Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

toxic concoction.

Doubt and Faith Toxic Concoction Mark Buchanan Your God is Too SafeI got cocky.

I thought I could logically justify my faith in God.

You’ll find some Christians who’ll tell you they can do it.

not me.

not anymore.

When someone told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable, I bristled. Or should I say, my ego bristled? I challenged them to prove it.

They couldn’t. (Their emotionally charged reasoning was circular and redundant and they completely ignored me when I poked questions into the holes in their arguments.)

But in the aftermath of those discussions, I discovered I couldn’t disprove it either.

Science and logic have limits. There are some things that can’t be understood or explained (and a definition isn’t an explanation).

Like what causes gravity.
Like human consciousness.
Like quantum entanglement (what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”).

Like God.

Doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just means we don’t understand why. Or how.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that God cannot be completely understood. I forgot that a God I can understand is a God I create. Confine. Any God I can completely understand is limited by time and space and the extent to which I can understand.

Any God who is limited by my understanding is not transcendent.

I was reminded – the hard way – that I don’t want a God I can understand.

It was a season of extreme paradox in my life.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more aware of my weakness apart from Christ.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more intimately and desperately dependent on the Holy Spirit.

I prayed daily for wisdom and discernment and empathy and compassion. I prayed daily for Him to continuously make me aware of opportunities to be the hands and feet and voice and ears of Christ. Watching and listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit had never been more in the forefront of my awareness. I prayed not only for the Holy Spirit to prompt me when to speak and act, but when to be silent and still.

I prayed for Him to equip me in what I honestly knew to be beyond my capabilities.

and then.

The person who told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable asked me a simple question:

If God is sovereign, why pray?

You’d think I would have considered that question before, me being all spiritually “mature” and everything.

Turns out, I had never really thunk it through. I had dismissed it, thoughtlessly citing Biblical platitudes like “I pray because Jesus prayed.” and “I pray because the Bible tells us to pray.”

When I finally looked at the question straight on, my entire relationship with God came to a screeching halt.

I couldn’t pray.

I wanted to turn back the clock. To unthink what I was thinking. I wanted the faith of a child.

I wanted stronger faith.

Suddenly and overwhelmingly, I identified with Philip Yancey when he wrote:

“I envy, truly I envy, those people who pray in simple faith without fretting about how prayer works and how God governs this planet. For some reason I cannot avoid pondering these imponderables.”

What was so different about this question this time? It came at a critical juncture in my life. After arguing with God for months, I had finally taken the terrifying step of obedience by sharing something I believe God was revealing to me. Something I tried to ignore. Something I didn’t want to see: That I was part of a church which marginalized grace, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, prayer and relationship with Christ. That we forgot 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 and were ignoring Matthew 28:19.

I was genuinely repentant and prayed desperately for God to bring revival. Heartbroken, I asked for people to pray with me. I was blindsided by how angry people were, how fast and how much they misunderstood what I said and how vehemently they rejected not only what I was saying, but me.

I had argued with God, finally doing what I believed He was prompting me to do and I was faced with closed hearts, closed minds and slammed doors.

So I did what anyone “mature” in their faith would do. I ran into a cave and hid.

A dark cave.

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:4-9

Go ahead, sing-song it with me.

“Julie and Elijah, sitting under a tree, w. h. i. n. ing.”

I prayed.

and then I couldn’t.

Because God is sovereign and God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do.

And then I prayed because I couldn’t help it.

Because a life void of intimacy with Christ and utter dependance on the Holy Spirit was vastly empty. and hopelessly dark.

Desolate.

I prayed because I couldn’t help it while at the same time believing that praying to a sovereign God who’s working a plan and doesn’t need my help was…pointless.

Not logical. Not pragmatic.

And that’s where faith is required.

And where doubt came in.

I never doubted the existence of God. I never doubted Christ or the Cross or the redeeming power of His blood. I never doubted my salvation.

I doubted the point of me.

If God is sovereign, why pray?

