A New Year’s resolution I would encourage anyone to try is to seek out things that challenge your faith. Don’t accept easy answers, strive after the ones that make you uncomfortable. Like most things in life, the easier it is, the less worthwhile it will likely be. A weak faith is an unchallenged faith. A strong faith must be tested by fire. All that is not real will burn up, but the things of value, like gold, will be refined and purified.
Crown Him the Lord of peace
Whose power a sceptre sways
From pole to pole
That wars may cease
And all be prayer and praise
His reign shall know no end
And round His pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet
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
“Us” vs. “Them” is the opposite of the Gospel. There is just as much “Them” in “Us” as there is “Us” in “Them”. The coming of Christ is the birth of the One who taught us to love “Them” even when they don’t love us. This isn’t to say that Jesus found all of “Them” lovable or even likable, and I think he found “Us” even le
ss so. It almost seemed like he couldn’t stand religious people because they couldn’t loosen up enough to have some food, a drink, and a laugh with the non-religious people. That’s saying a lot for an Orthdox, practicing Jew like Jesus to act so unorthodox. It’s so strange of Jesus to treat his enemies as family and friends and to treat his friends and family as enemies, but that’s the gospel for you. It draws people in and drives people out. Christmas is the birth of the one who makes us all uncomfortable by loving “Us” so much that He is willing to treat “Us” like “Them” and “Them” like “Us”. For us it seems to be “Merry Christmas” today and “Crucify him” tomorrow for we don’t want a Savior we can’t manipulate and control. He’s more like “Them” than we want to admit, which is why we will smile and betray him with a kiss. Come Jesus and show us what love really is, even if it make “Us” squirm when we discover we are “Them”.
For those of you following the progress of making my next album, I wanted to share some pictures from yesterday in the studio. We recorded at the Poole Room in Franklin Tennessee. It’s a really incredible environment for making music. These players and engineers are literally some of the best in the world. They cut 8 songs in 6 hours…and even the unmixed cuts sound amazing. I came prepared for two full days in the studio but it only took one. These guys are the unsung heroes of the music business and are certainly my heroes. They are the guys you hear on the radio but you never hear their names. My deepest gratitude to each of them, Lifeway Worship, and Producer Craig Adams for making this happen. We are planning to record my vocals and additional guitar parts in early 2015.
I hope that this update finds you well. The advent season is upon us again and with it, as always, is much busyness. In addition to the normal Yuletide events this year, This year I add recording a new album to the schedule. This Thursday I will begin my drive to Nashville Tennessee and on Friday morning we will begin tracking the new album. I am so excited about this as I’m sure you are well aware. I have dreamed of an opportunity like this for so many years and God is finally open the door. I am so blessed to work with Lifeway Worship, Producer Craig Adams, A list musicians, and the top engineers in Nashville on this project.
I believe we have come up with a title that encapsulates this project. We think the title will be Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations. I am so blessed by so many of you given how did your resources to make this album the reality. Make God bless you in this holiday season and renew your faith in Christ. I covet your prayers as we begin this recording process and I ask you to pray for others will be renewed in their faith as a result of this endeavor. While we want to make great music, the goal is to reveal Jesus and the present reality of the kingdom of God.
I’ll do my best to update you on line through Facebook and Twitter (@RickLeeJames) while I am in Nashville with pictures and more as I am able. I feel very blessed today and I can’t wait to share the songs with you as a complete collection.