A Gift-Worthy Donation

I’m so blessed, with a few days left to give before Thanksgiving (my self-imposed deadline) we have only $300 left to raise to meet the gofundme goal.

The album doesn’t release until March 17th, but it goes to press next week. This means that donors at certain levels should have their copy of the record by Christmas. This means that you can pre-order the digital album for yourself and give the physical copy away as a gift depending on your reward level.

The goal is within reach, $300 in 3 days. Donate today at www.gofundme.com/hymns

See Reward Levels Below:

Pledge $5 or more (Thank You)

My heartfelt thanks for your support of my new album. No amount is too small and every dollar will help tremendously!

Pledge $15 or more (The Triple Digi)

We’ll email you 3 songs from the new album as a digital download before it’s available in stores.

Pledge $25 or more (The Art Collector)

We’ll email the entire new album to you as a digital download before it’s available in stores. We’ll also send you the album artwork in digital format as well.

Pledge $50 or more (Get Physical)

We’ll send you a CD of the new album signed by Rick before it’s available in stores.

Pledge $75 or more (The Bookworm)

We’ll send you a CD of the new album signed by Rick before it’s available in stores PLUS a digital copy of Rick’s book, Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms.


more at http://www.gofundme.com/hymns




Voices In My Head Podcast Episode #153: Worship Band Workshop (Live from The Empower The Church Conference)

Voices In My Head Podcast Episode #153: Worship Band Workshop (Live from The Empower The Church Conference)

This week’s episode of Voices In My Head was recorded live at the Empower the Church conference at Lima Community Church of the Nazarene in Lima Ohio on Saturday October 24th

This episode is a training workshop for people who play in bands and covers the following:

* improving your timing
* thinking like an arranger
* band dynamics and tempo
* guitar vs. piano driven songs
* creating an atmosphere of worship
* Styles and different ways of playing

POdcast Logo 2015 with web siteimage

The Spirituality of Dishes

This might sound strange, but I had a very clear God moment while washing the dishes recently.

We had just eaten a delicious supper, pizza in fact, I mean what is better than that? We ate it on the back deck outside in nearly perfect weather conditions.

As I took the dishes inside and started drawing the water to wash them after the meal, my iPhone stopped playing the podcast I was listening to. Rather than hit play again I just decided to wash the dishes in silence.

I listened prayerfully as I washed. I thought about how hard some of the cheese was to clean off certain dishes. Minutes before these dishes held cheesy, gooey, saucy pizza that just slopped all over; a beautiful thing.

Now it was dried, caked on, and needed to be washed off, scrubbed off even.

It struck me how like those dishes we are. Dishes are simply a delivery system for the food we eat. If food is what sustains us in life, then dishes are serving the gift of life to us. If we are people who believe in a loving God, and I do, then our daily task, like a plate, is to carry the feast of God’s love to others. We are not God, and we can’t give life ourselves, we simply are used to carry the feast to hungry people so that they may be nourished.

Even though our dirty dishes were not engaged in an evil activity by feeding us, they still got dirty. It’s not like I slopped mud on the plates, I served delicious pizza on them, and it was great. Even so, even after their noble service of feeding the hungry, our plates were in need of cleansing.

We don’t have to be doing evil things to need cleansing. Even in doing good each day, we will see at the end of the day that we have a real need to be cleansed again. I don’t know why we can’t stay clean, we just can’t. Most of us need a shower every day or we will stink. It’s not because we’ve done something evil to get dirty, it’s just who we are. We need daily, regular cleansing.

I was washing good dishes. They are nothing fancy, but we keep them clean every day and they get the job done. After each use we wash them and they are made ready to serve the feast again.

Everybody and everything gets dirty; preachers, worship leaders, ushers, board members, and congregants who are faithful to worship every week. No matter how clean we think we are, like dishes, we need the cleansing of Christ in our lives.

Next time you do the dishes, be reminded that if these dishes, which are not evil, need cleansing after every use, then how much more do we daily need to surrender ourselves to God for the cleansing? We daily have need return to our God given humanity, which only He can bring us. He creates us, recreates us, cleanses us, and says of us, “it is good”.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.”