If God doesn’t need me, why would He even bother with me? Why did He even bother with me?

And that’s why I say I can’t logically justify my faith.

In my darkest night, when God was completely silent, when the logical, rational and reasonable foundation for my faith was beyond my sight,

I still had faith.

I still have faith.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | apologetics, books, Christ-Centered Church, christian living, pinterest, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

four minutes with God: break my heart for what breaks Yours.

a Quote:

(Ellen and Genie were best friends when they were kids, but grew apart over the years. Until this reconnection in their early twenties, as written by Genie.)

“For the next hour I stormed the conversation with highly exaggerated accounts of my great successes…

She [Ellen] listened quietly and at one point when my voice was way up and bragging she broke in: “That’s all very interesting. I know you’ve done some fine work, but you’re probably the unhappiest looking person I’ve ever seen, Genie. What’s really the matter?

walking wounded compassionIf you have ever heard your own defense shatter, remember that sickening silence that follows the crash right now and share it with me as I sat there with an unlighted cigarette in my hand afraid to look down at the wreckage around my feet.

She was not unkind.
In fact, her expression and her voice were so kind I quickly lighted the cigarette and faked a cough while I batted away the tears that were there brimming.

After that I told her things which I had not dared admit to myself. We were very close and yet we were shouting at each other from the opposite shores of the universe…

Ellen talked about what was at the center of her life…

“All right, what is at the center of your life?”

She said, “It isn’t a ‘what.’ There’s a Person there.

“A person?”

“Jesus Christ.”

What did I reply?

“Please!”

That’s what I said and laughed but I didn’t feel at all like laughing. I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do and certainly I didn’t know what else to say.”

from The Burden Is Light by Eugenia Price

my Prayer:
Jesus, ever since I asked You to break my heart for what breaks Yours, I haven’t been the same. This lesson of compassion is not what I expected. I don’t know what I expected. Heartbreak hurts. And so does the knowledge that so many people vehemently hate or casually dismiss the Healer because of all the religious baggage that’s been heaped on top of You.

Lord, despite the heartbreak, please don’t ever let me become desensitized.

Please continue to bless me with this broken heart. Thank you for teaching me, even if empathy wasn’t the learning curve I wanted. Please continue to help me see people and to minister to them. Please help me to recognize the people who are seeking You and please equip me to extend that ministry beyond their temporal needs. Please bless me with the courage to ask the hard, uncomfortable, heartbreaking questions. Please, please tell me when to speak and what to say, when to be silent and what to pray.

the Word:
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV)

the lyric.
“Heal my heart and make it clean. Open up my eyes to the things unseen.
Show me how to love like You have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause, as I walk from earth into eternity.”

March 18, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, pragmatic communion, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

facebook fragments: 01/18/14 – 01/24/14

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I have a harmony stuck in my head.

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PinkGirl. Please STOP doing the Chocolate Dance and get ready for bed.
#ilovemydaughter

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
PinkGirl. Please STOP doing the Chocolate Dance and get ready for school.
#ilovemydaughter

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A huge THANK YOU to Kristen from BodyInUnity Inc.! After more than 6 months off, I went to my 3rd Christian yoga class yesterday at a new location for me – Willow Creek PCA in Winter Springs (FL). Locals, if you’re looking for a Christian yoga class, I can personally recommend Kristen! Check out her class locations and times through the Body In Unity website, HERE. (scroll down to see the schedule) NO FEES! Donations only!

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It would appear that Bob the Cat and I are playing the “Cat Wants In-Cat Wants Out” game today.
I’m reminded of the Sad Cat Diary:
“I put in a simple request regarding the door to the garden. But seemingly out of sheer spite, the authorities refuse to hold the door open long enough for me to decide whether to go outside. or inside. or outside. or inside.”

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Logged into my bank yesterday. My credit card had a zero balance. And I had a brand new credit card. with a brand new number. A card we didn’t apply for. showing that missing balance.
Thank you Target.
and NO thank you. I do NOT want a Red Card.
I don’t need a new bank account number too.

