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

tracking the drift.

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalms 42:4-5

How does it happen? How do I consistently dedicate daily time with God – for months – YEARS – and then just . . . stop?

I don’t understand it.

But I do. The Bible is full of stories about people forgetting God. Elijah experienced discouragement. So did David. Story after story. My faith is no stronger than theirs.

It seems like it was a “single moment” kinda stop. I think. I’m not sure. Maybe it was gradual. I need clues. My prayer journal is my historical record. When did it happen? Working backwards, I see near daily journal entries for April, and for March 31st. The last entry before that? March 23. I didn’t write in my prayer journal for 7 days. That represents a week without dedicated time with God.

The March 31st entry begins with:

“Lord, I miss my time with you. It’s so easy to get distracted and allow my time and thoughts to be pre-occupied by what I believe to be the “demands” of the day.”

Please draw me back to you. Remind me till I see.

Then I read the words that reveal I was smack in the middle of a spiritual desert on March 31st:

“Please bless me with an overwhelming awareness of your presence in my life, not in an abstract, general way, but in an intimate, detailed way. Help me to be aware – to STAY aware of you. Please don’t let me find myself going through the motions, doing what comes “next” without considering whether it should be done at all.

Please reach into my heart, past all the barriers and bring me back into intimate fellowship with you . . . Lord I miss the joy and peace I experience when I’m in close fellowship with you. I miss the recognition of you working in my life . . . Please encourage me today, please jolt me into a place of desperate desire for time with you, for the saturation of your Spirit in my every moment.

The next day, April 1st, I took my first step back. I’m still finding my way, so I’m not ready to explore that part of my journey quite yet. I’m looking for a trigger. Wondering what I need to address before I can get completely clear of this desert. How did I get here?

Realistic or not, I’m also trying to avoid the next desert trip. I’m compelled to try and figure out what to do differently next time. Because I’m not so arrogant as to claim there won’t be a next time. I’ve still got one foot buried in the sand as it is.

What was I praying about in the days before I took a nose dive into a spiritual abyss? Or, as evidenced by the gaps in my prayer journal, what was I NOT praying about?

I have no idea if I’m going to be able to track back to a trigger. I’ve got some journal reading to do. I’m starting with March 23rd and working my way backwards.

Prayer in distress dredges the soul. It is a good thing to keep a note
of the things you prayed about when you were in distress. We remain ignorant
of ourselves because we do not keep a spiritual autobiography.

Oswald Chambers: The Best from All His Books
Oswald Chambers


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

April 13, 2011 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, faith, prayer, spiritual growth | , , , , , , , , | 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: 2nd Corinthians 3:4-5

a Quote:
“God can be our source of confidence because our adequacy is from Him.”
(from Thriving as an Artist in the Church by Rory Noland)

“As I go into the concert I have a pretty good feel for my ability – that is, I know the truth of who I am in the whole scheme of things. I may not be the best musician in the world, but neither am I the worst. What does it matter anyway, since whatever gifts I have were given to me in the first place and are really not mine. So I can’t lose. As I begin to play, my energy is not wasted on thinking of myself. The point of my playing is to present the message of the song, to “wash the feet” of the people or even God by faithfully playing my best with the ability I’ve been given. Now I become the beneficiary of another equation: to forget yourself equals the best possible performance.”
(quote by Michael Card in Roland’s book)

my Prayer:
Lord, as I go into the studio to record tonight, please bless me with your interpretation of Jesus Messiah. Please help me to sing it the way you want to hear it. Please lead me to put harmony where you find it beautiful. Please show me how to make the song pleasing to your ears, not my own.

Please bless my voice and tonight, through your Holy Spirit, please remove the limitations I’m experiencing because I’ve been sick this past week. Please equip me for service because without your help, my voice is even more inadequate than it usually is.

