Greetings To All,

I’m pleased to announce that “Voices In My Head” Podcast #4 is on the air.  This week features the brilliant Matthew Cole as we discuss Superman, Patriotism, and what place they should or shouldn’t have in the church. There are also a couple of new segments on the show like the “Practically Useless Guitar Lesson” and “To the People of the Future”.

Also, I’ve added a new page to this web site called “Rick’s Favorite CDBaby Artists”. CDBaby is an online distribution company that I have been a part of for several years.  There are some wonderful and unique artists there that are doing things no one else is.  I have posted links to some of my favorites and you can buy their music from the links on my page.  Please support Independent musicians.  They are usually just as good as the people you hear on the radio, just not as well-known.  I know they would appreciate your support and you will love their music.  They work hard to make good music for people to enjoy and rarely are compensated for it.

One last thing, If you are reading this then you are probably a friend who has been a support to me and my ministry.  I’m really trying to build a strong base of listeners through the free podcast that I’m offering  in various places on the web.  It would mean the world to me if some of you who have listened could “LIKE” the Facebook page, leave a review on iTunes, and most importantly tell some friends about it.

That’s about it for now.  I hope you all have a terrific week.

God Bless,

Rick Lee James

I’ve been nominated to be the ARTportunity Knocks 2012 ‘Opening Act’ who performs on the ARTportunity Knocks Kuwait Spiritual Resiliency Tour? Artportunity Knocks and Reverbnation are searching for artists to open up on a two week tour of Camp Buehring, Camp Virginia, and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait to present various forms of gospel & inspirational music to over 20,000 troops. All genres of music are accepted however the songs being performed must be either gospel or inspirational in subject matter. The concert program is being filmed and will feature traditional gospel, pop, rock, neo-soul, rhythm & praise and hip-hop music, comedy, and short tributes by speakers representing the military, veteran’s groups, and the organizing committee.

This will be a closed performance for the military troops and only one ReverbNation is guaranteed a slot. You can help me out by going to the ARTportunity Knocks Facebook page and then write a request for Rick Lee James to play at this event. I would really love to play at this event and feel like it would be a unique opportunity to minister to people in Kuwait. If you could help me out by praying and posting on their wall I would be very grateful.

Blessings,
Rick Lee James

 

Artportunity Knocks

This is a promotional video for my new Podcast, “Voices In My Head”. It would mean a lot to me if you guys could share it like crazy and invite folks to the Podcast page on Facebook.

Daniel Dye with the Miller Road Band

 

Voices In My Head Episode 3, with special guest Daniel Dye is now available on iTunes, Podbean, and the Voices In My Head Facebook Fan Page. Listen to win a free copy of Daniel Dye’s CD.

Well, Episodes 1 & 2 of the Voices In My Head Podcast are now playing online at Podbean.com, iTunes, Reverbnation.com, and on the Rick Lee James App.

Yesterday I recorded Episode 3 three of the Voices in my Head Podcast with my special guest Daniel Dye. It was a fun interview and he even performed a new song for the first time ever on the air. The show should be up on iTunes next Monday and on Podbean.com just a little before that. Make sure to listen to the interview so you can find out how to win a free CD by Daniel Dye & the Miller Road Band.

Matthew Cole with daughter Mabry

For Episode 4, Matthew Cole will be joining me for a discussion on Heroes, Patriotism, and their relation to the Gospel. You may want to buy a hard copy or download Issue 900 of Action Comics because we will be discussing a 9 page short story in that issue titled “The Incident” and would really love to hear your thoughts on Patriotism and if it has a place in the house of worshi.. In this story Superman renounces his American citizenship and boy did it cause a lot of controversy.

So a quick recap:

Episode 1 & 2 are now available.

Episode 3 with Daniel Dye will be available Monday.

Episode 4 with Matthew Cole will air the following Monday.

Don’t forget to submit iTunes reviews of the show, submit listener feedback on the Facebook page, and/or call the listener comment line at (937) 505-0162 and record a message to be played on the broadcast.

Voices In My Head is the Official Podcast of singer Rick Lee James

Podcast #2 is now available for download on iTunes and at Podbean

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Voices In My Head is the Official Podcast of singer Rick Lee James

I am so pleased to announce that “Voices In My Head” The Official Rick Lee James Podcast in on the air. “Voices In My Head” is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in my head, often with Theological spin. Listeners can actually hear themselves on the Podcast by calling the Voice Line and recording a comment at (937) 505-0162. You can also send comment and suggestions for the show via Email to RLJames29@yahoo.com

The first episode was a blast to record and I have lots of surprises for episode two next week. Make sure so leave a comment on iTunes and let me know what you think. Make sure to join the Voices on My Head Community on FACEBOOK.

