Walter Brueggemann with Rick Lee James on the Voices In My Head Podcast: Episode #152

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What a treat it was to have Dr. Walter Brueggemann on the Voices In My Head Podcast. We had such a great discussion talking about theology, music, and where we will go if we die tonight. This episode was recorded on location at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Cincinnati Ohio on Wednesday September 30th.

Walter Brueggemann To Guest on Voices In My Head Podcast and Other News

September 2015

I hope your September is off to a great start. It’s been a while since I wrote one of these so I thought I should give you some big news.

I am so excited to announce that Dr. Walter Brueggemann will be joining me on September 11th as my guest on Voices In My Head (The Rick Lee James Podcast). Brueggemann is widely considered one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of the last several decades and has greatly influenced my own thinking.

If you would like to submit a question or comment for me to share with Dr. Brueggemann on September 11th, please email them to

We’ve already got some great ones and are only sharing the best ones so put your thinking caps on.

For an archive of our past podcasts go to

On September 22nd I will be heading back into the recording studio in Nashville Tennessee to finish my new record titled Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations. I’ve been recording extra guitar parts for the album from my home in Ohio and the record is really cooking along now. We still are about $1000 short on funds so if you want to pre-order the record, thus helping to fund the production, you can do so at

On October 24th I’ll be leading worship and teaching some worship related seminars with Jonathan Burkey at Lima Community Church of the Nazarene in Lima Ohio. You can get more information about this great event at


Positively Hope is a new CD available exclusively from Lifeway Stores. I’m honored to have writen two of the songs on this great worship record.
— Rick Lee James


Rick Lee James Author Page

On September 14th I will be leading a songwriting seminar on the campus of Cedarville University for students in the worship arts course of study. I’m really excited about the chance to join these great students once a month to help them grow in their craft for the service of the church
October 11-13th I have been invited to the campus of Olivet Nazarene University, just outside of Chicago Illinois, to participate in a conversation about worship for the center of faith and culture with other leaders for the Church of the Nazarene. This time together will allow a sustained dialogue concerning worship from a Wesleyan/Nazarene theological perspective, exploring the faithful exercize of worship leadership. Our hope it to move toward a sharedunderstanding and language concerning worship in the Church of the Nazarene

Two Great Guests On The Voices In My Head Podcast This Week: David Morrell and Matt Litton

I get two record two episodes of The Voices In My Head Podcast this week.

On Monday I chat with David Morrell and on Thursday I welcome Matt Litton back to the show.

About David Morrell:
David Morrell is the critically author of First Blood, the novel in which Rambo was created. He holds a Ph. D. in American literature from Penn State and was a professor in the English department at the University of Iowa. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic spy novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose (the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl). An Edgar and Anthony finalist, a Nero and Macavity winner, Morrell is a recipient of three Bram Stoker awards from the Horror Writers Association and the prestigious Thriller Master award from the International Thriller Writers organization. His writing book, The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing, discusses what he has learned in his more than four decades as an author. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

About Matt Litton:
Matt Litton is an author, editorialist, ghostwriter and editor. A former “award-winning” educator, he has written about faith, culture, books and sports for numerous publications including: The Dallas Morning News, The Huffington Post, Religion Blog, Christianity Today, Catalyst Leader, Busted Halo and Matt assists authors with content development, ghostwriting and editing for books, blogs, and magazine articles. He also helps organizations create engaging teaching or coaching materials.

Matt has a passion for writing stories. He enjoys helping authors, organizations and ministries craft narratives that effectively communicate the message of their own lives and missions in more potent and lasting ways. He fundamentally believes that powerful stories can change lives and affect positive and enduring change in our world.

Matt is author of several of his own books including: Dream Again by Isaiah Austin (with Matt Litton), The Mockingbird Parables: Transforming Lives Through the Power of Story, and Holy Nomad: The Rugged Road to Joy.

Does Worship Have an Audience?

For too long in our worship services we have seen the congregation as the audience. In recent years a new emphasis has directed us away from that kind of thinking by helping us to see God as the audience and the congregation as performers for Him. While this metaphor has changed the course of the conversation and helped us to use new language, like referring to the stage as a platform, I don’t think the metaphor has been carried far enough.

The more I reflect on worship in the house of God, the more I want to completely abandon that idea that there is an audience at all. When it comes to worship, maybe there is no audience. Audiences tend to be spectators but they don’t usually contribute to the what is happening in the show they are watching. If it’s a movie, the audience pays their money then they sit back and let the performers on screen do the work. At church we often plunk down our tithe and let the people on the platform do the work.