St. Patrick’s Day and Psalm 42

The Following is From The Book,

Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through the Psalms

Since I close chapter three of the book by talking about St. Patrick I wanted to share the entire chapter as a celebration of his life and legacy. I hope you enjoy it. The book can be purchased from Amazon.com at this link.


Simply click on the picture below to read Chapter 3 – St. Patrick and Psalm 42

imageOut of the Depths Chapter 3

Cursing God and Finding Faith…My Story

The following is excerpted from my book, “Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Throught The Psalms“. If Lent is a time of sharing, praying, and fasting then I guess this is my way of sharing. It’s a story of a lost follower of Jesus, it’s my story. I hope it’s a help on your Lenten Journey toward the cross.

It was the darkest time of my life so far, and I hope ever. It was my own dark night of the
soul. The brilliant theologian Frederick Buechner once wrote “Doubts are the
ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” With that thought in
mind then I guess you could say that at this point of crisis in my life I had ants
in my pants.

In my experience, God honors our doubts about Him. The mystery is that
somehow God’s presence becomes clearer in His absence. If in our moments
of darkness, we will acknowledge that we are indeed in a time of doubt, God will honor that. Our doubts, failures, and hurts are to be embraced, for
ultimately they drive us to our Lord.

I’m about to describe to you a time in my life when I felt like God was an
absentee father. I felt like a child desperately trying to find Him, but He
seemed conspicuously nowhere to be found. It’s important for us to be honest
with ourselves in these times. It was during this dark period of my life that I
completely renounced my Christian faith. Granted, it was only for a couple of
days and I never made it known to anyone but God, but it happened, and here’s

My marriage had fallen apart and no matter how hard I prayed I couldn’t
piece it back together. I was broken through and through. I was angry at my
wife, I was angry at the world, and I was angry at myself. The only one whom I
felt safe directing my anger at was God since He was the only one with
shoulders big enough to take the beating I needed to give.

At one point I stood alone in the sanctuary of my church pointing at the
cross angrily shouting something like this at God:
“I gave you everything, I did everything like I was supposed to, and
still she’s gone. I didn’t want to be a pastor. I hate being a pastor, and I would never have done it if You hadn’t called me. I did everything they said
to do. I prayed, read my Bible, waited until I was married to have sex,
married a Christian and none of that mattered. Following You has ruined my
marriage and my life. All these stupid rules that You and your church inflict
on us are crazy. That’s why she left you know, couldn’t stand life in the gold
fish bowl. You’ve ruined everything in my life, God. If you were here right
now I would crucify you myself. I did everything like you wanted and what
did you do? NOTHING! I don’t believe in You, and I will not follow You, and
I am not Yours anymore. I don’t care if I go to Hell, I’m done with You”.
I went back and sat in my office at church after praying that prayer.

It’s weird to call it prayer but it was indeed prayer. It was a strange mixture of
agonized sweat, tears, and numb ambivalence. Imagine my secret conundrum: I
was a pastor and I didn’t want to follow God anymore. When my wife left, it
broke me all the way down. There was such a feeling of uncertainty and mental
conflict in my life. I guess that’s what a crisis of faith is, an uncertainty about
things that are supposed to be certain.

The odd thing was that a couple of days later I again found myself alone
in that same sanctuary, crawling on my hands and knees toward the altar. I told
God how sorry I was, how wrong I knew I was to say all those things to Him. I
still didn’t like where I was, but I was glad to do it if He had called me there. I told Him that I knew He didn’t cause my life to crumble or my marriage to fail.
I just cried and sat with Him in the silence for a while.

I know it wasn’t a physical presence, but while I knelt there praying, I
felt in my spirit like God was holding me tightly to his chest whispering in my
ear, “It’s okay. No one else could have taken the beating you gave me. It didn’t
hurt. I know you love me. I love You.” Ironically, in those few days when I
“renounced” my faith, I experienced His closeness in the most real and
profound way I ever had. What I really needed was to be honest with a God
big enough to absorb my frustration, hurt, anger, and my sin.

During that time of life, I was at an in-between place of uncertainty. I
didn’t know how the story was going to end. That seems to be the place the
Psalmist finds himself in too. Psalm 89 is a community lament written for a
time when, in spite of the promise God had made, the future of the Davidic
dynasty was in doubt. The Psalmist was the representative of the community,
voicing its urgent prayer for help.

