Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

#memoryverse 1 John 4:13 ~ “abiding” in Christ. part 1 of…howevermany.

1 John 4 13 little girl and dove pinterest#memoryverse

“By this we know that we abide in him
and he in us,
because he has given us of his Spirit.”

1 John 4:13 (ESV)

I used to think the word “abide” referred to that part of prayer where I was supposed to shut up and listen. Like God and I were taking turns doing the talking.

Prayer: My turn to talk, God’s turn to listen.
Abide: God’s turn to talk, my turn to listen.

Over the last 7 years, I’ve come to realize that abiding is so much more than me shutting up and listening during “prayer time.”

I think I first began to realize that my definition of abiding was much too narrow when I began to understand that my definition of prayer was much too narrow.

I used to think of prayer as dedicated time talking to God. These days, I call that type of prayer “event” prayer because it takes place like an event – it has a beginning and an end. Often, it’s prayer that opens with a salutation, like “Dear Lord” or “Heavenly Father” and always concludes with the word “Amen.”

And then it’s over until next time.

By the grace of God, I’ve come to understand that while “event” prayer is good and necessary, it is only one kind of prayer.

Now, the most common type of prayer I engage in is practicing the presence of God. It’s an ongoing, no holds barred conversation with God. What used to be that constant inner conversation with myself all day long has shifted and now it’s [almost always] directed to God. The shift in direction has transformed self-directed self-talk into intimate prayer with the Holy Spirit who dwells within me through my faith in Christ.

When prayer began to saturate my moments and my days in this way, abiding began to take on new meaning. When I talk to the Holy Spirit about everything, all day, it’s because Christ is answering my prayer with a big “YES!” when I ask Him to bless me with an awareness that “the Lord my God is is with me everywhere I go.” (Joshua 1:9)

When I’m aware of God’s presence in my moments and my days in this way, I’m abiding in Christ.

Regardless of whether I’m talking or shutting up.

January 27, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Jeremiah 32:17 ~ NOTHING is too hard for God.

Jeremiah 32 17 red sunset background#memoryverse

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,
you have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power and outstretched arm.
Nothing is too hard for you.”

Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, please remind me again and again, that nothing is too hard for You.

Please use anything and everything I see and experience to remind me of Your power and providence, from a sunrise to a sunset and everything in between.

Please bless me with peace in the middle of the unknown – peace that is grounded in stalwart confidence that You are all-powerful and sovereign.

Please bless me with patience when I think You are taking to long and with humble obedience when I slip into my inner two year old and start thinking “it’s not fair!” or “you’re doing it wrong!”

Please help me to remember that You never make mistakes and that You are working all things together for good.

Please help me remember that You can redeem ANY situation, You can soften a heart and open a mind. You alone can draw people to Yourself and show them Your perspective.

Please help me to remember Lord, NOTHING is too hard for You.

January 20, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Jeremiah 32:17 ~ nothing (nobody) is too hard (headed) for God.

Jeremiah 32 17 waterfall background#memoryverse

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,
you have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power and outstretched arm.
Nothing is too hard for you.”

Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV)

I’m a fixer.

When I see something that needs fixed I want to fix it, whether it be a crooked picture on the wall or a broken relationship. But some things are beyond my capabilities, especially if the thing that’s broken isn’t seen as broken by people “in charge” of it.

In many cases, the first thing that needs to be changed is a mindset.

That’s a whole lotta vague, isn’t it? As I read back over it, I see application in multiple situations. In each of those situations, someone either doesn’t see or refuses to see that there’s a problem in the first place.

And before anyone even goes there, I know I’m one of those people, so as you read, know that I’m including my own oblivion and denial and not just pointing at someone else’s. I need to consistently ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me problems I don’t see.

And in those situations where I want to help but the people I want to help don’t think they need any help, I need to pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to them the problems THEY don’t see. If someone has blocked out all possibility for constructive criticism and/or surrounded themselves with “yes men” and rainbow blowing yea-sayers, there’s no avenue for me to help because there’s no perceived need or even an openness for possible improvement. In those situations, there’s absolutely nothing I can say or do to make someone aware of a problem, much less motivate them to explore and implement change.

And again, I’m including my own oblivion and denial when I say that.

