Pragmatic Communion

pragmatic living in the presence of God

two minutes with God: Philippians 4:8

a Quote:
“An intellectual is one who loves ideas, is dedicated to clarifying them, developing them, criticizing them, turning them over and over, seeing their implications, stacking them atop one another, arranging them, sitting silent while new ideas pop up and old ones seem to rearrange themselves, playing with them, punning with their terminology, laughing at them, watching them clash, picking up the pieces starting over, judging them, withholding judgment about them, changing them, bringing them into contact with their counterparts in other systems of thought . . . suiting them for service in workaday life. A Christian intellectual is all of the above to the glory of God.”

and

“…the true intellectual occasionally sees some things, makes true observations and has insights that few, if any before him have seen or had. If there is any danger in this, it is not in having a one-track mind, but in having a mind with so many tracks that it either arrives at many places at the same time or it never gets out of the station.(emphasis added)

(from Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling by James W. Sire)

my Prayer:
Intellectual? That sounds so much better than “I just over think everything,” which we both know I have a tendency to do, Lord. Sometimes my head is filled with so many thoughts and ideas, I can’t focus. Sometimes I weigh alternatives to the point of inaction. So frustrating.

Even so, thank you for my love of reading and learning and thinking. And thank you for my limitations, both real and self-perceived. They keep me grounded and authentic. It’s so easy for education and knowledge to displace my trust in – and dependence on – YOU, especially in times of confusion or when circumstances seem . . . irrational.

Thank you for every day that I wake up with more knowledge and understanding than I had the day before. At the same time, thank you for making it crystal clear to me that – compared to all that is possible to know and understand in this world – I know and understand about as much as can be contained within grain of sand.

Thank you for the intricate details in this world, from the greatest wonders to the tiniest. That you are evident in the awesome beauty of the Grand Canyon as well as in the first breath of a newborn infant is just a peek at your perfect plan and limitless power. Every creation is filled with opportunities for discovery, every problem is an opportunity for ingenuity,

Through your power and grace and mercy, please help me to learn from my mistakes. Please help me to make different and better decisions based on what I’ve learned. Please bless me with insights and ideas and imagination, even if they sometimes overwhelm me. I want all that I am and think and feel to lead me to choices that place me in the center of your will. For your glory.

the Word:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Philippians 4:8

the lyric:
“With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, with all the strength that I can find. Take my time here on this earth and let it glorify all that You are worth. For I am nothing, I am nothing without You ”
from Nothing Without You (youtube link) by Bebo Norman (amazon link)

and if you have an extra 3:33 minutes…


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

(Christian brain image from wallpaper4god.com)

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May 25, 2011 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, faith, music, prayer, spiritual growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

two minutes with God: 1st Thessalonians 5:17

a Quote:
“O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end do Thou prosper me with thy assistance, receive all my works and possess all my affections.”
(from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence)
(CLICK HERE to read the free online version)

my Prayer:
Lord, after being so distant from you during my “drift,” I’m desperate for a constant awareness of your presence in my life. I want to spend every waking moment with you, but I have to do stuff. Like chauffeur kids, load the dishwasher, work on my web page, train clients, write emails, talk on the phone….

I know I can’t attend to all these regular, everyday tasks while I pray in the way my small mind thinks prayer “should” be. I can’t load the dishwasher and write in my prayer journal at the same time. I don’t know how to “abide” and write HTML code at the same time. I can’t seem to consistently involve You in my conversations when I talk to someone else at the same time.

PLEASE teach me how to do all the things I have to do with You at the center of my consciousness. I want to come to the end of the day and know, without doubt or regret, that I spent it with You.

the Word:
“pray continually”
1st Thessalonians 5:17 (NAS)

the lyric:
“Is Your voice upon the wind? Is everything I’ve known marked with my maker’s fingerprints? Breathe on me. Let me see Your face. Ever I will seek You. ‘Cause all You are, is all I want, always. Draw me close in Your arms, oh God, I wanna be with You.”
from Always (youtube link) by Hillsong (Live) (amazon link)

and if you have an extra 4:02 minutes…


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

May 10, 2011 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, faith, music, prayer, spiritual growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

two minutes with God: 1 Kings 19:10-15

a Quote:
“Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual lives. We feel no desire to pray, don’t experience God’s presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.

Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.(emphasis added)

(from Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith and
The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life both by Henri Nouwen)

my Prayer:
Lord, I’m going to keep listening for your voice even when I think I can’t hear you.
I’m going to keep looking for you even when I think I can’t find you.
I’m going to keep talking to you even when I think I’m not making sense.
I’m going to keep reading your word even when I think I don’t understand it.
I’m going to keep serving you even when I’m not sure I’m doing any good at all.
I’m going to keep singing to you, knowing you can hear both my words and my heart.

Lord, I know these thoughts and feelings are lies. I’m so thankful that my faith isn’t grounded in them because they are temporary. You are eternal. And you are here with me, whether I can sense your presence or not. Thank you for that knowledge, it’s my rock.

the Word:
“He [Elijah] replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.”

1 Kings 19:14-15(NAS)

My Paraphrase:
Elijah: “wah, wah, wah, I just witnessed your unlimited power, but now I’m sad and I feel alone.”
God: “I am HERE. Why are you still here?”
Elijah: “wah, wah, wah, I just witnessed your unlimited power, but now I’m sad and I feel alone.”
God: “Go. You have work to do, and whining isn’t on your to-do list.”

1 Kings 19:10-15(NAS)

the lyric:
“This is my prayer in the desert, when all that’s within me feels dry. This is my prayer in my hunger and need, my God is the God who provides…I will rejoice, I will declare, God is my victory and He is here.”
from Desert Song by Hillsong

“Come Holy One, awaken me, to your design, from my sleep.”
from Your Name by Curtis Froisland


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Communion blog.

April 5, 2011 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, faith, music, prayer, spiritual growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

two minutes with God: Deuteronomy 16:17

a Quote:
“…understanding ownership was half of my lesson. If God was the owner, I was the manager. I needed to adopt a steward’s mentality toward the assets He had entrusted – not given – to me.

A steward manages assets for the owner’s benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It’s his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will.”
(from The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn)

my Prayer:
Lord, scheduling tithe checks on bill pay is some serious fun! Thank you for the joy we feel in this obedience. THANK YOU for the provision of my husband’s bonus and THANK YOU for the opportunity to give even more than we normally do. The feeling that comes from giving back some of the money you’ve entrusted to us is like an adrenaline high! Thank you that we never regret it or begrudge it. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you this way. We pray that we’ve interpreted your will correctly and sent your money where you wanted it to go. We pray that you will abundantly bless the efforts of those to whom you have sent it and we trust you to work all things for your good and your glory.

Our continuous prayer is that you help us to be good stewards of everything you entrust to us and to help us achieve our goal of becoming debt-free. Thank you for this answer to our prayer. Thank you for providing a means for more debt reduction. We profoundly understand what a blessing this job is and even more the blessing of this bonus. Thank you, Lord.

the Word:
“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”
Deuteronomy 16:17 (NAS)

the lyric:
“Rich or poor God I want You more, than anything that glitters in this world. Be my all, all consuming fire.
You can have all my hands can hold, my heart, mind, strength and soul, Be my all, all consuming fire.
All we need, all we need, all we need is You.”
from All We Need (youtube link) by Charlie Hall (amazon link)


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

March 17, 2011 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, giving, gratitude, music, prayer, spiritual growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

two minutes with God: Proverbs 27:17

a Quote:
“We all need someone in our lives at times to coach us to greater and greater levels of excellence in our chosen areas of pursuit.”

“Come to the edge, He said. They said, We are afraid. Come to the edge, He said. They came. He pushed them . . . and they flew.” Guillaume Apollinaire

(from The Aladdin Factor by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen)

my Prayer:
Lord, please lead me to anyone who can honestly and objectively guide me to greater levels of excellence in my pursuits to nurture my family, serve in ministry and achieve competence in my career. Please help me to discern and listen to the voices that come from you and to discard the lies Satan tries to tell me in an effort to throw me off your path for my life. If you would strike Satan mute, that would be perfect, Lord. (sigh) But I know that’s not how you work, so please bless me with discernment.

