In Like A Lion

In like a lion and out like a lamb is a term that is usually applies to March. I think this year it applies better to the season of Lent. I’ve been praying Ephesians 3:20-21 this season. I’ve been asking the God who is “able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine” to help me imagine and ask things for His Kingdom. Lent started this past week and Sunday was the 1st Sabbath day in the season. To say it came in like a lion would be an understatement.

It felt like a strangely difficult Sunday to me when I walked in the sanctuary door for praise band practice at 8:30am. I was pretty tired from losing an hour with the time change the night before. The tragedy in Japan had been on all of our minds which added to the exhaustion. In the morning service we prayed for a lady in our congregation whose cousin was brutally murdered since we last worshiped together one week earlier. While we were still praying for that need a gentleman in our congregation collapsed and the EMT’s had to be called in. This was all happening right in the middle of the service.

And there I was on the platform in front of everyone and like everyone else, I was wondering what to do. I dismissed the praise team and just started playing my acoustic guitar singing, “I need you Jesus, to come to my rescue. Where else can I go? There’s no other name by which I am saved. Capture me with grace, I will follow you.” That led into the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour”. What else could any of us do but pray and acknowledge that we were desperate people who are really much weaker than we think we are?

It was an exhausting Sunday for me. As I set down my guitar after we sang “The Stand” together I just felt like weeping. I think I needed a release, but didn’t get one. Maybe we all did. It was a sobering start to the season of Lent and yet I can’t help but think of the words of Ephesians 3:20-21 that I along with the several in our congregation had been praying. God is “able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.” None of us imagined Lent would start of like that, but it did. We decided to walk with Jesus on this difficult journey to the cross. We entered down this difficult road. I don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not God caused these events. I just know without a doubt that He was there right in the middle of all of it. He never left us and in fact it drew us closer to Him.

It’s scary to follow Jesus to the cross, but we are in with both feet now. Let’s keep going. He has more for us to imagine than these present difficulties. IN spite of what we may see, what hospital room we are in, or what natural disaster ensues, there will be resurrection. Easter is coming. Don’t believe your eyes, believe the promise. Only by experiencing death can we also experience resurrection. Come quickly Lord Jesus. In like a Lion, out like a spotless Lamb.

Lent In the Dryer

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. It marks the time when we journey into the season of Lent through the desert. A desert is a very dry, very hot place. With the lack of moisture things begin to dry out and crack. While deserts can be beautiful places, to me they can be scary places if you were to ever end up there alone. Why is it scary? Because the terrain is uncharted. It’s not like Rand McNally has a desert atlas to get you from point A to point B. We know that Lent is point A and Easter is point B but it’s the journey to get there that makes it so scary. On the journey to resurrection, death must first be experienced.

The journey through the desert is scary, and even dangerous. That’s why we need a guide who has walked this journey before; a pioneer of sorts who knows the cracked, difficult, dangerous areas of the desert. He guide may not be able to take us away from the difficulties ahead, but he can certainly be there with us and order your steps for us. The guide will suffer every step you suffer.

Now, we don’t have to take this dangerous journey through the dry and barren land, but if we don’t we will never find the everlasting life that waits at teh end of the long journey. Will you journey with me this Lent? Will you be courageous enough to let Jesus be your guide? If more of us embark on this journey together, then fewer of us will have to take it alone.

Ode To A Cat.

A grace day is what I call yesterday. It was a tough day all around. I think as a general rule people hate it when you go on about your dead pet, at least I do. However, yesterday my day started with the death of my cat that I owned for over 12 years. So, if you don’t want to hear my therapy session about dealing with the death of Muff, then you don’t have to read this. There’s a whole internet out there so get on with it.

I’m not a cat person, when I got divorced my ex-wife didn’t think she would be able to take him and I didn’t have the heart to get rid of him since I am a softy. Oddly enough, he became a good friend. He didn’t do much other than sleep or eat but it was nice just to have him around. Something about the purr of my furry white friend that made me feel at relaxed and even loved.

Now, he did often try to drink the milk in my cereal bowl, and I didn’t dare leave a glass of water untended or next thing you knew he’s be helping himself. His white hair got all over everything and on occasion I would find a piece of it in my food. Gross to the 3rd power. Speaking of gross, I hated changing his litter box, and cleaning the carpet of his hacked up fur balls. So why do I miss this cat you ask?