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The 2014 Living Room Makeover is stalled. Technically it’s because I haven’t ordered the rest of the flooring yet. Or painted the room. Or picked a paint color. Until today. Paralyzed by tones of wheat, I finally settled on one. Not because I loved the color, but because the name of it is “Pecan Sandie.”

Yes. My decorating choices are guided by cookies. That being said, when asked about the decorating delay, I shall steadfastly deny procrastination, indecision and cookies and blame it all on the busyness surrounding the production of PinkGirl’s latest play. She’s Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Last weekend and this weekend.
Do they make a paint additive that smells like cookies?
(click below to see the before photos and the progress so far)

new flooring sample

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Thursday, January 23, 2014
The garbage cans I ordered came yesterday. Opened the 1st box, not the 2nd.
PinkGirl: “Mom, what was that crashing noise this morning, right before Bob started crying?”
It really does look like the top of the 1st box could support the weight of a cat, doesn’t it?

boo and bob on cardboard boxes

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My dentist is going to tell me I need a crown for a cracked tooth.
She’s also going to tell me I need a night guard because I clench my teeth while sleeping, which resulted in a cracked tooth.
Which has been cracked for years.
Which is why I’ve said no to the crown for years.
Today I find out if the crack has grown. I really do NOT want a crown. I already have one and it was a significantly less than optimal experience. (By the time I needed my next cleaning, I had a new dentist.)
I’d rather paint the living room than go to the dentist.
okay. I’m done whining.
for a while.

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If I actually intended to use this flap on our new garbage can, this crooked sticker with bubbles in it would make me grumble every time I threw something away.
#ocd

crooked recycle sticker

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“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

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Friday, January 24, 2014
Spent a couple of hours at BrightLight Books yesterday.
And a couple of hours reading.
#incurablebibliophile

book binge

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Need. Bookcases.
#incurablebibliophile

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The clothing and makeup is dated, but the message is timeless.
Jump to the 16 minute mark to get to the guts of this:
(or check out the book version “Dinner with a Perfect Stranger” It’s short. 178 pages.)

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That yoga class I took last night?
Feeling it right now. I am seriously out of shape.
Even the bottom of my feet hurt.

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Little known facts about 19th-century protestant non-state missionaries: “Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.” Read the full article HERE.

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, exercise, family, fight the frump, fragments, freakishly organized, goodsteward/body, health, home sweet home, intentional living, laugh!, microactions, motivation, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic commotion, pragmatic parenting, praise team music, status updates, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

facebook fragments: 01/10/14 – 01/17/14 (listened to a lot of music this week)

For those of you who don’t follow me on facebook…

Friday, 01/10/14
“that’s precious.” #stuffIdontsay

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Sunday, 01/12/14
My son just used the word “solace” in everyday conversation.
And he didn’t remember using it when I asked if I could post this.
I’m so proud.

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The 2014 Living Room makeover: before and during
(click to photo below to see all the “before” shots)

new flooring sample
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Monday, 01/13/14
Parking FavoriteSon’s new car second in the driveway without overlaping the sidewalk.
I’m getting good at this.

driveway parking

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Tuesday, 01/14/14

God Catchers When you are hungry for Him God doesnt say calm down

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This song was posted by a family who just lost their 3 month old son.
A testimony of faith in devastating heartbreak.

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PinkGirl is FREAKING out over this. We have tix to see – and MEET – them in March. #ilovemydaughter

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Wednesday, 01/15/14
Louder.

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Book Sniffing. How Nerds Get High. #bibliophile

book sniffing

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Thursday, 01/16/14
that time when you see someone do something nice to help someone else. after making it very clear just how put out they are in the doing of it. #itaintgracewhenyougiveitthatway

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“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.”