Get Voices In My Head on iTunes
Get "Voices In My Head" on PodBean
Voices In My Head Facebook Page

The brilliant theologian Frederick Buechner once wrote “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” With that quote in mind then I guess you could say that I have ants in my faith filled pants. I don’t know where my recent crisis of faith came from but if I’m honest with myself then I have to say it’s there.

I’m not leaving my faith behind; I’m just in a moment of questioning. In my experience, God honors our doubts about Him and becomes clearer in our moments of darkness if we will just acknowledge that we are indeed in a time of doubt. They are nothing to be ashamed of. Today I have a cold and my back hurts but something just feels off so I guess I’ll write what’s on my mind. In spite of all I’ve been raised to believe, sometimes I feel like God is an absent father. I feel at times like a child desperately trying to find Him, while He seems to be conspicuously absent.

Maybe it’s just me but lately in communal worship gatherings it seems like we speak of God as if He isn’t there. I feel like I’m speaking if Him in that way right now as I type. Our communal prayer times feel like sermons with our eyes closed. Sometimes it feels like our prayers to God are actually prayers prayed to man, trying to convince others that God is near. If we really are addressing God in our prayer times, then we are trying to convert Him to Christianity or building Him up with bumper sticker slogans about faith.

Maybe subconsciously we think that God needs to be converted. After all, God the Father has been around far longer than the concept of a Messiah Christ who existed before all time. For most of the Old Testament there’s no concept of a devil in the way contemporary pop-Christianity envisions him. All things, both good and evil, come from God in the OT and that is very problematic for me. Since we have such an ancient faith, why are we so against interacting with people of other ancient faiths? For the most part, any effort in American churches to have a more than one-sided dialogue about other religions will get you silenced in a hurry. It will probably will make your faith suspect as well and get you a spot on the prayer request list as a lost person at the next meeting of the ladies Bible study.

Does anyone else see the insecurity in behaviors like this? Isn’t there a need to question things that we find ourselves insecure about? Why are we so scared of talking to people who aren’t Christians but who do share our common Abrahamic faith? Why can’t we have true and generous dialogue with people who practice the faiths of Bábism, Bahá’í, Islam, Judaism, Rastafari, Mandaeans, Sabians, Samaritanism, and Unitarian Universalism. There are many more religions in the world, but these are ones that share our Abrahamic descent.

Creating dialogue with people of other faiths doesn’t mean that we are going to join up and become card-carrying members of their religion. One major problem I see is that many evangelical Christians are only interested in having a dialogue with non-Christians if they can find some leverage to convert them. When did following Christ mean that we can only have relationships with others as long as we can convert them? Doesn’t this outlook dehumanize them? Doesn’t it make us see non-Christians as little more than targets to aim our message at? Shouldn’t we care about them as people first and foremost even if they never believe Jesus is Lord in the way we do?

I’m not saying that we can’t share our faith with them when the opportunity presents itself. Faith is an integral part of our lives as Christians and we should never try to disconnect that from who we are. I just believe that God the Holy Spirit is the one who does the convincing and the changing of a person’s heart and mind. Thomas Merton, one of my faith heroes, was led to Christ by a Hindu gentleman who pointed him away from Hinduism and toward a little book by Thomas à Kempis called “the Imitation of Christ.” Apparently our God isn’t threatened by people of other faiths, and in fact uses them to bring people to Himself.

Well, enough digression about inter-faith dialogue. I should get back to my original reason for writing this blog with is my current crisis of faith. I have these crises from time to time. Maybe this time it stems from the fact that I’ve made God is too small or that we in the church have made Him too small and I’m just having trouble finding Him. Is God really NOT in a box or He has tucked Himself inside of a box that we have imagined to be entirely too small. There I go talking about Him like He isn’t there again but even as I write my doubts about Him I get a sensation that He is here with me in the doubting.