Please bless the studio session and make me aware of any opportunity to be used by you. Please make me sensitive to the individual needs of those who are there. I don’t know them Lord, but you do. I want to be available for your service, no matter that I’m there to get something done – for myself. Please help me to see with your eyes, my vision is weak and self-focused.

the Word:
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
2nd Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

the lyric.
“Because You gladly lean to lead the humble, I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride. Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You. Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You.”
Like Incense (youtube link) by Hillsong Live (amazon link)


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

January 8, 2011 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, prayer, two minutes with God, women | , , , , , , | 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

two minutes with God: Proverbs 25:11

a Quote:
“You are a guardian of the human spirit. You have the power to manipulate and coerce if you want to. You can avoid and ignore if you choose. But can also ennoble and inspire. You can lift up and appeal to all that is good and honorable and holy. You can remind fallible and finite people around you that they hold their lives and calling as a sacred trust, that their best efforts matter, that their worst failures will be one day redeemed.”
Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them
by John Ortberg

my Prayer:
Lord, please allow me to deliver messages of truth from you. Please send me to lift up those who are being discouraged and lied to by the enemy. Please use me right where I am to trample those lies. I pray for discernment so that I will be confident in the prompting of your Holy Spirit. Please equip me for this service and bless my intentions by keeping me out of your way. I pray not only for opportunities to deliver your messages, but I pray that I will get the messages right and not contaminate them by my own finite reasoning and self-focused will.

Lord, please bring faith-filled encouragers into my own life when I falter and get confused, sidetracked or paralyzed for fear of taking steps outside your will.

the Word:
The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl.
Proverbs 25:11 (NCV)

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.”
The Voice of Truth
by Casting Crowns


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

November 10, 2010 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, prayer, professional growth, spiritual growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

one minute with God: James 1:19

a Quote:
“It is ironic that we try to impress people by saying clever or funny things, yet nothing binds one human being to another more than the sense that they have been deeply, carefully listened to. It is no accident that we speak of paying attention to people; attention is the most valuable currency we have.”
Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them
by John Ortberg

my Prayer:
Lord, help me to listen today. Help me to SEE people you want me to listen to today. Please help me to turn off the auto-pilot I so often find myself operating in and really look people in the eyes. Bless me with patience and empathy today, Lord. Allow me to be an instrument of your unconditional love and to share it authentically with someone else through my silence, patience and eye contact. Help me to hear the real messages behind the words instead just the words – appropriate words, carefully formulated as an expected or proper response.

Please keep my pride in check and help me to remember that I don’t need to try and control how other people perceive me. Help me to be authentic, knowing that not everyone will respond positively to me today. Instead of trying to make sure I don’t look like a fool in front of anyone today, please help me to be real with people, giving you a chance to show someone else that they are not the only one who’s got problems.

the Word: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak . . .
James 1:19 (NIV)


This was dual published on my Pragmatic Compendium blog.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, prayer, spiritual growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

one minute with God: Jude 1:20-21

a Quote:
“. . . daily prayer and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”
from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

my Prayer:
Lord, I don’t ever want to drift away from you. I don’t want to ever forget you. And yet, as I pray this so sincerely, I also know, without a shadow of a doubt, that in the not too distant future, I will forget you for an entire day. I will, out of the blue, probably with no definitive cause, go through an entire day without devoting even one moment of thought to you. So I pray that you won’t let me forget for two days in a row. Because it could lead to three. And then I’m the prodigal. Again.

Thank you for your Word. Thank you for my propensity to journal. Thank you for teaching me how to abide. Please help me to stop rambling on and on during my prayer times and abide MORE. Thank you for my love of reading. Thank you for the writers who draw me closer to you through their vulnerability and frankness. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, moving in me to bring me back into fellowship with you when I’ve forgotten you again.

Thank you for your stubborn love.

the Word: But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!
Jude 1:20-21 (The Message)


This was dual published on my main blog: Pragmatic Compendium blog.

August 31, 2010 Posted by | bible, books, christian living, devotions, prayer, spiritual growth, two minutes with God | , , , , , , | Leave a comment