That’s when I need to rely on God. God can do ANYthing, even open a closed mind, dedicated to the self-preservation of being “right.” For a while now, I’ve been asking the sovereign and almighty God who made the heavens and the earth to do some things I know can’t do on my own:
(1) reveal to me that my perception of some problems is incorrect,
(2) bless me with a peace about doing nothing to intercede,
(3) and/or reveal to someone that there are problems and provide me an opportunity to help.

Because standing by and watching is beyond frustrating.

January 19, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Psalms 121:2 ~ decisions and steps.

Beth Moore quote Where God can go with a scared ill equipped vessel#memoryverse

“My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2 (NIV)

Are you at the door to an opportunity but haven’t taken the step through because you don’t have confidence in your ability to succeed?

Pray.

Make sure the opportunity is within the moral will of God as revealed to us in scripture.

Pray.

Seek counsel with wise and objective brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t have anything to lose or gain from your decision.

Pray.

Genuinely ask the Lord to exponentially increase your desire to move forward if the path IS within His will for you.
Ask Him to pursue you relentlessly if it IS His will for you.

Genuinely ask Him to lessen and remove your conscious thoughts of this possible path if it ISN’T His will for you.
Ask him to re-direct your thoughts to a different course of action if this one ISN’T His will for you.

Pray.

And then take action.

Don’t wait for Him to say “GO,” take one step after another while diligently and prayerfully watching for Him to say “NO.”

Remember, if you could do it alone, you wouldn’t need His help. Remember where your help comes from.

January 17, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

#memoryverse Psalms 121:2 ~ muse. shmoose. I need the Holy Spirit.

God has not calle me to be successful but faithful Mother Teresa#memoryverse

“My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2 (NIV)

In the fall of last year, I began leading two Bible/Discipleship studies and after taking a break over the holidays, I’m seeing more people sign up to join us as we start back next week. My first thought was “EXCELLENT!”

Followed immediately by a humbling shot of “uh oh. WHAT am I going to say for 17 weeks? What if I run out of “stuff” to teach?”

And then the Holy Spirit nudged me: “Yeah, you’ll run out of ‘stuff.’ If you teach all by yourself. You need to depend on ME.

I know from experience that if I stay grounded in close fellowship with God and continuously offer my preparation as a living sacrifice, He will give me HIS message every week, from the timeless truth of scripture to the practical application of it in our lives today. From the supporting stories to suggestions for personal challenges.

I know that if I continuously pray for the people participating in the study, HE will incline their hearts and minds to HIS message and He will draw each one closer to Himself in a way that is unique and needed for each and every one of them.

Time and time again – when I’ve depended on HIM as my source and my guide – He has led me to share something very specific to meet someone right where they are that day, that moment.

I know that if I’m obedient in planting and sowing the seed where and how he leads me, He will send the rain and the sunshine and harvest in His own perfect timing.

I’ll need the Holy Spirit to remind me of that last part again and again because I know my natural tenancy is equate responses from people as affirmation that the messages I relay are “effective.” In reality, I’m confident He’s reached people who have never given me even one ioda of feedback that something I’ve shared has spoken to them or impacted their choices.

I need to remember – persistently – that HE is the source of all I ever teach, or speak or write. Without Him, my voice is a “clanging cymbal.”

January 16, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Psalms 121:2 ~ knowledge and wisdom.

Psalm 121 2 My help comes from the Lord pastel bkg#memoryverse

“My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2 (NIV)

For as long as I remember, I’ve believed that knowledge can help me solve problems and overcome obstacles. It’s one of the reasons I read so much non-fiction.

Authors are teachers.

Witnesses.

Mentors.

You may have heard me say this before, but I don’t believe I’m all that special. I believe that any problem I face has been faced by someone else before and most of the time, I’ve found that at least one of those people has written about it.

So when I find myself face to face with a problem, I research. I learn.

But I’ve found that knowledge isn’t enough. I need wisdom.

Two very different things.

Some have said “knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.” There’s a whole lotta truth in that. But in my experience, wisdom is the effective application of knowledge. Some say that wisdom is derived from experience and intuition. That’s giving me WAAAAY too much credit. I can take the credit, don’t get me wrong.

But I know better. I know where my help comes from.

Every time I find an answer, I know the Holy Spirit led me to it. I can take the credit for finding it all on my own, but I know better. I know where my help comes from, regardless of whether it’s the discovery of information or my ability to apply that information effectively in a given situation.

