What is "Up!"?

"Up! – Get up, look up, be up" is a daily e-mail devotional written by Rev. Matthew Ruttan, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Barrie, Ontario. It is published five days a week (Tuesday to Saturday), and is something you can read in about one minute. I started my subscription about a month ago, and I found the devotionals practical, easy to read, and creative. I wondered, "How and why does this busy pastor, with a young family and a dynamic church, find the time and energy to write five devotionals a week?" So… I asked him. He told me that he previously subscribed to some e-mail devotionals that he found helpful, but sometimes seemed vague or not connected to his day-to-day life. He also told me that he enjoys writing and that he thought God wanted him to write as a part of his ministry. It fit well with his overall ministry focus on teaching, some of which was firmly rooted in online ministry through a blog, website, and social media. Matthew reminded me that Jesus met people where they were – on hillsides, by the lake, at the workplace. Today the majority of people, and especially younger people, are spending lots of time online – sometimes in positive ways, and sometimes in unhelpful ways. It is Matthew's hope that his online devotionals will help people in very straightforward and practical ways to get on board with the reality of God's imaginative plans for our lives and our world.

UP! started in April 2015 with a few dozen followers. A year later, the daily subscribers total almost 300. Subscribers include members of his congregation, a wider group of people from Canada and the U.S.A., and even a few from elsewhere in the world.

I asked Matthew, "What is your motivation to continue?" He said, "Jesus and His kingdom are the motivation. Seeing people mature in their faith is the motivation. As the ministry grows, I personally know fewer and fewer of the subscribers, but from what I can tell, the readership is very diverse. There are devout Christians who receive it, as well as people new to the faith, and many who are just curious about this whole Jesus thing. It's energizing to see how a range of people can be helped in real, day-to-day ways in their faith. Plus, it keeps me growing as a leader. Just like a sermon, each devotional I write is first written to me. So writing this devotional keeps me "up" on my toes about living with integrity as a follower of Jesus."

I also asked him, "How do you find the time to write five devotionals a week?" He answered, "I get that question a lot! I'm disciplined with how I use my time. I set time aside each morning to read and write. I don't have an exact count, but I probably read between 20 and 40 books a year. And when you produce a lot of content like I do (blogs, devotionals, sermons, Bible studies), you very quickly develop a system for cataloging ideas, inspiring quotes, and helpful stories. That really helps. So if I want to use a story I heard Fred Craddock tell or a quote that C.S. Lewis said, I have a system where I can pull it up in about 30 seconds. Plus, I really enjoy writing, so it's a part of my day I look forward to, and that gives me energy for other things."

Wherever you are in your journey of faith, I think that you'll find these short, practical devotionals a great part of your day. Want to learn more and be blessed? Just visit www.MatthewRuttan.com/Up and you can sign up in 13 seconds.

Linda Shaw
Past Chair of the Renewal Fellowship Board
Coordinator, Renewal Fellowship Prayer Calendar