James L. Mays, in the Interpretation
Commentary makes the following helpful observation about this Psalm:
“The future of the community was at stake in the fate of its king. In a way,
the psalm locates the people of God where the books of Kings leave them–
with their king and their future in the power of their enemies. In the
arrangement of the Book of Psalms, this lament is placed at the conclusion of book III…It stands as the counterpart to Psalm 2 with its divine decree that the
anointed is God’s answer to the hostile turmoil of the nations, and it voices the
anguish and disparity between the reign of God and the destiny of the

I believe Psalm 89 is one of those in-between places similar to the one I
personally described above. It’s not very satisfying to end on a note of
unresolved tension, but that’s how real life goes. It works the same with
unresolved music actually. There’s nothing that will unnerve a crowd more at a
concert that to leave the final chord of a song unresolved. I’ve had audience
members that wanted to come up on stage and strum the tonic key for me just
because they can’t handle the unresolved music. How much worse is an
unresolved life?

Praying, Cursing, And Heading For Lent

Sometimes I really wish people wouldn’t read their Bibles. That sounds blasphemous I know, but it’s true. The Bible contains all that is essential for life and salvation, it tells us repeatedly that God is love, it gives us the narrative of our faith story, and yet there is no other book I can think of that causes more damage than the Bible. For instance, what are we to do with passages like these from the book of Psalms?

15 Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them. (Psalm 55:15)

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; (Psalm 58:6)

28 May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. (Psalm 69:28)

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. (Psalm 109:9)

Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (Psalm 137:9)

The Psalms have a unique place in the Bible in that they are prayers and songs prayed to God. Where other parts of the Bible are filled with messages from God to us, the Psalms are our prayers and songs of praise to Him. The Psalms were not only the hymnbook of ancient Israel, they were the main prayer book and songbook of Jesus and his disciples, the early church, and most of Christendom until fairly recently in church history. The Psalms have been teaching believers how to pray and praise God for literally thousands of years.

About a year ago I released a book called, Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through the Psalms. In it I told readers that I just wasn’t sure what to do with certain scriptures like the imprecatory (cursing) Psalms, quoted above. I’ve gone as far as wondering if there are some parts of the Bible that Jesus would forbid us to pray. We would never see Jesus joyfully dashing infants on rocks and I don’t believe for a second that he would ever condone such unspeakable acts. Yet, here in the prayer book that we know Jesus used, we have unconscionable prayers like these.

How can the Christ who told his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them have anything to do with cursing prayers like the imprecatory Psalms? Does Jesus really want us to pray for the damnation of others, to pray that innocent women and children be widowed and orphaned, wandering desperately in the street with no help to be found? How does God answer our prayers of cursing upon others? I believe He answers them with the cross.

All the hateful things that we prayed about our enemies, Jesus took upon himself on the cross. When mankind prayed for God to humiliate, starve, and destroy the enemy, God answered those prayers by coming to earth as Jesus to be humiliated, starved, and destroyed in their place. When our weapons were aimed at our enemies, Jesus turned our weapons and aimed them at himself. Jesus died from the shots we fired. Jesus was killed in answer to our prayers against others. Jesus didn’t only die for our sins, Jesus died for the sins of the enemy.

Jesus on the cross is God’s response to the cursing prayers we pray. All the wrath that mankind could muster was aimed at Jesus on the cross. Jesus did not bear the wrath of God on Calvary, Jesus was God on the cross bearing the wrath of man. Jesus died at the hands of devout, Bible believing, religious people. When Jesus taught us to love our enemies, he also showed us how to do it. To love an enemy, you might have to step in front of a bullet for them. When we rage against others, Jesus steps in to bear that rage because no one else has shoulders big enough to bear it.

All that being said, the imprecatory Psalms ,and many unsavory passages like them, are still in our Bible and they aren’t going anywhere. What should we do with these passages as followers of Jesus?

