Tag Archives: Jesus

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

Hearing > Healing

I would say that at least 90% of the prayer requests I hear from church people have to do with sickness and health. The really interesting thing about that is Jesus very rarely healed people. When Jesus did heal people it was a sign of something else, an illustration to a point that he was trying to make. Healings were living parables pointing to God, not the ancient equivalent of the latest wonder drug.

No, Jesus never promised us health. In fact he promised us just the opposite of health. What Jesus offered to his disciples was a cross, a Roman instrument of torture and death. If Jesus had our health as his primary goal then I’m sure he would’ve done a lot more healing, but as it has always been, there’s 100% chance of death for each one of us.

The Gospels never call the miracles of Jesus miracles, they call them signs. To what signs do you think Jesus was pointing us? He certainly wasn’t pointing us to the miracles themselves, as Jesus wanted disciples, not spectators at a magic show. With that being said, if our health was not Jesus main priority, then why does that seem to be all we ever pray about? What do you think Jesus would have us pray about? What are the signs to which his miracles are pointing? The answer is not far from you so think about it, better yet, pray about it.

Blessings,
Rick Lee James

 

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About Rick:

Rick Lee James is a professional singer and songwriter, a speaker, author worship leader and Podcast host who has worked with the likes of Jason Gray, Andrew Peterson, Sara Groves, Michael Card, Brian Zahnd, Tripp York, Brett Mccracken, Ian Morgan Cron, Paul Baloche and many more. In 2013 Rick released his first Live album of original songs called, Basement Psalms Live. In 2014 Rick published critically applauded a companion book to Basement Psalms Live called, Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms. Rick has also been a contributing writer for Worship Leader Magazine, an adjunct teacher at Trevecca Nazarene University and has had a number of songs published by Lifeway Worship, including, I Lift Up My Eyes and Advent Hymn. For more information about Rick’s ministry visit his web site at http://www.RickLeeJames.com

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

The 4th of July and The Christian

Contrary to what many people seem to think, July 4th is not a Christian holy day (holiday). Moses didn’t come down the mountain holding the Constitution in one hand and the Declaration of Independence in the other. The only Christian nation that has ever existed or will ever exist is the kingdom of God, whose reign has no end.

The earliest statement of Christian belief, “Jesus is Lord”, is the pledge of allegiance for the citizens of God’s Kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount is the Constitution for the people of God. It’s impossible to live it out alone but that’s the point. It takes Jesus and a group of disciples sharing life together to see His Kingdom take shape in this world.

Presidents and politicians like to tell us that The United States of America is last great hope of the world, and Christians chuckle at such an absurd statement. The United States of America is not not even close to being the last great hope of the world. The last great hope of the world is the first great hope of the world, and in fact the only hope for the world, Jesus Christ.

With all that being said, I like living in America. There are a lot of beautiful places here, with a lot of great people who have achieved some amazing things. I truly hope you will enjoy your 4th of July celebrations with your family and friends, but remember where the Christian’s true allegiance lies and Who the true hope of the world is. It is the hope that will outlast The United States and every other nation on earth. Be grateful for the place you live, be proud of the good things it has done, hold it accountable for the evil it embraces, and be grateful for the place you live while remembering that it is not your home.

Declare and celebrate your dependence upon God this 4th of July and remember that any other freedom than the freedom He offers is counterfeit at best. Freedom is the power to do the right thing, not to do anything you want to. Freedom is holiness lived out, serving others, and denying self. Love The Lord your God and worship Him only. Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord your God

Revelation 11:15
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Podcast #115: Karissa Knox Sorrell and the Journey to Orthodoxy

Podcast 115

Karissa Knox Sorrell is a wife, mother, writer, and educator. She love books, coffee, early mornings, good friends, and the ocean. She grew up as a preacher’s kid and missionary kid in the Church of the Nazarene and lived in Bangkok, Thailand from the ages of 11-18. Now she makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and two children. In her twenties, she and her husband began to learn about liturgy, which led them to the Eastern Orthodox Church. They’ve been there for the past nine years. She has a passion for immigrants and people from other cultures and was an ESL teacher for eleven years. Karissa has also been pursuing creative writing for the past several years and is almost finished writing her first book, Transfigured Faith, a spiritual memoir about growing up in the home of Protestant ministers and later discovering Orthodoxy. Hear more about her writing, her family, and her faith journey on this week’s episode of Voices In My Head, the official podcast of Rick Lee James.

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Voices In My Head (the Official Rick lee James Podcast) is dedicated to covering books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesFacebook, and Rick Lee James.comRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice messagecomment forVoices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music Bandcamp.com,  iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent toRLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.
Music used on Today’s Episode:

If You Hear His Voice Today – Rick Lee James

Rick Lee James Interviewed By Worship Links

This week I was interviewed by WorshipLinks.us for their web site. Worship Links isa hand-picked collection of the best worship resources on the web so needless to say I was honored that they wanted to talk with me. I encourage you not only to read the interview I was featured in, but especially if you are a music pastor, check out all of their great resources. It’s a truly awesome place on the web.

 

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

 

Read the full interview on WorshipLinks.us

Click the picture to read the full interview on WorshipLinks.us

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Lord, Teach Us To Pray…or…Yes, There Is A Wrong Way To Pray

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Lord, Teach Us To Pray

By Rick Lee James

One of the great myths of our time is that there is no wrong way to pray. The myth is that we can just start talking about any random thing to God and that counts as prayer. Jesus taught His followers to have the faith of a child. We teach children to pray by helping them to memorize prayers. We say simple prayers like, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” As a child my parents began teaching my sister and I the Lord’s Prayer every night before bed. In time our prayers became a part of us. We came to pray simple childlike prayers as though they were a breath. “Thank you Jesus for this food, help us to be kind and good. Amen” I would contend that this is a good first step in how we learn to pray.

 

Authentic prayer will properly form us as people and as children of God. The way a person prays will tell us much about thier faith, who they believe God is, and who they believe they are.

 

Prayer is not a self-help activity. I would contend that even in our individual, private prayer times, we never truly pray alone. Self-help is not an answer to the things human beings face because the fact is that we cannot help ourselves. We become properly formed with the help of others, and an Other specifically, who shape us, forms us, and re-form us. Sometimes this re-formation is painful but it always merciful and full of grace.

 

Prayer books are wonderful ways to learn how to pray and they help us to be properly formed by putting right words into our mouths. They are aids in helping us listen to the Holy Spirit rather than the Spirit of the age. The Book of Psalms is the most ancient prayer book of the people of God possess, unique in that it shows how we are to respond to God, not just how He comes to us. There are many other prayers in scripture and there are many extra-cannonical prayer books as well. The book of Common Prayer, a favorite of John Wesley, has been used by the church for centuries to teach disciples how to pray. When Jesus’ disciples asked how to pray, they expected to be taught a prayer, and in fact they were given a prayer to pray. Jesus never said, just start talking and God will do the rest. No, Jesus taught us how to pray by teaching us prayers.

 

My encouragement to us today it to be properly formed in prayer. Study prayers in the Bible and in other Orthodox prayer books. Memorize them, recite them, read them aloud to each other until they become your prayers. Today I leave you with two of my favorite prayers from the book of Common prayer, one of John Wesley’s beloved prayer books. May The Lord bless us as we are properly formed together in prayer. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

 

From The Book of Common Prayer:

 

Prayer For the Unity of the Church

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior,
the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the
great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away
all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us
from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body
and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all
of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth
and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and
one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Prayer For Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in
heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through
art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on
earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty,
and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for
evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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