While I believe the metaphor of seeing God as the audience and His people as the performers is better for helping congregational members to engage more in worship, I still think we can do better. A passive spectator is the furthest thing from what Christianity means when it uses the word God.  God is not a passive spectator and neither should His people be, after all, liturgy is the work of the people.

The Christian faith has always affirmed a Creator God who is active in His creation, all of His creation.  God is not an academic pursuit for us, God is our source of life who draws near to us, reveals Himself to us, intervenes in our lives, changes us, disrupts our days, dies for us, resurrects for us, and just won’t leave us alone even if we want Him to. You can run from yourself but you can’t run from God.

In worship we remember together, we retell the story, we share a meal, and we commune with God. He isn’t an outsider to our worship, He is the host who is drawing us in, welcoming us, and has the table prepared for His family to dine together. Even outsiders, non-believers, are active participants in worship because we believe God is present to them as well, calling them and drawing them to Himself, weaving them into His story, usually against their will and often against their long held beliefs.
Even so, God is a relentless pursuer who loves us too much to leave us alone. Worship is not meant to be  judged by what type of an emotional experience we had anymore than a family dinner gathering should be judged by the emotional experience it evokes. We gather together because we are family and God is having us over to His house for a meal.
Family gatherings can be rough. We don’t always see eye to eye. Sometimes we are an embarrassment to our family and they are an embarrassment to us but often they are the only strength we have and are a great source of life. Say what you want about family, good, bad, or ugly, they will always be your family. The Father is calling us to the table and I think this may be a more helpful way for us to see Him in our worship than to see Him as a grand spectator.
Worship is not a show as much as it is a family gathering. Come to worship this Sunday and participate in the story of God, with God, and with the congregation. Come worship this active God who is even more present than we are as we gather together. He is the Father, the host, and we are His children called into His home to dine.

Voices In My Head Podcast Episode #132 – Renovating Holiness with Joshua Broward


This week’s guest, Joshua Broward is the co-editor (with Thomas J. Oord) and compiler of a new book called Renovating Holiness which releases January 17th and can be pre-ordered at

Younger leaders around the world are approaching holiness with new eyes, new vision, and a burning passion to help the Church engage the mission of our holy God.  Renovating Holiness brings together the stories of 100 plus leaders from more than 30 nations to point towards the continuing movement of God’s Spirit in a new world, offering their thoughts on how the Church of the Nazarene can rethink it’s history, it’s doctrine, and it’s practices to be more effective in the 21st century. Rick Lee James is one of the contributors to this book and proudly welcomes Joshua to his Podcast for a discussion on holiness renovated.

Listen Now:


imageFYI: We’re running some crazy cheap sales on my Books, DVDs, and CDs.

Hardcovers – $14.95 Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey through the Psalms
Paperbacks – $10.99
DVD’s – $5.99 Basement Psalms Live by Rick Lee James
CD’s $3.99

Jesus, Lord or Lackey?

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

—–Jesus, Lord or Lackey—–

Any Religion that needs to be affirmed or endorsed by a particular worldly empire or nation in order to thrive is likely a weak religion, with an impotent God, using the government as a crutch. The Kingdom of God is it’s own nationality with its own King, Jesus. It’s citizens need no government endorsement or mandate in order to thrive and be faithful. The need some Christians have to get the 10 Commandments placed on government property, to pledge allegiance to an earthly nation in a house of worship, or to mandate that prayer be led in public schools may actually stem from not believing that Jesus truly is Lord. Mandates like these render the incarnation as a fable and Jesus as a puppet ruler who needs a greater power to help Him achieve His goals. If Jesus truly is Lord then He needs no such permissions or endorsements from the world’s rulers to reign. He is either Lord or He isn’t. He is either Lord of all, right now, or He is not and never will be Lord. Mostly I think we tend to live like He isn’t because so often it seems we would rather force unbelievers to follow the rules than allow the living Jesus to transform human hearts and write new laws upon them. Those who don’t know how to love will mandate that it be given. Those who know how to love simply give it away and let it do its work. It’s like Paul is saying in the Galatians passage above, “welcome to the family” instead of “here’s a list of rules”. Those who don’t believe Jesus can change hearts will mandate that hearts be changed. Those who do believe in the lordship of Jesus will simply follow Him and let love do it’s work. Jesus is either lackey or Lord, but He is not both.

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing, glory to the newborn King.” –Charles Wesley