When traumatic events happen in our lives, we often suffer from what is diagnosed at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Veteran’s Affairs requires soldiers who are victims of PTSD to write a stressor statement describing the stressful experience they had that led them to developing the disorder. This statement consists of three parts:

  1. Life before military service
  2. Life during military service (including traumatic event(s)
  3. Life after traumatic event(s)

Often, after traumatic life events, victims are filled with rage. They have trouble being around people and their temper gets the best of them. Victims often have trouble sustaining employment due to their condition, many times costing them their marriages, their homes and even their sanity. It is important that PTSD victims find a healthy outlet for their afflictions and that often comes in the form of therapeutic letter writing, chronicling their anger, grief, and need.

I believe that the imprecatory Psalms serve a similar function for us in our liturgy. Praying curses down on our enemies may not seem like a holy endeavor until we realize that we are praying them in all honesty to a God big enough to bear them upon Himself. When we pray for our enemies to be cursed it is an honest expression of what we feel, but God’s answer to us in Jesus will always be, “no”.

When God answers prayers of cursing, He does so by bearing the curse upon Himself.

Even so, we should still find the freedom to be completely honest with God in our prayers. Our God prefers an honest curse to a dishonest blessing. May God help us to see that Jesus is to answer to our prayers, even our prayers of cursing. He not only tells us how to love our enemies, He shows us. When we pray for our enemies to suffer and die, Jesus suffers and dies for them.

As we enter into this Lenten season, may God grant us courage to walk the road to the cross with Him, helping us learn what it means to truly be Christian. We will encounter scripture that makes us uneasy along the way so may Jesus be the living Word for us, showing us where we’ve gotten it wrong. When the crowd cries crucify, may God help us have the honesty to hear our own voices in the crowd.

A Prayer for Lent O gracious Master, infuse in our hearts the spotless light of Your Divine Wisdom and open the eyes of our mind that we may understand the teachings of Your Gospel. Instill in us also the fear of Your blessed commandments, so that having curbed all carnal desires, we may lead a spiritual life, both thinking and doing everything to please You. For You, O Christ, our God, are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies; and to You we render glory, together with Your eternal Father, and with Your all holy, life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Out of the depths Postcard

Rick Lee James Partnering With Lifeway Worship To Make New Record


Dear Friends,

I have some incredible news to share with you about the record I’ll be recording this December in Nashville. I’ve only shared this news with investors and some family up to this point, but am now ready to share it with the rest of you.

A few weeks ago, I initiated a partnership with LifeWay Worship that will get me a long way down the road toward the accomplishment of a new album. Because of LifeWay Worship’s involvement, I will be able to record this album at one of the best studios in Nashville with A-list players and engineers. The investment of LifeWay Worship, alongside funds donated via  GoFundMe.com and my own personal investment, is making the dream become reality!

Here’s What This Means:

  • Funding to record and mix the album has been secured in full.
  • All songs recorded will be featured on my solo album and will be be repurposed by LifeWay Worship to introduce songs and arrangements at lifewayworship.com (charts, tracks, lyric files will be offered there).
  • All songs included on the project will be pitched to a variety of publishers, labels, and artists for placement in choral print and/or on any number of 3rd party album releases.

All this is to say, through God’s provision and generosity expressed through LifeWay Worship and an amazing team of partners at www.gofundme.com/hymns, we’re going to make an amazing record which has the potential be used as a music resource for churches internationally. I can hardly believe that God has blessed me with this opportunity 7 years after I accepted His invitation to make music for the church on a broader scale. 7 is the number in scripture that represents God so I see this as a tangible sign of His guiding hand. 

These songs were birthed out of my local congregation’s times of worship at First Church of the Nazarene in Springfield Ohio. I am so blessed that we will be able to share our musical expressions of worship on a larger scale using ancient and modern hymns. I can’t thank my producer, Craig Adams, enough for investing so much of himself into this project. He and I share a common calling to equip churches for worship. Authentic worship is what we pray will be experienced by congregations worldwide as they sing these songs.

Additional funding is still needed in order to accomplish album design, photography, printing costs, manufacturing, and miscellaneous expenses. Any additional funds collected at GoFundMe.com/hymns will help us achieve completion of the entire project. Thank you to all of you who have already given to this project and to those of you who still plan on partnering with us. I give all praise to our Glorious God and I pray He will use these songs of worship to glorify Himself and to further His Kingdom here on earth.  Bless the Lord at all times!

In His Glad Service,
Rick Lee James