6

4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

5 And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,

6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.

Thomas Aquinas: A Virtuous Responsibility

August 27

“Perfection of moral virtue does not wholly take away the passions,

but regulates them.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

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The virtue of a pure heart should be cherished and protected. It should be nurtured and cultivated.

I have to be careful as a dad with these precious commodities and beautiful little hearts I’ve been entrusted with. God has tasked me with the responsibility of heart-shaping and as a parent, well… it is far too easy to crush or even snuff out the pure qualities that The Lord has instilled within my children.

It’s not really a difficult job, but it does require some diligence and consistency to protect the qualities God has put within the hearts of my kids. Sometimes what seems annoying are the very tiny details that God needs me to pay most attention to. I get busy, and in my busyness, it’s all to easy to dismiss my children. They desire attention and my time and with every dismissal, I create one more hard stone built up for The Lord to one day break down. If I’m not careful, over time, I can slowly strip away each perfect virtue until all that is left is a spirit of doubt, cynicism and mockery that will leave them wary of God’s unconditional Love and His Grace.

I can’t be the perfect father. I will make mistakes. I will error often in mistaking boundaries with laziness. And I will dismiss them when they need me most. It has happened. It will happen again. But the Holy Spirit will never stop guiding me and prompting me in my role as a dad. And the great thing about young, pure hearts: they’re pretty resilient and strong. They are also very forgiving. I am always amazed how so little attention and time it really takes, when the time and attention is of the highest quality, to take a strong and pure virtuous heart and re-enforce it in the strength, security and love of Christ. Nothing could be easier, really. Again… it just takes a little bit of my time and deep attention!

No one has a greater influence or opportunity to shape the hearts and minds of my children then my wife and I. But if I dismiss them and neglect this opportunity, someone or something will eventually step into my rightful role to shape and influence my kids. And THAT is a chilling thought. Peace, Sean Gutteridge

 

Today’s Scriptures: 1 John 3:16-18

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

John 3:16-17

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Mary Anne Radmacher: Hope of Tomorrow, Promise of Today

August 26  

“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering “I’ll try again tomorrow…” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

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You know, for most of my life, tomorrow will come. There will on be one time and one time only when it will not. Those aren’t bad odds, really. Understanding that I can be at times the world’s foremost authority on the subject of procrastination, this isn’t a devotion on the merits of procrastinating or on putting things off. But given my own mind-set and temperament, I also happen to be an authority on dwelling on today’s mistakes and the doom that many of my tomorrows seem to hold over me. In short – I over think most things. It’s a problem.

There are times when it takes great courage to face tomorrow knowing what potentially awaits me, whether I’ve prepared well or put things off. The sense of dread and doom remain the same, actually. I am so busy using the failure of today as proof that tomorrow will be no better and I can exhaust myself until I literally can’t think straight. But there are two things that God gives me in these moments: He gives me the promise of today and He gives me rest. There is no promise of tomorrow until it turns into today, so really, whether I awake or not doesn’t matter. If I don’t wake to see tomorrow, I am in the best of all places and if I find myself fortunate and blessed enough to get to rise and see the day, I awake with that fresh, new promise of His that every provision and need will be given me by the Lord to handle today. In these moments, God also gives me rest; but rest hinges upon what I will do with it. Will I spend it toiling and thinking and worrying? Or can I learn to recognize these moments – sometimes even days – of rest when He offers it to me? God tells us to set aside time to rest, but we still have to take that action step of actually setting aside our schedules and activities to give our bodies, minds and souls time to take advantage of getting renewed and refueled.

How are we managing our moments of rest? What am I doing in those moments of rest? Am I dwelling on the holiness of my God and deciphering the magnificent plan He has laid before me or am I wasting away this valuable time He gives in idleness and complacency; worry and fretting? There is always work to be done but sometimes I think I work when He wants me to rest and rest when there is much work to be done. In the end, I think God just throws up His hands and allows me to go about my business, maybe figuring that eventually – when I’ve finally exhausted myself – perhaps I’ll have no place to turn but to Him! Thankfully, there is a decent possibility that if I’ve mishandled things today, I’ll probably get a brand new opportunity to fully take advantage of His Rest, His Power and all He offers tomorrow!

Peace, SAG

Today’s Scripture: Leviticus 23:3

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

Charlotte Bronte: Clearing Away the Clutter

August 25

“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.” ~ Charlotte Bronte

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Sometimes I just need to clean my office or my car out as nothing more then for purely symbolical reasons. Call it a cleansing, call it a purging, but I come to this moment where I am on the verge – on the very edge of some huge precipice and all activity stops, mentally, and I understand that I will accomplish no more until my office, my vehicle or both are clean. It may not look clean to others but I just start cleaning until I hear this inner voice inside me proclaim “Yup. That’s it. That’s good enough. Now we can get back to work.”

I am so restless right now. There is a great stirring inside me and I don’t know quite how to handle it. It’s like I’m unable to center myself on anything, especially God. That’s a bad place to be. But I still keep trying to get before Him and truthfully… that’s actually a really good place to be. In my restlessness, cleaning my office or my car out could help, but it will only be in deep prayer that I will be able to clear out the clutter in my soul in order to hear the clarity and direction from the Lord that I so desperately need.

Prison, Uganda, the church, the band, youth ministry, home group, any and every ministry I may be involved in at the moment… none of it matters right now. Not because it’s not important, but because I’ve stopped making critical decisions for the time being until such time as I can clearly hear which direction the Lord truly wants me to head out in. For now, I’ll keep praying… and tidying up things in my little corner here. God will speak when He is certain that I’ll hear Him. So I gotta get the rest of this clutter and noise out of here. There can be no clarity and certaintly no rest until some of the cutter gets cleared away. Cleaning my office and my car will be easy; clearing the clutter away from my heart may take a little more time…  but I’m on it!

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Peace, today. SAG

Today’s Scripture: 3 John 1:9-10

9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.

10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Renewed To Renew

Monday is always a good day to renew myself.

StationVI Blog

August 24

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Where does your exhaustion come from? Is it the tireless work for the Lord which makes you tired? Or is it from the selfish search for your own hearts desires? I know why I’m tired. Believe it or not, the more selfish and lazy I am, the more fatigue sets in. Straining against God’s Will for our lives will cause such a fatigue within our spirits that will be most difficult to overcome. Why? Because it is a fatigue that God is unable to reduce due to the selfish source from which it derives.

If I am unable to be refreshed by the Holy Spirit, how can I possibly hope to be a refreshing source of love, faith and encouragement to others? Exhaust yourself today in the work…

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Harriet Beecher Stowe: Renewed To Renew

August 24

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”      ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Where does your exhaustion come from? Is it the tireless work for the Lord which makes you tired? Or is it from the selfish search for your own hearts desires? I know why I’m tired. Believe it or not, the more selfish and lazy I am, the more fatigue sets in. Straining against God’s Will for our lives will cause such a fatigue within our spirits that will be most difficult to overcome. Why? Because it is a fatigue that God is unable to reduce due to the selfish source from which it derives.

If I am unable to be refreshed by the Holy Spirit, how can I possibly hope to be a refreshing source of love, faith and encouragement to others? Exhaust yourself today in the work and calling of The Lord and you will find yourself well rested and renewed in the midst of your sweat, blood and your tears! Allow the Holy Spirit renew your spirit and soul and watch how much more you can do!

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture: Philemon 1:7

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.