Thank you for the determination to work harder when I come face to face with the reality that I’m not as good at something as I think I am. Please Lord, help me to acknowledge my strengths and to remember that when I discount them, I discount your blessings in my life. Please help me to be satisfied with my work when I do well, instead of constantly critiquing myself.

the Word:
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbts 27:17 (NIV)

the lyric.
“But the voice of truth tells me a different story. The voice of truth says, ‘Do not be afraid!’ The voice of truth says, ‘This is for My glory.’ Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”
Voice of Truth (youtube link) by Casting Crowns (amazon link)


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

January 28, 2011 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, music, prayer, professional growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

two minutes with God: 1 Samuel 14:8-10

a Quote:
“Is it possible you have been fleecing your divine moments rather than seizing them? That you’ve said to God, “I’m not doing anything, risking anything, or going anywhere until You give me a sign? Have you chosen to live in safety, comfort and convenience, justifying this lifestyle because God hasn’t called you to a different life? Is your justification for living a low-risk life the absence of a sign to live differently?”
Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment
by Erwin Raphael McManus

my Prayer:
Lord, please help me to remember that striving to step out into a new ministry doesn’t mean I have to abandon my current work. I can use the time you’ve given me more efficiently, I can change what I do with my discretionary time, deciding against the pointless idleness that masquerades as rest and pursuing my passion instead.

Please help me to choose activities during rest that are truly restorative, not mind-numbing and time-sucking.

Please help me say no to the lesser things to make room for the greater things, even when those lesser things seem “good.” Please help me to be a better steward of my time and resources.

Please help me to make wise financial decisions so I can use the revenue from my current work to support my ministry. Lord please illuminate my next step as I navigate the unknown future. Please prompt me to TAKE a step instead of letting my feet grow roots from indecision and fear.

the Word:
Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the LORD has given them into our hands.”
1 Samuel 14:8-10(NIV)

the lyric.
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?
Our God
by Chris Tomlin


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

December 7, 2010 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, music, prayer, two minutes with God | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

crazy woman singing in the van singing WHAT? “Glory to God Forever”

Loving the new praise song this week: “Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever. Take my life and let it be all for you and for your glory. Take my life and let it be yours.”


For more Saturday music, check out Then Sings My Soul Saturday every Saturday hosted by Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

August 21, 2010 Posted by | christian living, music, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

freedom to be different

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]
Colossians 3:21 The Amplified Bible

My daughter is a free spirit.

She sings. Loud. She sings Disney princess songs and hymns. Praise songs and jingles. She sings her own personal compositions. Sometimes they rhyme, sometimes not. Her own songs are l-o- n-g. She sings about everything. Love. Jesus. Her Heart. Disney. Sometimes she throws in a line about gross bodily functions before cracking herself up because it is SO hysterically funny. (She’s 7.) She sings in the car and doesn’t care who stares. She will climb to the top of a playground structure and sing her songs to an audience in the sky. She doesn’t care if people can hear her. She wants people to hear her.

Please don’t tell her to be quiet.

She dances. She twirls. She vogues. She bounces. She skips. She runs when and where there is open space. She swings. HIGH. She calls out “Watch me!” and wants me to take her picture. This is what happy looks like.

Please don’t tell her to sit still.

She loves to dress up. She can’t watch “Annie” without pausing the DVD player for multiple costume changes. She “invents” outfits and hairstyles. She wears prints with stripes, pink with orange and mismatched socks for “flair.” She loves lipstick and jewelry. She loves pink. Not pastel pink. PEPTO pink! BOLD pink.

Please don’t “correct” her wardrobe selections.

She loves to perform. The fireplace hearth is her stage. She wrote a play when she was in pre-kindergarten. She sat in a chair for hours on a Friday night, writing on one piece of paper after another. When it was all said and done, written on each piece of paper were the lines of each character in her play. When I typed it up for her later, she knew immediately which paper to read from next as she dictated the dialog for me. The spelling was creative, but the play was complete with a hero, a villain, a quest, and lots of songs to sing.

Please don’t tell her to “act like the other kids.”

She finds wonder in so many things. A lizard hiding in the grass. A crushed acorn. The shape of a cloud. She can’t go for a walk around the block without stopping every few feet to pick up a leaf, pet a neighbor’s cat or point out something interesting. She wants to see everything and go everywhere. And she wants to tell you all about it. Because it’s made such an imprint on her, she believes she should share it.