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Praying for saturating comfort and intense peace for some friends who are hurting today.
(click the photo to view the source post)

http://pragmaticcompendium.com/?s=princess+tapestry

disney princess tapestry back

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These photos are another reminder for me. Sometimes you can’t see someone’s pain. Doesn’t mean it’s not there. #reachout #seepeople (click the photo below to see the rest of the photos and the story behind the last one)

JohnSchneider

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A huge THANK YOU to Kristen with BodyInUnity Inc.! Tonight was my 2nd yoga class after more than 6 months away. And THANK YOU to OASIS Spa & Wellness for hosting the Thursday 6pm session! Such a peaceful and edifying environment! If you’re local and interested in Christian yoga classes, check out the Body in Unity facebook page for more info. And be sure to check out the services at Oasis! Beautiful, professional, peaceful and a great value! #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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Friday, January 17, 2014
Putting a credit card to good use on a Florida winter morning.

frost on the windshield

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Thinking about songs that have been challenging for me to learn. If we only sang “singable” songs during worship, I never would have gotten to lead this one.

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mmmm, drums for the King. “We lift our banner high, we lift the name of Jesus” New Elevation Worship song.

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If you see me singing in my van over the next few days, this is what I’m listening to:

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FavoritetHusband put up 5 birdhouses on Sunday. Took these two 5 days to find theirs.

birdhouses

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Finally found FavoiteSon a PS4 (delayed Xmas present) but had to buy it in a bundle. Listed the headset & 1 of the unwanted games on Ebay last night. One sold before I went to bed, the other before I woke up. LOVE it when my auctions turn over like that!

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Anyone want to weigh in on the current inhouse mother/daughter disagreement?
peanut butter. creamy or crunchy?

crunch or creamy peanut butter

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I’ve let Bob the cat in. and out. and in. and out. no less than 10 times so far today.
His sister, Boo? zero. The girl knows how to make a decision.

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2nd yoga class last night after more than 6 months off. I think I feel every. single. muscle. in my body right now. #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE

January 28, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, clean house, crazymakers, exercise, fight the frump, fragments, goodsteward/body, home sweet home, laugh!, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, praise team music, status updates, suffering, vehicles, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

four minutes with God: in the dark, surrounded by trees.

peace is not the absence of darknessa Quote:
“A friend of mine is a singer. From time to time she goes to record vocal tracks at a studio here in town. One evening she went and she was in a different room than she had ever been in before. In a studio, there is always some form of sound absorbing material, so that the recording is clean and clear, but in this case the sound materials were unique. The guys in the studio called them “trees” because instead of being attached to the walls, the whole room was full of these sound absorbing columns. My friend would stand on her mark, and they would move the columns around her, surrounding her with the trees. Well at one point, the lights went out and if she hadn’t already been on her mark, she would not have known where she was, and would have been bumping into the “trees,” and unable to find her mark. Because her feet were planted before it got dark, she felt secure and confident, she just had to wait until the lights came back on. Do you see where I’m going with this? There will be struggles in this life. You will have suffering, and loss, and confusion. But the question is not “where are the trees,” but “where are your feet?” If you understand that Christ has made a way for you to be in the presence of God both now (through the Holy Spirit), and in the end (in the New Heavens and New Earth); if you cultivate a relationship with his Holy Spirit–becoming ever-more aware of his daily, constant presence with you; if you worship in light of these truths–knowing that God is here in Christ’s name, and if all of this seeps down into your heart, then when the lights go out you’ll be on your mark, you’ll be secure and confident, and you just have to wait until the lights come back on–in this life, or in glory.”
by Curtis Froisland
[to read my version of this story, CLICK HERE]

