Flashback Friday – Billy Joel Taught Me How To Pray

I just got a new app that scans documents and thought since it’s Friday I will use this as a flashback Friday feature. Here is my article which appeared in Worship Leader magazine in the July/August 2012 issue. I present to you the newly scanned article, “Billy Joel Taught Me How To Pray”.

 

 

 

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Rick Lee James Partnering With Lifeway Worship To Make New Record

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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

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

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

Podcast #108: Guest – Amy Savin

Podcast 108

 

LISTEN HERE:

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Amy Savin is a talented Christian musician who brings back to Christian music a depth of lyric and intricate artistry slightly lost in recent years. The songs are a beautiful hybrid of haunting and striking melodies set to lyrics that are made for fun listening and personal growth. Amy’s voice and songwriting harkens back to the stylings of Nicole Nordeman with the addition of an understated falsetto range not attempted since the quiet ballads of Rachael Lampa. Amy’s music is pleasantly unique thanks to her break-out vocal updrafts that pierce through tracks like “Hide Me”, “Fly Robin”, “Skylines”, and the Ed Cash smash “Hymn 177”. I have a great conversation with Amy and share a few of her songs on this week’s episode of the Voices In My Head Podcast.

Amy Savin’s Web Site: www.AmySavin.com

 

 

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“Freely you received, freely give.” — Matthew 10:8

Get a free Easter album with Sheet music from Rick Lee James on Noisetrade

Easter Worship Exp 2014Easter Worship Experience 2014 with Rick Lee James on Noisetrade.com

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Holy Week Reflections

Holy Week Monday Reflection

More Faithful Than Spiritual

You know how people are always saying that they are “spiritual” but not religious? They mean Spiritual but not faithful, right? I mean Jesus always talked in very concrete terms about faith and he put that faith into action. I don’t believe he ever spoke in “spiritual” terms in any of the gospels. He did however worship in Spirit and in truth, but that’s an altogether different thing than our individualistic emphasis on spirituality. As we reflect this holy week on the path that led Jesus to the cross we should be reminded that Jesus wasn’t crucified for being overly “spiritual”. He was crucified because he posed a threat to the Empire, by revealing who God truly is. He faithfully called people to to devote themselves to the true ruler of the world. Overly “spiritual” people don’t cause much of a stir in this world. “Spiritual” is what Caesar wants us to be so we won’t cause problems. The Empire never likes it when things get stirred up and people start changing their allegiances. “Spiritual” people don’t usually speak truth to power. “Spiritual” people don’t confront Caesar and remind him who the real Lord is. Being “spiritual isn’t much good without being faithful. It takes a faithful person to be involved in the scandalous activities of Christ. “Spiritual” may be what the culture calls us to be,but the call of Christ is to be faithful.

Blessings,
Rick Lee James

 

Holy Week Tuesday Reflection

John 13:31-38

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

Reflection

Peter had a problem that I think we can all relate to. He thought himself to be something that in the end he just wasn’t. Eventually, yes, he did lay down his life for Jesus, but at this moment he still had some illusions about who he was.

Can’t we all understand that? We post the best of ourselves to our Facebook walls while in our hearts we know we aren’t that clean and pristine. We want to project an image of ourselves that isn’t the whole picture. We may want to lay down our lives for Jesus, but when that rooster crows, how many times have we found ourselves denying him?

Jesus loved the real Peter . He didn’t love macho, fearless, action hero Peter because that Peter was an illusion. God doesn’t recogize our illusions. It is in our weaknesses that Christ’s power is made perfect in us, and yet we still try to be who we want to be rather than who we really are.

Jason Gray is one of the most thoughtful songwriters of our time. As I read this passage from the gospel this morning his lyrics came to mind. I’ll leave them with you to ponder. On this Holy Week will you have the courage to acknowledge the truth about who you really are so that God can create something more in you, something true that He can use?

“So take a good look in the mirror, can you tell me who you see,
The one who Jesus died for or the one you’d rather be?
Can you find it in your heart to show mercy to the one
The Father loved so much that he gave his only son?”

-Jason Gray “The Golden Boy and the Prodigal”

Consciousness Reflection

How am you really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted? You may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, you may be frustrated, worried or angry.

Prayer:
Lord, I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that You love.

 

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

Holy Wednesday Reflection

Holy Wednesday reminds us that no one is outside of the love of God. There wasn’t a lot of difference between Peter and Judas in their betrayal of Jesus. One faced his guilt with suicide and the other with repentance. Neither of them were outside of the love of Christ. Both were welcomed to the same table, both were offered the bread and wine, and both were loved in spite of who they were, right until the end.

On any given day I can be just as wrong as Peter and Judas in their betrayal of Jesus. Thank God for the hope we have in Christ that leads us back to his heart when we are overwhelmed by guilt. How wonderful that there is mercy for all who will receive it and that we don’t have to end up like Judas, ending our own lives in hopeless despair.

Over the last couple of years since I met Michael Card has been a very kind to me and has embodied what it means to serve rather than to be served. He is a brilliant writer and as I’ve been reflecting on this idea of The Lord extending his love to all, one of his songs called “The Beginning” has come to mind. This song which captures the idea of Gods grace which leads to us restoration not despair. I leave you with his lyrics with you today.

