At Philadelphia Biblical University, in the school bookstore, there is a section for used books. I don’t know who the suppliers are (a few folks who sell used books I think) but they keep several hundred volumes stacked on the shelves at low prices all year round.
As an undergrad student (and to this day) I loved walking into the bookstore and browsing through the shelves – looking for some gem to take home. So many of the books are priced between $1 and $3 it is just a beautiful opportunity to buy books.1Yes, I struggle with not buying books like the stereotypical member of the female gender struggles with not buying more shoes. 🙂
In any case, as I was perusing the shelves so many years ago I stumbled upon a small blue paperback entitled Streams of Mercy and subtitled “Receiving and Reflecting God’s Grace.” I’d never heard of the book or the author before – but I was struggling horribly with scrupulosity and so I picked up the book and went home.
I’m not sure when I actually began reading the book. It is not unusual for me to acquire a book and for it to sit on a shelf for a year or two before I actually crack it open (or even longer), but when I did, God used it as part of some major renovations He was doing in my heart and life.
Rutland’s book is not a complex theological treatise, rather it is a humble, passionate, and logical discussion of humanity’s need for mercy, God’s provision of mercy, the many ways in which we deny and ignore mercy within and without the church, and a discussion of how receiving mercy allows us to be completely changed and minister to others from the overflow we have received.
Rutland doesn’t attempt to tease out every theological complexity – instead he allows paradoxes to stand and instead focuses on what we do know and understand about the nature of God. He carefully attempts to balance his portrayal of God so as not to diminish God to a you-can’t-do-anything-wrong Grandpa in the sky.
Rutland’s book is filled with personal experiences, anecdotes, and thoughtful stories that bring me to tears. I’m reading the book again – for a third or fourth time. For anyone who knows me – you know this is astounding. I do not read books more than once. There are a very few I might read twice…and I absolutely do not read books three or four times!…and when I finish it, I have every intention of starting at the first page and reading it again and again and again.
Rutland’s book is balm for the soul and he does it in such a way as is sure to upset all forms of Christians equally and soothe all forms as well. Rutland is a charismatic Christian, but he does not emphasize or even acknowledge this within his work – instead focusing on a common truth that all Christian’s share about the grace and mercy of God.
Every once in a while I look into where this Rutland guy is and what he is up to…and always I’m impressed. Now, all glory belongs to God for the work of grace He has performed in Rutland’s life – and I am sure that he would be the first to state this…but for those who are interested, take a look at the Wikipedia article describing Rutland’s life and ministry thus far.
Dear Father, Might you extend to us grace and mercy in abundance that we might reflect your grace and mercy to others in an overwhelming manner. In Christ we pray, Amen.