In The Studio This Week

Nashville Bound

Tracking For The New Record Begins This Week

Good Day,
I hope that this update finds you well. The advent season is upon us again and with it, as always, is much busyness. In addition to the normal Yuletide events this year, This year I add recording a new album to the schedule. This Thursday I will begin my drive to Nashville Tennessee and on Friday morning we will begin tracking the new album. I am so excited about this as I’m sure you are well aware. I have dreamed of an opportunity like this for so many years and God is finally open the door. I am so blessed to work with Lifeway Worship, Producer Craig Adams, A list musicians, and the top engineers in Nashville on this project.

I believe we have come up with a title that encapsulates this project. We think the title will be Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations. I am so blessed by so many of you given how did your resources to make this album the reality. Make God bless you in this holiday season and renew your faith in Christ. I covet your prayers as we begin this recording process and I ask you to pray for others will be renewed in their faith as a result of this endeavor. While we want to make great music, the goal is to reveal Jesus and the present reality of the kingdom of God.

I’ll do my best to update you on line through Facebook and Twitter (@RickLeeJames) while I am in Nashville with pictures and more as I am able. I feel very blessed today and I can’t wait to share the songs with you as a complete collection.

Blessings,
Rick Lee James

www.RickLeeJames.com

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And Can It Be – A Hymn Story

Take the $5.00 Challenge at http://www.GoFundMe.com/Hymns

Take the $5.00 Challenge at http://www.GoFundMe.com/Hymns

And Can It Be – a Hymn Story

There’s just no doubt about it, Charles Wesley was a Hymn writing machine. Most scholars believe there are around 5000 songs attributed to him. In the last few weeks I’ve been asking people, what is your favorite hymn? The most repeated answer by far is And Can It Be by Charles Wesley.

Now, You might think a song this popular among Christians of every denomination would have come from a seasoned hymn writer who had been a believer for years, but the fact is that ‘And Can It Be’ was one of the first hymns that Wesley ever wrote, and he wrote it two day safter his conversion.

Both Charles and his brother John were ordained ministers in the Anglican Church who founded a holy club which would ultimately become the Methodist church. In October of 1735 Charles and John took journey across the ocean as missionaries to the colony of Georgia. This trip did not turn out well. Both of them were largely rejected by the settlers in Savannah. In August of 1736 the Wesley brothers returned to England, broken, tired, and ill, never to return to America again. Both brothers came home asking questions about their faith. John is famously quoted as saying, “I went to convert the Indians, but oh, who shall convert me?”

After they returned home they met a Moravian named Peter Bohler. Bohler spent a great deal of time with the Wesleys discussing the Christian faith and he became a spiritual mentor to them, speaking with them often of the necessity of prayer and faith. He urged them to focus less on what they wanted to achieve for God, and more on what God could do for and through them. Charles in particular, like most creative types, viewed himself as being worthless and beyond Gods grace. Bohler said of him, “(Charles) is very much distressed in mind and does not know how he shall begin to be aquainted with the Saviour.”

In May of 1738 Charles had taken ill again and Bohler prayer at his bedside for his healing and recovery, then taking Charles hand he said, “You will not die now”. Bohler asked Charles whether he hoped to be one of the saved. Charles responded that he had used his best endeavours to serve God, believing that salvation needed to be earned. Charles fear of dying was a confirmation for him that even though he was a minister, he was not a reborn Christian.

Charles had many struggles with illness and it drove him to seek to know Christ more. On May 17, 1938, Charles was given a copy Martin Luther’s book on Galatians. In reading this Charles was shocked to find that that Bohler’s views, which he had resisted, were not new, but were also the views of Luther. That night Charles had a true experience of conversion. In a journal he wrote, “At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think.”

He also journaled, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood.” Two days after this experience he began writing a hymn that we now know as And Can It Be. The hymn was first published in John Wesley’s Psalms and Hymns in 1738, then in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739 with the subtitle, Free Grace. In a poetic manner, this hymn proclaims the mystery of God’s grace extended to sinners who turn in faith to the risen Christ. Wesley’s use of methor contrasting light and darkness, slavery and freedom, life and death, and Christ’s righteousness and our unworthiness is a beautiful example not only of a life transformed by Christ, but of a masterful lyricist.

 

 

 

Lyrics:

And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Savior’s blood?

Died He for me, who caused His pain—

For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be,

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Amazing love! How can it be,

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:

Who can explore His strange design?

In vain the firstborn seraph tries

To sound the depths of love divine.

’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,

Let angel minds inquire no more.