I’ve had these moments of doubt before. About four and a half years ago I completely renounced my Christian faith for a couple of days. This made it very difficult to serve the church as a youth pastor and music minister, but let me give some context. My first marriage was crumbling 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 ex-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 was about to lash out.
At one point I stood alone in the sanctuary of my church pointing at the cross angrily shouting something like this at God. (Be warned the language is a little strong in places but it’s honest.)

“I gave you everything. 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. Following You has ruined my marriage and my life. All these stupid rules about how you can’t drink and you can’t cuss and you can’t go to movies and you can’t be human are crazy. You’ve ruined everything you Son of a Bitch. If you were here right now I would crucify you myself. I don’t believe in You and I will not follow You anymore. You get someone else to do this job”.

I went back and sat in my office after that prayer. It’s weird to call it prayer but it was indeed prayer. It was a strange mixture of agonized sweat and tears mixed with numb ambivalence. In those few days I only told one person what I had done. Imagine that, I was a pastor and I didn’t believe in or want to follow God anymore. 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 found myself alone in that sanctuary again crawling on my hands and knees toward the altar. I told God how sorry I was and that I knew I was wrong to say all those things to Him. I still didn’t like being a pastor 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 in my spirit it felt 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.

Fast forward to the present. Why the crisis of faith now? My heart has healed. As Andrew Peterson says, “The aching may remain but the breaking does not”. Life is very good. God brought a beautiful, funny, intelligent, and spiritual woman into my life who has become my wife. I have publishers interested in my music. I feel like my songwriting is getting better and more seasoned. I’m blessed beyond belief. Why now?

I’m not sure where this doubt is taking me but I know that I can rest on the places I stood in the past. I think God may be working something new in my life and in the life of those around me. I can’t even pretend to know what that is. I’ve been serving on staff at Springfield First Church of the Nazarene for 10 years now and I feel like there is a holy restlessness in me saying that more needs to be done, I just don’t know what that is.

Is God leading me through some new door? I don’t know, but if this sense of His absence is here because He wants me to follow Him somewhere, then I certainly want to go, even though I’m comfortable here. Maybe I’m too comfortable and that’s the problem. I’m not in despair, I’m just seeking to figure out these ants in my pants that Buechner spoke of. Lyrics by the late great singer Rich Mullins come to my mind today and I puzzle over things of faith.

“All I really need to know Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time.
We can’t see what’s ahead and we can not get free of what we’ve left behind.
I’m reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret.
I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here
Where I’m lost enough to let myself be led.

And so You’ve been here all along I guess
It’s just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get”.
–Rich Mullins (Hard To Get)

After reading over those words by Rich again I think I will just take the stance of Job and place my hand over my mouth. Lord, take me to a place where I am lost enough to let myself be led. But just once, could You be clear and unambiguous about it? Probably not, but I love you anyway.

Ready to start recording the Rick Lee James ‘Voices In My Head’ podcast. I’m calling it Voices In My Head because it will cover things that speak to me. Looking for a co-host to dialogue about stuff we like. Music, movies, comics, books, etc through a theological lens. Applicants can contact me directly. Must know how to talk. Being a bit of a nerd with a good sense of humor won’t hurt either. Reply below and tell my why you should be my co-host. Points for creativity!

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The First 7 Days

I’ve decided confront my own humanity with a video project documenting myself over an entire year. I was going to call the project 365 Days of Rick but since it’s a leap year I had to throw in an extra day so now it’s called 366 days of Rick. I know what you’re thinking, that’s way too many days of Rick and I don’t disagree with you but let me explain the premise.

I plan on using this project to make a music video for one of my songs. I am taking a short video clip of my face every single day this year and stringing them all together into one video. The thought is that at the end I can see how a person (namely me) physically changes over the span of a year.

In our society we want instant gratification and I guess this is kind of my quiet protest against that. Significant things can happen over time, but we need to be willing to wait on them. I don’t know if this project will hold significance for anyone but me but I’m doing it anyway. I’m not a very patient person so it’s kind of stretching me to do something like this.

I just wanted to try something unique this year. I’m not sure exactly what the final outcome will be, but that’s what faith is, following when we don’t know where we are going. Maybe the release of this video will go along with the release of my next album. Who knows, maybe it will turn into something completely different by the end of the year.

With that said I wish you all a wonderful start to what I hope is a Happy New Year! Keep checking back for updates on my progress. I plan on giving previews. Right now there’s only two days of footage so it would be boring to show you anything yet. Blessings!!!

Rick

Rick Lee James YouTube Page