the Word:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

my Prayer:
Father, thank you for turning the lights out. again. Thank you for stripping away all the tangible, visible things that had become a stumbling block in my pursuit of an intimate relationship with You. Only You know the extent to which the extraction of those things rocked my faith and shattered my confidence. Even though these last 5 months have been the darkest of my life and I may never fully understand them, I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned. Thank you for striking me full in the face with the reminder that if I sincerely want the intimacy with You that I say I do, I have to be willing to be vulnerable. Transparent. I need to wholly surrender to Your sovereign plan. Thank you for helping me to find peace in the process and result of letting go of my own dreams and plans. Please help me find sustaining and true joy in trusting You and following You NO MATTER WHAT. Please, please help me find that fine line between dying to self and being a good steward of the gifts You bless me with. Please help me to relentlessly pursue my passions without allowing them to become idols. Please help me to overcome my fear and determination to NEVER put my love for them above my love for You ever again and to boldly “go and make disciples” in every single area of my life. Help me to step forward even though I know one of those steps could result in disobedience and discipline. again. Please help me to remember that pruning is necessary in order that I “bear much fruit. Thank you for helping me to understand Your silence doesn’t mean You’ve left me alone in in the dark.”

the lyric.
“You move in the unseen. You set the captives free. As I stand and sing, you’re breaking the chains off me. Breathe in me Your life, I can feel You are close now. I can never hide You are here and You know me. All I need is You
And I love You…Breathe in me Your life ’til Your love overtakes me. Open up my eyes, let me see You more clearly.”
by Bones (Live) by Hillsong

October 24, 2013 Posted by | christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, music, pragmatic communion, prayer, suffering, thankfulness, the search for Joy, what I've learned, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

idences.

specifically, providence and coincidence.

Tozer quote you can see God from anywhereprovidence: capitalized : God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny

coincidence: the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection

I can’t ever remember believing in coincidences. My husband on the other hand, is a big believer in them. He believes some things – LOTS of things – just…happen. I believe some things happen randomly too. But I also believe that God takes each and every one of those random events and circumstances and, in His sovereign will, wrapped in undeserved and unearned grace and mercy, purposefully works them for His good.

Every. single. one of them. Because He is that good. He’s all powerful, all knowing and ever present.

When we find ourselves smack in the middle a seemingly random happening, both my husband and I agree that God has given us the freedom to choose. We are to be guided by wisdom (Bible, learned knowledge, prayer, experience, wise counsel, reason, etc.), but we get to choose how we respond. We both find loads of scriptural support for this belief.

The big difference between Hubs and I on this is that I tend to assume God’s hand in nearly everything – big or teeny, obvious or not, whether I ever get to know how or not. I’m not saying I believe God MAKES everything happen in this fallen world, although I believe He could. Again – He is that good. I’m saying I don’t find scriptural support for the extreme, exclusive idea that He makes EVERYthing happen. Sure, some things He makes happen. But some things He allows to happen. His sovereign will is unknown to us. In all cases, I believe the promise of Romans 8:28.

Who am I to determine what is meaningful or insignificant? The Bible tells me nothing is insignificant to God. The Bible tells me the hairs on my head are actually numbered.

Even being “in the dark,” as it were, I intuitively look for deeper meaning. What is God doing? Why did He allow something to happen? I immediately start thinking and praying about how to respond, whether it be taking action or figuring out what God wants me to learn or take away from the situation.

Last week, I had a friend remark to me “You see God in EVERYTHING.”

quote-lo-the-poor-indian-whose-untutored-mind-sees-god-in-clouds-or-hears-him-in-the-wind-alexander-pope-Not sure I ever consciously thought about it before, but she’s right. I do. I can’t imagine living any other way. To me, it’s completely normal. The fact that I see God in everything is probably one of the reasons I don’t believe in coincidences.

This might be a chicken or the egg kind of thing.

Either way, over the last few months, I’ve seen more of my own fingerprints than God’s. My life was one of the smudgiest sliding glass doors you’ve ever seen. And all the fingerprints were down low. Where I could reach.

To drastically summarize 16 “hard look in the mirror” blog posts: God has been silent in my life for a few months. I don’t like it. At. All. I feel like God the Father has taken His hand off the bicycle seat of my life to teach me…what? To be confident He is there even when I don’t feel the security of His hand? I researched the theology of “the dark night” and came out of all the reading grounded in one of the metaphors. I was going to stop swimming and float. Not drift – with no intention. FLOAT – in the current of God’s will. I wasn’t going to fight the current. I was going to stop swimming in the direction I thought God wanted me to go. I was going to FLOAT.