One of the most common reminders of God’s leading in my life is when I can freakishly recall something from my distance past that will help me in my current situation, whether it’s something I read or saw, something I experienced or a conversation I had with someone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been completely stumped about what to do or say and after silently praying, right in the middle of an active conversation or challenge, God has revealed an answer, a word, a thought.

If not for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I wouldn’t remember half of what I learn and I wouldn’t be able to apply diddly or squat of it in the conversations and interactions of my daily life.

I know where my help comes from.

January 14, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Psalms 121:2 ~ providence, provision & protection

Psalm 121 2 My help comes from the Lord chalk#memoryverse

“My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2 (NIV)

My husband and I can work as hard as we can to make a life and a home for our family, but in the end, we know that GOD is our provider.

Every time my husband arrives home from a business trip, it is because God kept him safe and returned him to us.

Every time we leave the house, it is by God’s grace that we aren’t involved in the accidents we see as we rush from one place to another.

Every time my son stepped out onto the football field or the basketball court or the track, he walked away uninjured because of God’s mercy and protection.

Every time my daughter sings I hear God’s gift to her.

Every time I arm our alarm and our family curls up in our beds in the air conditioned house that God has provided for us, I trust Him for another night of safety and rest.

I know how fast a home can be lost, a person can be taken and safety can disappear. It is by God’s grace that we experience undeserved provision and unconditional love.

To claim those things as a result of our own efforts is an expression of ingratitude.

January 12, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Proverbs 16:9 ~ when things go “wrong.”

John Piper quote God is doing 10000 things#memoryverse

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

One of the most difficult things I’ve experienced in my striving to follow God’s guidance in my life is when

I pray, persistently,
I seek wisdom from His word and from faith-filled brothers and sisters in Christ,
I “count the cost” and
I make a decision that I’m am confident is one that follows the leading of the Holy Spirit, a decision that – through all the dependent tasks and decisions leading up to it – is covered in God’s fingerprints.

And then the outcome is ab.so.flippin.lutely. HORRIBLE.

How does this happen?

WHY does this happen?

Because the outcome is only horrible from my point of view.

Sometimes, after making plans and following through, circumstances go as expected and everything makes sense.

Sometimes, after making plans and following through, circumstances exceed my hopes and expectations and even my imagination and I’m left in awe of what God can do when I have the courage and motivation to be obedient and if I don’t fight back or dig my heels in while I stand in His way.

Sometimes, after making plans and following through, circumstances tank.
Things go horribly wrong and I doubt my understanding of every single answer to prayer I received leading up to that moment. I doubt my ability to interpret what scripture taught me about my decision. I doubt the wise words from brothers and sisters in Christ.

I don’t doubt God. I’m confident HE got it right. I doubt myself. MY ability to get it right.

Sometimes, after circumstances tank,

(1) I immediately get to see how God redeems the situation, often through the unexpected benefit of someone else or someone being drawn closer to and more dependent on Christ.

Sometimes, after circumstances tank,

(2) I find out months or years later how God redeemed my “failure.”

Sometimes, after circumstances tank,

(3) God never shows me or tells me why.

I hate door number 3 the most.

I’ll admit, there have been seasons of my life where a “failure” has resulted in paralyzation. I’ve spent months bogged down in fear of making another “mistake.”

prayer can never be in excess SpurgeonPrayer has been the antidote every time. Prayer leading to dependence on Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Will I make another “mistake?”

Count on it.

I may lie low for a while and regroup, but when I persist in prayer – not necessarily prayer for a “do-over” or for God to “fix” something – but prayer for God to draw me closer to Him, for Him to bless me with the ability to see people and the world through HIS greater perspective instead of from through my own limited limited and skewed vantage point, my courage is restored.

My confidence in Him overshadows my lack of confidence in myself.

The next decision presents itself and I face it with Him. I make plans, giving Him veto power. I make plans knowing the outcome isn’t up to me.

I’ll be honest. I don’t always like the outcome. But I make plans in faith, knowing His ways are higher than my ways.

January 10, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Proverbs 16:9 ~ give people permission to tell you the truth.

Courage Dear Heart C S Lewis#memoryverse

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

It’s January, time for new year’s resolutions and fresh starts. New goals. New plans.

I feel a metaphor coming on.

When I use my GPS to help me get somewhere, I not only have to set a destination, but I have to set my current location.

