Month: August 2015

Offering a Sacrifice of Praise

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In order to reach people we’re currently not reaching, we’re going to have to start doing things that we’re currently not doing.

Some of the experiments may be things that are to our personal preference.

AND…some of the experiments that the church will engage in may not be things that are to our personal liking.

Here’s the thing…if we’re going to Christ’s church who exists to “Make Disciples, Grow Disciples, and Share the Love of Christ with All People,” we’re going to have to do things that may not be to our personal liking in order for us to accomplish our mission.

Some of us prefer the old time hymns. I think they’re great too!

Some of us prefer rock and roll. I do too.

Some of us grew up with liturgy and when we hear a great organ piece we are moved to tear. Me too.

Some of us never grew up in the church and find such music dreadfully boring. I get it.

But is worship really about meeting our needs or has God called us to worship for a cause that’s much bigger than our personal needs?

One of the resources I use for my daily devotionals is I found a very helpful entry that I would like to share with you.

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Offering a Sacrifice of Praise

There is an old saying many Christians use: “Offer the Lord a sacrifice of praise,” referring to Hebrews 13:15. In many circles this notion of a “sacrifice of praise” almost becomes cliché. (Perhaps because worship does not often come at much cost, especially compared with the sacrifices of saints who’ve gone before us.) But when we worship with folks of various traditions, there are times when we may hear a prayer that uses language we might not naturally use or sing a song that isn’t really our style. That is part of what it means to be a member of a community as diverse as the church is. And perhaps that also helps shed some light on why it might require some sacrifice for us to give up ourselves.

When a song isn’t working for you, consider praising God, because that probably means it is working for someone else who is very different from you. Offer your worship as a sacrifice rather than requiring others to sacrifice for your pleasure or contentment. There is something to the notion of becoming one as God is one; it doesn’t mean that we are the same; it just means that we are united by one Spirit. After all, we can become one only if there are many of us to begin with.

Liturgy puts a brake on narcissism. Certainly, there is something beautiful about contemporary worship, where we can take old things and add a little spice to them, like singing hymns to rock tunes or reciting creeds as spoken word rhymes. But liturgy protects us from simply making worship into a self-pleasing act. So if a song or prayer doesn’t quite work for you, be thankful that it is probably really resonating with someone who is different from you, and offer a sacrifice of praise.


Existing? or Thriving?

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What we cannot live without:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing

What we cannot thrive without:

  • Love
  • Community
  • Purpose
  • Meaning
  • Forgiveness

Once you secure the items on the first list, unless you discover love, find community, discern your purpose and meaning, and experience and give forgiveness, your life will remain empty.

The first list has to do with surviving and existing. The second has to do with meaning and thriving.

The greatest irony in the developed world is that the items on the first list are readily available to most, and yet we never move beyond seeking survival to living out our purpose.

As a result, far too many, live life listless, aimless, seeking one fleeting pleasure to the next.


You were created to make a difference.

You were created for a reason.

God placed you in your particular situation, in your particular place, and with your particular gifts so that God can reach into your world, and through you, to change the world.

Coolest Book Store in Washington

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Today, I ran into one of the best book stores I’ve been to in a long time. And the coolest things about it was that it was pure luck we found it.

Screenshot 2015-08-14 at 11.05.45 PMI was taking my family to the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma. As we were looking for a place to park, we ran into the Tacoma Book Center just before we got to the LeMay Car Museum next to the Tacoma Dome.

I had been to the Tacoma Dome multiple times, to LeMay Car Museum twice, and never noticed the book store until today.

The book store is located at 324 E 26th St Tacoma, WA 98421. You can also find them at

Don’t let the web site discourage you. The web site kind of looks like what this book store is. It’s just books. They’re not into fancy sitting areas, coffees and teas, free wifi, etc. Just hundreds of thousands of used books!

If you’re looking for a Barnes and Noble type experience, go to Barnes and Noble.

This is nothing but books from the floor to the ceiling.

But if you’re looking for some hidden gems and a good deal on used books, this is your place. Screenshot 2015-08-14 at 11.05.14 PM

I could have spent hours in the store looking at books. But my three kids were getting tired of waiting and were pretty eager to get to the LeMay Car Museum.

In the thirty minutes or so I did spend in the store, I purchased a couple of C.S. Lewis books and even my kids picked up a couple of books.

I’m already looking forward to the next time when I will really have some time to check out the books at the coolest book store in Washington!

God Always Answers Prayers

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Do they even work? Does God even care? Does God hear? Does God answer?

Followers of Jesus know that prayer is supposed to be one of our daily practices of our faith.

But do we really believe prayer works? Do we really believe that God answers our prayers?

God absolutely answers all prayer.

God may not answer all prayer in the way we want them answered, or in the time that we want them answered.

But God always answers prayers.

Here are the four ways that God answers prayer.

  1. If the request is wrong, God will say, “No”. No is a legitimate answer. We say no all the time. When our request is wrong, God will say, “No.”
    • God, can I have a million dollars? I would like to buy a bunch a new toys.
    • God, I would like ______ to fall in love with me.
    • God, I would like for you to smite all my enemies!
  2. If the timing is not right, God will say, “Wait.” There may be times when the request is right, but the timing may not be right. In those cases, God’s answer is “Wait”.
    • I have a ten year old boy. If he were to ask me if he can drive, the answer is wait. It’s not a forever “No” because I fully expect him to drive when he turns 16. But it would be totally irresponsible for me to allow him to drive when he’s 10.
    • When the timing is not right, God’s answer is “Wait.”
  3. If I am not right, God’s answer to my prayer is “Grow.”
    • God, I want to be a leader of a mega-enterprise for your kingdom.
    • The prayer and the request may be God-honoring and good. However, if I am not ready, if I am not mature enough to handle the pressures of leading such an enterprise, God cannot answer the prayer in the way I want them answered.
    • When I am not right, God will answer my prayer with, “James, grow.”
  4. If the request is right, the timing is right, and I am right, God will say, “GO!!!”
    • God absolutely loves to answer prayers.
    • God delights in seeing his children live fully into his kingdom vision.

Here’s the thing about prayer. For the most part, the way we practice prayer is as if God were a genie. Most of our prayer times consist of us saying a bunch of stuff to God…mostly, telling God what we want done. And then when we’re done telling God what we want done in our world, we end it with an Amen and go about our day.

But don’t you think, if we’re genuinely asking God about things, and we pray because we believe God hears and answers our prayers, that we ought to spend as much time listening for God’s voice and guidance?