’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;

Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above

So free, so infinite His grace—

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam’s helpless race:

’Tis mercy all, immense and free,

For O my God, it found out me!

’Tis mercy all, immense and free,

For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,

That whispers all my sins forgiven;

Still the atoning blood is near,

That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.

I feel the life His wounds impart;

I feel the Savior in my heart.

I feel the life His wounds impart;

I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;

Alive in Him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach th’eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Bold I approach th’eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Be Thou My Vision – A Hymn Story

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Be Thou My Vision – A Hymn Story

In 433 A. D., the Irish King, Logaire of Tara, had enacted a decree that no one could light candles on the Eve of Easter because it coincided with the Druid Feast of Bealtine and the Spring Eqinox. It was the tradition of these Pagan festivals to observe the “fireless night”, when all fires in Ireland were to be extinguished. On the Hill of Tara, in the presence of the High King, a massive bonfire was lit and from this all other fires were to be lit. This annual spring ritual was said to transform the High King into a God-King. The bonfire on the Hill of Tara was the symbol to all that this God-King was in command of the seasons, and that spring began at his command.

Legend has it that in clear defiance of this Pagan observance, St. Patrick built a Paschal bonfire on he hill of Slane, a Christian strong point located ten miles away from the Pagan Strong Point on the Hill of Tara. Patrick built his fire before the the king of Tara built his. The fire from the Hill of Slane would have been clearly seen from the Hill of Tara, and was a blatant statement that Christ was the only God-King for the Christian. Patrick chose to honor God in spite of how it would threaten his life and the story goes that King Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s bravery and devotion to Christ that he left him to continue his missionary work in Ireland.

An 8th Century Monk, Dallan Forgaill, penned the words to Be Thou My Vision as a tribute to St. Patrick and his bravery on the Hill of Slane. This hymn was translated from Irish to English in 1905 by Mary E. Byrne and in 1912, Eleanor H. Hull arranged the song into the verse most commonly found in most English hymnals today. The music that accompanies the lyrics is an ancient Irish folk tune called Slane.

This is my tribute to Patrick and to the God he served so faithfully, my rendition of Be Thou My Vision.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

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p style=”text-align:center;”> Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

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Take the $5.00 Challenge - Make The Record

Take the $5.00 Challenge – Make The Record

Hymn Project Update

 

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Do You Have A Favorite Hymn?
Let Me Play It For You

Good Evening,
If you read my blog then you know that I’m in the middle of a campaign to raise money for my first ever hymns record, with 5 time Dove Award winning producer Craig Adams. As a part of this process I am recording new videos each week for YouTube featuring hymns that are special to supporters of this project. I would love to know not only some of your favorite hymns but the stories behind them of why they are special to you. Simply reply to this Email, send me a Facebook message, and Tweet me to let me know some hymn you would like me to record.

I’m also pleased to announce that we have met now met 1% of our goal to get this album made. Today we also had our first $100.00 donation. I know that may not seem like a lot with a $30,000.00 budget, but I’m counting 1% as the first of many victories with a project this huge.

We just need to do what we’ve already done 99 more times and we can make this hymns record happen. Please keep telling your friends by sharing the video on YouTube. The more times it is seen, the better visibility it will have on the internet and the more likely we are to get more supporters. Let’s shoot for 400 plays by the end of Monday. That would be awesome.

And remember, if we can just get 6000 people to give $5.00 each we will have met our goal.

You all bless me and I am thankful to partner with you on this endeavor.

In His Glad Service,
Rick Lee James

The Hymn Project Video Link
CLICK HERE TO WATCH

 

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How Do We Love Our Enemies? How Do We Pray For ISIS? How Did Jesus Do It?

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How do we pray for our enemies? Are we called to pray any differently in times like these when terrorists groups like ISIS slaughter people without remorse? Isn’t this just like the world Jesus was in 2000 years ago when Romans occupied his Jewish homeland, enslaved his people, and demanded that they declare “Caesar Is Lord” or face execution? Is it any different than ISIS forcing victims to convert to Islam or die today?

It’s hard to be like Jesus these days. It was hard to be like Jesus 2000 years ago as well. It was hard for Jesus to be like Jesus, but he was like Jesus all the way to the cross, and back. That is to say, Jesus was being like God, perfect as He is perfect. His call to His followers is to follow His example and to do the same. What would Jesus do? Jesus would die for the sins of man. Maybe a better way to say it is, Jesus would die by the sins of man, at the hands of sinful men. In fact, Jesus did die, at the hands of sinful men, execution by sinfulness.