I don’t know about you, but in life, when I set a goal, I don’t intuitively take an honest, objective look at my current situation. Intellectually, I know that when I want to “go somewhere,” I need to have a clear and realistic understanding of where I am now, before I start trying to figure out how I’m going to get where I’m going. I wish I could say I always take stock of my current situation before I start.

But.

When I STOP and pray about a goal,
when I ask God to show me if the goal is in line with His Word and if it’s a goal He even wants me to pursue,
when I ask for His guidance on how to achieve it,
when I ask Him to show me who and what I need to help me,
I see things much more clearly.

When I genuinely pray for Him to help me figure all that out, the Holy Spirit leads me to reflect, not just on my desires and plans, but also on where I am right now.

rose colored glassesSometimes, that means taking a long hard look in the mirror. An HONEST look. I don’t like seeing my weaknesses. They ain’t pretty. But I need to know the truth.

Sometimes God reveals it to me.
Sometimes God uses people to reveal it to me.
Sometimes the truth comes unsolicited and wrapped in emotionally charged language. I can dismiss the words because they were spoken in anger instead of “in love” but when I’m smart (and brave), I strip away the emotion and search the content for nuggets of truth.

Just because feedback is mean, doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth in it.

Sometimes, I need to give people permission to tell me the truth. Friends, acquaintances, experts, strangers…

When the only feedback someone ever gives me is positive, I usually say that person “blow rainbows.” Their feedback loses credibility with me. It’s statistically improbable that I’m great at everything I do.

Sometimes a friend who loves me will take me aside and tell me a hard truth.
Sometimes I need to ask a friend what they think and give them permission – encourage them – to tell me the truth.
Sometimes, I need to pay people. In my life, I’ve paid therapists and voice teachers to tell me the truth.

And then I need to be quiet and listen. Because my knee-jerk reaction is to explain how they are wrong. How they don’t understand. To try and get them to see things from MY point of view – the point of view I had before I asked for the feedback.

Then, I need to process what I hear. Investigate. Search my heart and the circumstances to determine if there’s truth in the feedback. I’m not the most objective person when it comes to evaluating my “current location.”

Are you making new goals? Pray and ask the Lord to show you your current location.

and “Courage, dear heart.”

January 9, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse Proverbs 16:9 ~ Plan B

Plan B#memoryverse

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

I had such a great plan. I had prayed and I thought God had answered with a big ol’ “YES!”

and then things started to fall apart.

What do you do when a plan begins to fall apart? I’ve tried to force circumstances before. To create situations and opportunities. To manipulate them. To push them.

It’s taken me decades, but I’ve learned that my efforts are only effective when God intervenes. Especially when a plan requires more than one person to accomplish it.

I find myself thinking of Nehemiah. He didn’t rebuild the wall all by himself. And he wasn’t the one who convinced the king to allow him – to actually help him – rebuild the wall. After finding out the wall had been torn down, the first thing Nehemiah did was pray:

“O Lord, please hear my prayer!…Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

After praying, Nehemiah didn’t say anything to the king at all. He had prayed and he trusted God to answer. He waited. He continued doing the work he was supposed to do.

The king noticed there was something wrong. Was he just a perceptive man? Or did God make him aware there was a problem?

The king asked Nehemiah what was wrong. He made a few guesses, but not assumptions. He didn’t presume to know. He asked. Was he just a curious man? Or did God prompt him to ask?

Nehemiah told him what was troubling him, but didn’t ask the king to do anything for him. Why not? He could have just asked the king for what he wanted right then. But he didn’t. He waited on the Lord. He had prayed and he trusted God to answer.

And the king said, “How can I help you?” Was he just a kind and compassionate man? Or did the Lord “put it into his heart” to help Nehemiah?

Back to Nehemiah. A powerful king just asked him “How can I help you?” Did Nehemiah blurt out his request? It’s interesting to me that the question and Nehemiah’s first response are both contained in one verse. The actual request follows in the next verse:

4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven,
5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”

Nehemiah didn’t say a word without God. He knew that the king would only say yes if God willed it.

That story has changed the way I approach problems and decisions. If a plan requires other people to accomplish it and God wants the plan accomplished, God will “put it into their heart.” When he doesn’t do that, I have a choice. Do I push through anyway?

or do I start praying about Plan B?

January 8, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 328 other followers