Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

#memoryverse John 15:5 ~ WithOUT God. “nothing” is possible.

Matthew 19 26 With God all things are possible#memoryverse

“I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me
and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5 (ESV)

“With God, all things are possible.”

When I read, hear or say this, I usually emphasize the “all things are possible” part.

Today, I can’t get past the “WITH GOD” part.

The hard truth – one that I don’t like to admit – is that I have a tendency to be more self-centered than Veruca Salt. The hard truth is that I want what I want when I want it. and often, “I WANT IT NOW!”

But…
If God isn’t in it.
If God doesn’t want it.
If God doesn’t want it for me.
If God knows that it will lead me away from Him.
If God knows that my current desire ALREADY pulls me away from him.
If God knows that my current desire might be counter to His plan to draw people to a saving knowledge of Him and to accept His gift of grace.
If God knows that my current desire might be counter to His desire for a living, intimate, dependent relationship with me and/or someone else…

then, God’s not in it.

Even if “it” is possible and I go after it on my own – withOUT God, I will fail. Maybe not fail in the eyes of the world, under the world’s definition of success, but I will fail.

Because all my dreams and goals, if pursued withOUT God, lead me away from Him. And when I fill my life with things that exclude Christ, those things amount to a
big.
pile.
of nothing.

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

#memoryverse John 15:5 ~ I say “nothing” without you.

John 15 5 apart from him you can do nothing tall#memoryverse

“I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me
and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5 (ESV)

“When a worship leader reads the Bible you can tell.”

Carlos Whittaker is a worship leader, author and speaker. So I’m betting he knows that his statement extends from “worship leader” to “writer” to “speaker” to “someone.”

Personally, I can spot “trite” messages in a New York minute. I’m betting I’m not the only one.

Worship leaders who speak in the vagueness of song lyric poetry and speakers who spend extended time telling stories and weaving metaphors without connecting them to truth in scripture. Words dripping in entertainment, feel good inspiration or contrived attempts to stir emotion. Words that don’t lead to deeper understanding or dredge up self-examination. Fluffy words that don’t scrape the bottom to dredge up conviction or reveal underlying pride or fear.

Carlos Whittaker is right. When someone reads the Bible, you can tell.

For me, the opposite is true as well. When I’m NOT spending time in the Word, you can tell. My words turn thin, losing both depth and meaning. And if you know me, you know I love me some depth and meaning. When I’m not spending time in the Word – and in prayer – my perspective shifts to my own little corner (yes, that is a R&H Cinderella reference).

But when I let go of the grip I have on “my” day and ask God to bless me with a desire for Him, I find myself drawn to Him. I actually WANT to read the Word and spend time with Him.

Notice I didn’t start with “If I just read the Bible.” I started with prayer asking God to bless me with a desire to read the Bible. Because, I know me. On my own, my tendency would be to curl up with a cuppa joe and a good book ABOUT the Bible.

Some days, my tendency is to curl up with a cuppa joe and my laptop and allow the internet to suck the time out of my day.

But when I spend time in God’s living Word, it lives in me and there’s no keeping it in check. My perspective shifts from my own limited and skewed point of view to consider people and relationships and circumstances from God’s greater vantage point.

I ABIDE in Him.

So I pray for a desire for the Word.
And I pray for the motivation to actually READ it.
And I pray for the Holy Spirit to open the scriptures to me and help me to understand and apply its timeless truths to my life TODAY.

And I pray for the Holy Spirit to equip me – and put words in my mouth when I speak so that the word “trite” is never an adjective anyone could or would ever use to describe the words that come out of my mouth.

February 24, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#memoryverse John 15:5 ~ Lord, please remind me to remember.

John 15 5 I am the vine with grape background#memoryverse

“I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me
and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me
you can do nothing.”

John 15:5 (ESV)

Heavenly Father,
please remind me to remember you,
over and over and over again,
because I forget You,
over and over and over again.
Please remind me to remember that
YOU are my source in everything I say and do.
Please remind me that my fear
often stems from my tendency
to look to my own abilities and strength

instead of relying on YOU to equip me and renew my strength.
Please relentlessly remind me to remember that
You are sovereign.
AMEN.

February 23, 2015 Posted by | #memoryverse | , , , , , | Leave a comment

my life verse?

Acts_26_24_Your_great_learning_is_driving_you_insane[1]I literally laughed out loud when I read this.
How have I never seen it before?

24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

of course, the pragmatic in me compels me to follow up with the next verse…

25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.

and I know somebody out there is saying, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

February 13, 2015 Posted by | Bible, Christian, laugh!, pragmatic communion, scripture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

#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 | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

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