Please don’t make absentminded comments when she’s talking to you. She’s smart. She knows.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s not wild and undisciplined. She understands that she should whisper in a library, sit quietly attentive and respectfully listen to her teachers in class, and wear her uniform to school. She understands that sometimes she needs to follow directions instead of direct her own elaborate scripts. She knows to share and to take something she finds to lost and found. She knows that if we forget to pay for the case of soda under the grocery cart, that we are going back inside the store to make it right. She knows proper manners for the using the phone, how to handle a laptop computer and how to carry scissors. She understands that she can’t break out of line at school to chase a lizard or twirl. She knows not to run in a parking lot and to look both ways before she crosses the street. She knows to wear shorts under her skirts so no one can see “London” and that she can’t wear makeup to school and church. She even knows the only time her belly button should show in public is when she is wearing a bathing suit.

What she doesn’t know yet is that someday she may be too embarrassed to express herself “out loud” like she does now. She hasn’t spent time with “that” person. You know, the person who will try to convince her that her free and confident self-expression is inappropriate or wrong. The person who will introduce doubt and self-consciousness.

I pray that when faced with that person – that criticism – she is confident enough to stand strong and be herself. I refuse to silence her just because of what other people might think. I refuse to force her to wear what I think she should or tell her that she should only wear two braids, instead of six. I refuse to make her sit down when there’s no reason she can’t run. I refuse to squelch her spirit – just because it’s different than mine.

Sometimes it looks like she is dancing without music. She’s not. The music is in her heart. We can hear it if we just listen.

Not allowing your children to do innocent but different things is the logical outgrowth of a belief system that emphasizes the symbols of faith rather than it’s substance. This shallow religion measures success more by the image than by genuine authenticity.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Grace Based Parenting

February 19, 2008 Posted by | books, grace, moms, music, parenting | 6 Comments

taking every opportunity

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:1

We watch Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel. By “we,” I mean our entire family. Our house is laid out so that the kitchen and the family room are pretty much one big room. So when Hannah Montana is on the TV, it’s difficult to miss. Truth is, I like it. We all like it. We like it so much that we have the DVR set to record all showings. ALL showings. So we’ve watched the same episodes more than a few times. I’m right there with Lysa when she says she turns Hannah Montana UP, and not off, when her daughter gets out of the car!

There’s one episode where Hannah is on a talk show with another teen pop star, named Mikala. Mikala is singing her new hit song and Hannah is clearly enjoying it. Hannah seems genuinely happy for Mikala’s success. Mikala finishes the song, Hannah gives her a big girly hug and then the talk show cuts to a commercial break. That’s when Mikala lets Hannah know she’s not a Hannah fan. Then we watch Hannah change. We watch Hannah do the “right back atcha!” The two girls are bitter rivals instantly. “Harsh words” abound! Take a look at the video clip.

Now, our family has watched this particular episode a number of times, but this time, I say:

“pause” (don’t you LOVE DVRs?)

“what?”

“Did you see what happened there?”

“what?”

“Did you see how Hannah changed?”

“how?”

“When Mikala was singing, what was Hannah doing? Was she happy for Mikala?”

“yeh.”

“And what did Hannah do after Mikala was finished with her song?”

“hugged her.”

“But then Mikala was really mean to Hannah.”

“yeh”

“So what did Hannah do after Mikala was so mean?”

“she was mean back.”

“What do you think would have happened if Hannah had still been nice to Mikala, even when Mikala was being mean?”

“I dunno.”

“I wonder if maybe Mikala and Hannah would have ended up friends.”

“Mom. It’s just a tv show.”

“Oh no it isn’t babe. Its an OBJECT LESSON.”

(loud groaning in stereo)

FirstHusband and I were talking to FavoriteSon about object lessons later that day and he said, “Mom, it’s just that you do it SO much!”

We cracked up! (It’s working! They’re paying attention! Wooo Hooo!)

I said, “You better get used to it buddy, because you are going to be getting them your entire life. You’re going to be 38 years old and I’m still going to be saying, ‘If you think about it this way . . . ‘ “

FirstHusband said, “No, no, no, no, no. You’re going to be 38, talking to YOUR kid, saying, ‘If you think about it this way'”

Yeah, he rolls his eyes NOW. But he uses object lessons with his 7 year old sister already. He can’t help it. He never stood a chance. heh, heh, heh.

With a new attitude everything can change,
make it how you want it to be.
Stayin’ mad, why do that?
Give yourself a break.

Laugh about it and you’ll see.

Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock!
Life’s what you make it,
so come on come on, everybody now!
Hannah Montana (Life’s What You Make It)

February 11, 2008 Posted by | grace, moms, music | 3 Comments