In the silence.

Seemed like a reasonable plan.

Until the silence became unbearable. I wrote last week, that I came to a breaking point. If you didn’t read that, “CLICK HERE” to check it out.

ya back?

okay. so that Monday night, I went to sleep having intentionally chosen this season of silence and whatever God is teaching me over tried and true past remedies for finding Joy in God. I called it my darkest night.

Tuesday morning, I woke up to an email in my inbox. The local school where I’ve recorded for more than 3 years had two cancellations for that upcoming weekend. Could I cover two vocal labs (recording sessions)? (If you didn’t do it a minute ago, you’re gonna have to read “two steps forward. one step back.” to get the full impact of that “coincidence.”)

and remember. I see God’s hand in EVERYthing.

So, in the spirit of floating, I said yes.

I spent the entire morning looking for two songs to sing. Given that I had less than four days to prepare a lead and at least two harmonies for each song, I focused specifically on songs I already knew. Song after song – one obstacle after another. No track. Background vocals already on the track. Wrong key. just…wrong after wrong after wrong.

I left the house for the afternoon and when I came back, someone had posted on my facebook wall:

“Hey, so you know the song ‘He is with You” by Mandisa? I think you should sing it at church. Take a look….’”

I immediately thought: “Mandisa? I can’t sing Mandisa.” But again, in the spirit of floating, I responded:

“I’m gonna call that a God thing. LocalRecordingSchool called me today asking me to fill in two cancellations this weekend. I struggled to select tracks all day. One down. one to go. Thanks, friend. If the rough cut is any good, I’ll give you a copy.”

And then another facebook friend commented:

“‘There is a God’ by Lee Ann Womack?”

That’s two.

Monday night I had broken down, wimped out and asked God to let me/help me sing again, then almost immediately took back my request, choosing the lesson of the dark night over the temporal blessing that would have come with the singing.

Then all that happened on Tuesday. The fingerprints on my sliding glass door were MUCH bigger than my own.

and they weren’t anywhere near my reach.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | christian living, intentional living, learning curve, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, suffering, thankfulness, the search for Joy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

four minutes with God: 2 Chronicles 5:13-14

a Quote:
“…what I testify to is the power of visual art, and especially music…They have the potential to awaken the mind and heart to aspects of God’s glory that were not perceived before. Paintings or photographs of mountains and streams can call forth a sense of wonder and peace. If we are willing to “look along” (not just “at”) these pictures, as Lewis taught us, our eyes will run up the beams to the Original Glory, and the wonder and peace will rest finally in the wonderful and peaceful mountains and streams of God’s power and mercy.

…We must make it our aim that the joy awakened by music be joy in God…Then the effort to delight in God through music will involve a prior shaping of the mind by the Word…Then the effort to delight in God through music will also involve a thoughtful testing after the music has already awakened joy. Is this joy…stirring my desires to know Christ better and love him more and show him to others at the cost of my own comfort? So before and after music has its immediate effect, we pursue the goal that music make us more glad in the glory of God.”
When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy
by John Piper

my Prayer:
Come Thou Fount Here I raise mine EbenezerLord, thank you for using praise music and my worship through that music to awaken my mind and heart to aspects of Your Glory I had never perceived before. Thank You for the joy it brought and the delight I found in You because of WHO YOU ARE. Thank You for the overwhelming and undeniable awareness of Your presence in those moments. Thank You for helping me to completely forget myself and for moving me into deeper praise, no longer centered in gratitude for Your temporal blessings, but grounded and focused on eternal things: Your Sovereignty, Your Holiness, Your stubborn love for me and my desperate and relentless need for You.

Even though the lesson was one of the hardest I’ve ever faced, thank you for teaching me that finding worship through music wasn’t enough, that it only took me part way. It limited true praise to those brief moments. Thank you for showing me that my dependance on music was quenching Your Spirit. It prevented me from finding joy and delight in WHO YOU ARE in the ordinary, everyday moments of my life. Thank You for the understanding that I can’t find that joy and delight on my own, through my own striving, depending on anything in this world to facilitate it.

