When Praise is a Sacrifice

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. ~ Hebrews 13:15

Do you know that sometimes praise is a sacrifice? When there’s nothing left to praise but the air you are breathing and you praise God for air. When you’d just as soon not wake up for another day and you praise God for the bed you’re lying on. When there’s no comfort or relief so you praise God for revealing himself so you have somewhere to direct your thoughts when you’re suffering.

Sometimes praise hurts. Sometimes it starts as a bitter complaint. Sometimes praise has no emotion or action behind it because only your will can move in the direction of God. This is a sacrifice of praise. This is the sort of sacrifice God will never, ever turn away.

If your praises are sacrifices right now, I want to share a song with you. Many Sundays in our home after yet another week of one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another, my husband will put this song on repeat and dance around with the kids. Because sometimes there’s nothing left to do but praise him!

Here’s the link for those of you reading this by email. Continue reading “When Praise is a Sacrifice”

Prayers of Faith

Earlier this year, I did a series of posts on why God doesn’t answer prayers. My reason for writing the posts was to push back against the common church narrative which says that if you just have enough faith, God will answer your prayers. I think this is such a problematic teaching as it basically teaches us that if our lives are hard and God is not answering our prayers, it is because our faith is inadequate. We didn’t believe hard or well enough to be rewarded with answered prayers. Which just isn’t true and encourages us to engage in the sort of magical thinking that keeps fairies alive. I suspect that this teaching results in very few answered prayers and a whole lot of burnt out, discouraged Christians.

The other day, I read a wonderful post on just this topic titled “Why Your Prayer Will not Be Answered” which pointed something out which I wanted to pass on to y’all. It was written by John Igbinovia. (Yes that John Igbinovia, also known as XTsamurai, also known as the Nigerian musician I wrote about yesterday. I wasn’t kidding when I said that he was an exceptional person.) At any rate, in it John explains a few things about what faith is and what faith is not:

Faith is NOT the same as belief. . . If GOD has not given insight about a situation to you, there is NOTHING to faith.

All you have is passionate ardent belief that is your HOPE – and it is fine to act with the hopes of getting what you want and telling God, your Father, what your desires are. . . Faith is acting based on a KNOWING of God’s intention about something. Basically, there is a plan about a person or situation that God is bringing about and somehow, you have been able to hear or “hear”, as in know SOMEHOW on the inside, what God intends to DO. Praying with that understanding simply aligns with what God plans to DO already

“Faith cometh by hearing the word of God”. If you have not heard, what are you “faithing’’?

Mmmmm . . . Doesn’t that explain so much? We have our hopes and desires and even bible verses which can be read to say that God will give us what we hope for and desire. Then when God does not answer our prayers of hope, we feel betrayed and confused. But it’s not our prayers of hope that God answers, it’s our prayers of faith. And faith comes from the promises we’ve been given, not from our own desires for what we want: Continue reading “Prayers of Faith”

Fighting God

If you are a Christian who takes the bible seriously, there will often come a point where you feel hamstrung by the bible. You may be inclined to, say, allow women into ministry or accept gay marriage or get a tattoo. But there are those bible verses which clearly speak against them. So, out of obedience to God, you accept that God works in mysterious ways, his ways are always good and some things are just beyond us.

In response to your faithfulness, other people get mad at you and call you sexist or homophobic or legalistic or whatever. And depending on how well you know Jesus, you either humbly take it in stride or you fight back. (You have to know Jesus really, really well to be capable of taking it all in stride, btw.) After a while you can end up feeling like you’re standing on the razor’s edge between being faithful and being a loving, decent person.

But Jesus said that the truth would set us free and standing on a razor’s edge doesn’t leave much room for freedom, does it? Somehow, simply being faithful to scripture has left you standing on one spot, unable to move, exposed to the world’s wrath and struggling against your own weaknesses. It doesn’t feel much like freedom.

The problem is a problem which God has been dealing with since time immemorial. The problem is with us and lies at the very heart of our relationship with God, self and other.

You see, God loves humanity. He’s on our side. We, however, struggle to love ourselves and each other. And the only way we can comprehend God’s love for humanity is if it is foreign and strange. If God loves humanity, he must not love the same way that we love, because there’s no way God can look at us with all our sin and failure and be happy with us. So we’re not too surprised when God tells us to do things which don’t make sense; we’re really not capable of understanding God’s love, after all.

Great, you say. That may well be true, but what does that have to do with the uncomfortable position Christians often find themselves in when following the bible? Well, let I explain. Continue reading “Fighting God”

A Prayer for Easter Morning

Father God, We come to you today as a family of the broken, the humbled, the weak and the victorious. We have walked down dark paths and through dark places. We have been wounded, we have been lost and we have been foolish. Yet no matter how hopeless or empty our spirit’s dwelling places have been, Easter morning is always there speaking victory to us. … Continue reading A Prayer for Easter Morning

It’s OK To Say . . .

It’s OK to say to God, “I don’t know how to do what you’re asking me to do. I don’t know how to be loving or kind or patient or forgiving. I don’t know how to want to do any of those things!” Christians who can’t admit this inability to perform the basic requirements of Christianity are like toddlers who won’t admit they need help … Continue reading It’s OK To Say . . .

The Hardest, Best Spiritual Practice I’ve Ever Tried

Learning how not to judge has been the most demanding, arduous and painful spiritual discipline I have ever undertaken. It’s also been the most fruitful. I could probably write books and books filled with stories and lessons I would never have encountered if I had not made a commitment to practicing this discipline.

While most people probably don’t think of not judging as a spiritual discipline, this is exactly how I’ve practiced it. It’s something I do out of obedience and discipline, even when I don’t feel like it or it seems pointless. It’s a conscious practice I have chosen to engage in and must make an effort to do.

Not judging is like loving unconditionally in that people who have never really tried doing it assume it’s an easy, comfortable and safe thing to do. The truth is it’s unbelievably challenging. Most people can’t even manage it when someone cuts them off in traffic. Continue reading “The Hardest, Best Spiritual Practice I’ve Ever Tried”

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Meditate Like Jesus

What if I told you that I held the secret to meditating like Jesus did? And that I have been practicing it with amazing results for 15 years? And I can teach you the secret to meditating like Jesus did. Would you pay me $29.95 for access to an online book explaining the secret of this great mystery? Pay to attend a seminar to learn … Continue reading Meditate Like Jesus

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Take Courage

I think courage is a terribly underappreciated virtue. There’s a tendency to see courage as something a soldier or a superhero needs to face grave danger, while failing to realize how much courage everyday life requires. You can’t grow as a person or keep a living faith life without ample amounts of courage. The Greek word for courage is tharseo. Jesus uses it four times. … Continue reading Take Courage

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What God Told Me Yesterday

“I want you to know I never believed the things people said about you. Those people who said they could see better than you could what your faults are? I never saw what they thought they were seeing in you. All those times you were told that you are lazy or selfish or undisciplined or a stubborn know-it-all? I always thought the people saying those … Continue reading What God Told Me Yesterday