Being like Jesus so often will lead us to the wrong side of a cross, a machine gun, a knife, machete, or a death squad, but I don’t think He was kidding when he taught his followers to take up their cross and follow him. It’s insane, but it’s an insanity that ushers the Kingdom of God into the world.

“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.”

Do we mean that in the bad times when our lives are at stake?

Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.

Do we mean that when terrorists like ISIS are threatening to kill, steal, and destroy our families and take our lives?

Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.

Are we willing to bless when we are cursed? Are we willing to bless the common cup and share the common bread, even when Judas is at the table?

God never created an evil thing. There is no evil anywhere that was created by God. God is love and every act of God is an act of love. Evil is a distortion of the good things of God. ISIS is made up of humans who are created in God’s good image. However, that image has been distorted by sin and evil. God creates and redeems, but these men are doing the opposite of that, they are destroying and causing chaos.
These are not things blessed by God, willed by God, condoned by God, or overlooked by God. It doesn’t matter if they do it in God’s name or not, these murderous acts are not of God. Religion enforced by violence is not true religion! It never has been and it never will be. ISIS is a distortion of the good things that God has made, namely human beings. These men are not being their true selves, they are not being who God made them to be. They are distortions of human beings, not the holy thing God created them to be.
My prayer is that God would restore his image in these human beings in spite of the evil things they have done and are doing. Show them Your Glory, O God, and in doing so bring them to repentance. The God we serve is a God that can change even the cold hearts of the men in ISIS. Only God can do the healing that needs so desperately to be done.
Lord, break the bows and shatter the spears. Make every missile miss it’s Mark and let every bullet be a dud. Thwart the plans of the wicked and restore them, to your image, O God. Bring violent men to justice and heal the wounded hearts and shattered lives of the people who have become victims of their deeds.
Bring about a forgiveness and mercy that only you can bring. You are the God who bore the worst that man can do on a Roman cross. Mankind is at it again, doing the worst that they can do. Overcome them, Lord, In Jesus name. Save, O God. Protect the innocent.
Deliver the suffering, O God of love. Above all, let Christians who are suffering, show the world what Jesus looks like, even in their suffering. Help your followers to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. This cannot be done without divine intervention, Lord. We simply don’t have it in us to love people who cut innocent children in half, but You call us to do it anyway. This is what we signed up for when we signed up to follow you, Jesus. If it takes our death to show the love of Jesus then let the love of Christ be seen in death and in life, for we believe it can change the world. It is a path we can only take because you took it for us, showing the way. I pray for the victims as I would pray for myself, let Jesus be seen, and come quickly Lord.
And since you call us to pray for our enemies as fervently as we pray for our loved ones, we pray for ISIS. Stop them, discipline them, punish them, bring them to repentance, save them, and turn them into brothers in Christ. Bring to them an overwhelming remorse for what they have done and are doing. Change things, Lord. Set this right. Make all things new. Show us Your Glory and make wars cease to the ends of the earth. We don’t believe violence will ever stop violence, but we believe the love of Christ can.
And We believe the words we declare in our creeds.

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

(The Maasai Creed composed in 1960 by the Maasai people of East Africa)

 

 

Published on Aug 13, 2013
Lead Sheet Available at this link:
http://www.noteflight.com/scores/view/3ba9459bf5f952a99f3997477058d30d11f85429

Lyrics and Music by Rick Lee James
Love Our Enemies

Verse 1
God has made this declaration
through His Son, the Prince of Peace,
that to enter in His Kingdom
we must love our enemies.
They may seem our adversaries
but are merely slaves to sin,
so our battle is not with them
who are only hostages

Verse 2
Lord, deliver us from hatred,
prejudice, and cruelty.
Come remove discrimination
that the truth may set us free.
When we look at our reflection
we not only see ourselves
but we see a former captive
whom the grace of God has helped.

Verse 3
Father, show us how to free them
with Your mercy above
for our enemies are brothers
who’ve forgotten how to love.
You have made us in your image,
You’ve redeemed us through Your son.
Gather us into Your Kingdom
where no sword is drawn but love.

Verse 4
Jesus Christ, is our example
showing us the face of God
when He chose to die for sinners
rather than to shed their blood.
So we’ll fight them with affection,
we will conquer them with grace.
May our enemies see Jesus
when they look upon our face

Verse 5
In His time and for His pleasure
pray we all will stand one day
reconciled before the Father
when the old has passed away.
When revenge would cloud our vision
turn our eyes to Calvary
where our Savior died to show us
how to love our enemies.

Ending
Lord and Maker of creation,
every life is dear to Thee
In the holy name of Jesus
help us love our enemies