In the beginning was the beginning
And in it all began
All that they had was God and the garden
The woman and the man

Before creation learned to groan
The stars would dance and sing
Each moment was new, every feeling was fresh
For the creature king and queen

But deep in the heart of that beautiful garden
Forbidden truth was found
That they were deceived, disobeyed and were driven
From that holy ground

But beside the tree of disobedience
The tree of life did grow
The gift of its fruit and eternal beginning
But they would never know

The beginning will make all things new
New life belongs to Him
He hands us each new moment saying

My child begin again
My child begin again
You’re free to start again

This very moment is filled with His power
That we might start anew
To break us away from the past and the future
He does what He must do

And so the Alpha brings to us
This moment to commence
To live in the freedom of total forgiveness
With reckless confidence, with reckless confidence

The beginning will make all things new
New life belongs to Him
He hands us each new moment saying

My child, begin again
My child, begin again
You’re free to start again

The beginning will make all things new
New life belongs to him
He hands us each new moment, saying

My child, begin again
My child, begin again
You’re free to start again

Songwriters
Michael Card

Published by
BIRDWING MUSIC;MOLE END MUSIC

 

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

Maundy Thursday Reflection

John 13: 3-15
And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Imagine that you are one of the disciples in this scene?

What is it like when Jesus, your master and teacher, washes your feet?

What are you thinking as you watch him pour water in a basin and wraps a towel around himself, assuming the position of a servant?

What does it mean that Jesus is washing the dirt, animal feces, and just
general filth from the road off of your feet?

Would you allow him to serve you?

Would you try to stop him from doing this most humble act?

What does it mean that the King of all the Universe doesn’t want to Lord over you, but loves you enough to make you clean, becoming a servant?

Now that he has served you in this way, he instructs you to do the same for others?

Are you willing to serve others in the way that Jesus has served you?

The new mandate (Maundy) Jesus gave to his followers was that they love each other in this way. Love everyone this way. Then he again led by example, and loved to the point of death on a cross, offering not vengance, but forgiveness.

How do you notice yourself reacting as you pray with the Word of God?

 

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

Good Friday Reflection

Yesterday I asked if you would allow Jesus to wash your feet. Here’s an even bigger question, Would you allow Jesus to die for you? The disciples didn’t want it. Judas hung himself when he realized what he had done. Peter lashed out with a sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the Jewish high priest who came to arrest Jesus. Christ commanded him to put away his sword and he healed Malchus’ ear. (Side Note to all believers, don’t be surprised if people won’t listen to your message about Jesus if you’ve cut off their ear. Violence and even biting words literally take away a person’s ability to listen.)

Pilate seems to have given Jesus every opportunity to get out of the crucifixion, believing he had the power to make a decision like that.

The religious leaders wanted someone else to do it so they would avoid ritual defilement. After all, it was Passover and they wouldn’t be able to partake of the meal if they had blood on their hands. (It’s curious that they saw no reason for plotting a death to keep them from the Passover meal, as if not actually doing the deed yourself exonerated you).

The truth is that no one took Jesus’ life from him, no one could stop him. He willingly laid down his life. Can you look at the Cross and allow Jesus die for you?

What does it mean that God would rather die himself than to take your life?

God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. We didn’t always know this, but we know it now. Everything we think about God is wrong if it isn’t like Jesus. It turns out that God wasn’t wrathful at all. He was literally dying to show us love, forgiveness, and grace. No it wasn’t God that was full of wrath, it was us.

This is God, hanging on a cross, suffering, experiencing the worst that man can do. Deicide, the murder of God is man at his worst. “Father, forgive them”, is God at His best.

Here is a beautiful cover of Sandi Patti’s VIA DOLOROSA performred by by friend Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens. Let it lead you in reflection today.

 

 

Holy Saturday

The Light of the world is gone.

Lamentations 3:26

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (ESV)

 

“What is happening today? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.”

— from St. Thomas Aquinas’ homily on Holy Saturday

 

Easter Sunday

He is risen, He is Risen Indeed!

I recorded Easter Worship Experience 2014 at First Church of the Nazarene in Springfield Ohio on April 12th, 2014. In the prayer room at my church with no one else present, I played guitar and sang all the songs in one take with no overdubs. I added Pad Loops in post-production but other than that it’s all live. These raw tracks were recorded in a private worship time, with the hope that they will be used to help others worship. These songs, birthed out of a local congregational setting, are intended to guide you to worship the Risen Christ wherever you are in the Easter season and beyond, whether you’re in a church service, in your car, or a private time of prayer. These are not songs of lament, they are songs of celebration telling the story of the Risen Lord. The final track is a song of invitation intended for communion in a congregational setting but it’s also an invitation to enter into God’s Kingdom of grace and peace. May God bless you as you listen and worship along with these songs of resurrection.

Blessings, Rick Lee James

Lead sheets for all songs available at www.RickLeeJames.com/FreeSheetMusic

Songs Included on this EP

1.) Christ The Lord Is Risen Today – Written By Charles Wesley

2.) Advent Hymn (Watching, Waiting, Longing) – Written by Rick Lee James & Ted Rastatter

3.) Christ Has Died, Christ Is Risen – Written by Rick Lee James

4.) Hallelujah, Christ Is Lord (St. Patrick’s Prayer) – Written by Rick Lee James & Eddie Kirkland

5.) The Invitation (Communion Song) – Written by Rick Lee James & Andrew Greer

 

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