Holy Spirit, please bless me with joy and delight, so I won’t be tempted to settle for less by depending on anything or anybody but Christ.

the Word:
“The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:

“He is good; his love endures forever.”

Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God”
2 Chronicles 5:13-14 (NIV)

the lyric.
“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet. Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the Mount I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer. Hither by Thy help I come.
Oh, and I hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home”
sung by Kings Kaleidoscope


[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series "the search for Joy."]

July 10, 2013 Posted by | books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, music, pinterest, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, thankfulness, the search for Joy, what I've learned, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I want me to want You.

yes. I did just sing that to the tune of a Cheap Trick song.

But I’m talking to God:

Lord, I want to wake up every morning aware of an innate desire for intimacy with YOU.

I want God not my idea of God CS LewisI want to delight in YOU.

but I don’t.

I call myself a Christian.

but I can’t remember ever, in my entire life, delighting in ONLY God.

In my memory and conscious understanding, I have always…

ALWAYS

tied my delight in the giver

to the gifts He gives.

I’ve tied the protection to the protector. The blessings to the one who blesses.

And most recently, not only have I tied the art with the artist, but I’ve placed my desire for that art in front of the artist.

I’m really starting to hate my mirror.

the view ain’t pretty.

Have I always tied my delight in Him with the delight I experience when I serve Him by doing something that satisfies, assuages my insecurity or bolsters my ego?

Have I ever simply delighted in the giver? Without experiencing the delight of a gift?

Have I ever delighted in the artist? Without finding delight in the art?

Have I ever found delight in the one who blesses, even when the blessings are disguised as trials?

maybe.

but if I have, I can’t remember it.

If I have, it was fleeting and subconscious. Never sustained or intentional. Don’t remember ever being aware of it.

And now? Now that I’ve intentionally chosen to stop doing the things that fill me with delight, when I’ve intentionally decided to find delight ONLY in Christ….

decided.

I decided.

Go ahead. ask me how that “decision” is working out.

dismal. failure.

It would seem I am as completely incapable of deciding to delight in God as I am in sticking to any other goal I’ve ever set for myself.

This another one of those times where I’m extremely thankful for my belief that I am not special.

Surely I’m not the only one who has failed at this particular goal.

I headed straight for the book that introduced me to the idea of delighting myself in God in the first place. John Piper, don’t fail me now. You better show some personal ugly in the middle of all that theology and lofty vocabulary. I need to see some Jack in you, JP.

God must have led me to it, because I have no idea how I found it. I immediately loved the title: “When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy

3rd sentence in the Forward:

“When all is said and done, only God can create joy in God.”

Sentences 5, 6 and 7:

“To be satisfied by the beauty of God does not come naturally to sinful people. By nature we get more pleasure from God’s gifts than from himself. Therefore this book calls for deep and radical change-which only God can give.”

My inclination was to head straight for Chapter Twelve “When the Darkness Does Not Lift” but I’m gonna hold off skipping to the end.

Instead, I’m jumping to the chapters on prayer because I’m still wresting with with petitionary prayer in light of my overwhelming awareness of just how selfish I am.

Stay tuned. This could be kinda like watching NASCAR, but for Christians. Either I’m going to crash and burn or there’s an epiphany and a straightaway ahead.

Meanwhile, still listening to this:

[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series "the search for Joy."]

June 19, 2013 Posted by | books, christian living, intentional living, learning curve, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, prayer, the search for Joy, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

four minutes with God: Hebrews 4:15-16

a Quote:
“…how did the early Christians pray for joy? First, we may assume that they prayed the prayers of the only Bible that they had, namely, the Old Testament. Thus they would have prayed:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Ps. 90:14).
“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice” (Ps. 51:8).
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps. 51:12).
“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us” (Ps. 90:15).
“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Ps. 85:6).