All in all, he stuck with me through good and bad. In my lonely moments he just seemed to know when I needed company and would be content to sleep somewhere near me or on my lap. He loved a good french fry. He liked to lay in my dirty clothes hamper for some reason while I was away. I like to think it reminded him of me. I talked to him like he was a person, since there often were no people around, and he would usually just reply back with a quick “meow”. He lived for Cat Nip and Whiskas treats.

He was suffering in the last few hours of his life, so I’m glad he is now doing what he loved best, sleeping. (He was worthless if he didn’t get 22 hours of sleep a night.) The vet called me at 7:00am to let me know Muff didn’t make it through the night. I have guilt that I wasn’t there with him. The rest of my day pretty much did what vaccum cleaners do. (No, not sit in the corner for weeks at a time smarty pants.)

I had a bad headache, cried for about 2 minutes in the cat after I left the vet’s office, worked most of the day, tried to lay down for a nap a couple of times to get rid of my headache but every time I dozed off the phone rang. Seemed like every person I came in contact with got on my last nerve. Probably more me, than them honestly.

I would say I had a bad day, but I don’t think God makes bad days. It was a grace day. Every day is a grace day, but days like yesterday remind me just how much I need grace. They remind me how much I need to give grace to others. It’s on days like that when you just want to stop the world and leave for a bit that everyone seems to be pestering you and not giving you the time you need. That makes it a day to give grace to others, even when I needed it for myself.

Days like yesterday remind me that God has made death a part of life and even the death of a cat is sacred. Again, I’m not a cat person so it’s weird for me to say that. But he wasn’t just any cat, he was my cat. And the God that extends His grace to me is not just the gracious God of the living, but He is the gracious God over death and the grave as well. If there is a place in heaven for my cat then all I can say is: ‘God, keep an eye on your water glass.’

So long old friend.

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My Fishman SA200

I’m not exactly a handyman. The words that come together to spell the word handyman describe me in some small ways.

  • Hand- I have two of these.
  • Man- I am one, although I do get tears in my eyes at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Also when I hit my hand with a hammer. Or when I’m waterboarded by the U. S. Government.
  • y- Seems like I’m always asking questions because I don’t understand how things work.

In spite of not being a Handyman I feel quite handy today. This morning I actually took my Fishman SA220 Acoustic sound system apart, changed one of the circuit boards, and then put it all back together.

I had been having some feedback problems when using this system on the road and I am so happy to say that the problem seems to be fixed. Played several riffs from “Carry On My Wayward Son” through it on my Acoustic Guitar and the tone is sweeter than ever. (Please don’t ask me why I played ne of Rock-n-Roll’s greatest Electric guitar riffs through an acoustic amp with an acoustic guitar. I just did okay).

Since the problem seems to be fixed I guess I will move on the next part of my day. I’m getting married in 24 days, 22 hours, and 24 minutes and have lots to pack up for my upcoming move. I’m very excited to have found love again in my life. I look forward to the future. God is very good to me and surprised me with joy after a lot of heartache in the past 4 years. I never thought I would be in love again as I never thought I would find someone I wanted to give my heart to. Thanks God for finding her for me. You are a wonderful Father.

Oh, almost forgot. I also got an encouraging Email from an old college friend today, Greg Voiles. He was one of my best friends and although we don’t get to talk often anymore, I love how good friends seem to be able to just pick up where they left off even years later and still find the brotherhood in Christ that is there.

What else before I sign off. Um, I am now the proud owner of an original copy of the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 featuring the Avengers and the Hulk. Good stuff. Well I better get on with my day now. Coffee break is over, and I didn’t even have coffee.

Hello world!

Welcome to my first ever WordPress blog. I am new to this type of blogging. I’m not sure anyone ever reads anything other than Facebook or Twitter anymore so this may actually take the form of an online diary for me. I would love for it to be a place of open dialogue about anything under the sun. I feel like so much of what I do online is to promote my career as a musicians I envision this being a place that I can come and just be me. Rick Lee James, the person. The guy who loves his soon to be wife Jenn, likes to read comics, hang out in book stores, drink coffee, talk about movies, music, and life.

You are welcome to join me here. Who knows what may come to mind.

Blessings,

Rick Lee James