Don’t miss how radical these prayers are. They assume that we are unable to make ourselves satisfied in God. And they assume that God has the right to do it, is able to do it, and does it in answer to prayer.”

When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy
by John Piper

Gods Mercy Never Fails Hebrews 4 16my Prayer:
Lord, I desperately want to delight only in You. Please help me love you. most.

the Word:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

the lyric.
“Breathe in me Your life. ‘Til Your love overtakes me
Open up my eyes. Let me see You more clearly
Falling on my knees, ’til I love like You love
Like You love me”

by Hillsong

[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series "the search for Joy."]

June 18, 2013 Posted by | books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, music, praise team music, prayer, thankfulness, the search for Joy, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

letting go.

God.

Four years ago, I was content to sing by myself. in the seclusion of my mini-van.

Leading worship never crossed my mind.

Four years ago, I was content to write a blog. about recipes and how to use a neti pot.

Writing a book never crossed my mind.

Four years ago, I was content to lead a monthly psuedo-Bible study. sitting in comfortable chairs in the living rooms of friends.

A speaking ministry never crossed my mind.

WHY?

Why did you allow me to go 4 years in this direction if it’s not the place you wanted me to be? How long do I have to stumble around in this mess I’ve made? How long till I figure out how to climb out of this pit? And how long after that will it take me to turn my face and feet towards next?

I have NO sense that these things I’ve been pursuing are from You.

I have NO confidence in my ability to figure out where to place my foot.

so I find myself unable to take a step.

I’m standing still.

paralyzed.

by the nagging thought that I have to let it go.

all of it.

And every time the thought crosses my mind, I cry.

SERIOUSLY.

cry?

dammit!

dammit. dammit. dammit.

I do NOT cry.

and it’s really starting to tick me off.

dammit!

Crying is a flippin WASTE of time. When I’m done, nothing has changed.

Except that I have a headache. and my mascara is shot.

And so I take the chicken walk.

If these desires are not from You – if they are, in fact, selfish – I’m asking you to TAKE them.

TAKEthemTAKEthemTAKEthem. I don’t want them.

LET. THEM. DIE.

DIE.

Painlessly would be my preference.

tested by fire 1 peter 1 6-7But part of me knows that if You really did allow these desires to grow over the last 4 years – only to get me to this place of recognition that I love them too much – you did it to teach me.

That I need to be satisfied in YOU, Jesus.

I need to find joy in YOU.

Leading worship isn’t enough.

Writing about You isn’t enough.

Telling people about You isn’t enough.

YOU are enough. You should be enough.

Part of me wonders.

knows.

That You’ve allowed me to go so far down this path because You needed me to be this wrecked about being so selfish.

Some say I’m under spiritual attack.

maybe.

if so, Satan’s doing a damn good job.

But I have to ask myself.

Am I being disciplined?

Am I being pruned?

Are these thoughts from You?

I can’t discount the possibility.

I can’t automatically assume that Satan is attacking me with doubt and discouragement.

Because You are sovereign, I believe nothing happens to me that You don’t allow.

double negative.

Is that what I’m being?

Right now, everything I see about this ministry I’ve been pursuing is about me. What I want. Me trying to manufacture something. If this is true, the hours I’ve wasted are incalculable. If this is true, I need to turn my back on this self-indulgent disobedience. And if this is true, it completely sucks. Because even after looking straight in the face of this possibility – even knowing I need You to be enough – without these dreams – I’m still mourning the death of them.

Lord, if I’m wrong, you’re going to have to show me.

Smack me upside the head.

because I don’t trust my judgement.

and I am SICK TO DEATH OF THE WHINING.

and seriously. I’m OVER the crying.

It is NOT working for me.

I don’t want to do it anymore.

“To say to Him that something else satisfies you more is the opposite of worship. It is sacrilege.”
Desiring God by John Piper

CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”

May 29, 2013 Posted by | books, christian living, intentional living, learning curve, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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