I think half of my childhood was spent waiting on Christmas Day. When I was in the first grade I remember lying in bed one cool October night with my imagination running wild, just thinking about what it would be like when Christmas came. Like most 6 year olds, I didn’t have a very good grasp of time. I remember getting out of bed and walking into our kitchen where I heard my mother cleaning and getting our lunches ready for school the next day. I asked her how long it would be until Christmas. When she told me that I still had several more weeks to wait my heart sank a bit.

I was ready for Christmas. I wanted to see my grandparents, I wanted to eat Christmas cookies, I wanted to decorate the tree, and I especially wanted to open presents. The longing stayed with me. The hope, the expectation, the and the waiting were all part Christmas manifesting itself into my world. In my heart Christmas had already arrived, but Christmas Day was still to come. Those are my earliest memories of living in the already and the not yet.

As an adult the waiting and longing in life continues. This past summer–still in the shadow of the loss of my Grandfather only a month prior–I along with many of my family members, waited around the bedside of my Grandmother as hospice was called to administer care. Over several days, she slowly drifted from this life into the next. We sang hymns about heaven with her, we shared the Lord’s Supper, we recited the Apostles Creed as we grieved and steadied our lives facing the inevitable. We were waiting, watching, longing, and hanging on her every breath; wondering which one would be her last. When she waved her final goodbye we were relieved that her suffering was over, we were hurting because we already missed her, and we were heavy with the hope that all believers have. We will have to wait, but we hope in God, knowing will see her again.

My wife and I also experienced two miscarriages this year. The watching, waiting, and longing to see our babies ended in hospital rooms with doctors telling us the babies didn’t make it. As I held my wife in those hospital rooms, I recited the Apostles Creed again, trusting, believing and hoping in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. We needed that hope more than ever before. We still do.

2000 years ago heaven sent a baby into this world named Jesus. The prophets foretold his birth and for many, many years the people of God put their hope in the Messiah who would come to save them from the brokenness of the world in which they found themselves. They watched for him, they waited, they longed and prayed for the coming King, but it seemed that silence was the only reply from Heaven.

But then, in a way they never imagined, the silence of the years was broken. An angel came to Mary and her relatives with a message that the Messiah was coming. One night in Bethlehem as angels sang songs of glory and terrified shepherds trembled in their fields at the heralded announcement of his advent, Jesus the Savior of the world was born. The One who had been watched for, waited upon, and longed for was among us, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger where livestock fed.

God made good on His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ. He was a man in the flesh and a Jew by birth; he grew up poor and lived in a small village until the time was right. At the age of 30 he left his home and journeyed into the world doing good, curing people through the power of his Father, teaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and revealing that the meaning of religion is love.

His people rejected by him, tortured him and nailed hands and feet to a cross where he died like a criminal between two theives. He lay buried in the grave, but death could not defeat him. On the third day, he rose from the grave, he revealed himself to his followers, he told them to wait on the Holy Spirit, he ascended into heaven and he is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is the Lord and He will come again. We wait expectantly for him to return.

So, once again, we find ourselves waiting; just as we’ve been waiting for 2000 years for a Savior who is, and was, and is to come. We wait in the confidence that all our sins are forgiven through Him. We watch for him, believing that all who have faith in Him must repent, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, and live as citizens of the Kingdom of God. While we wait, we break bread together and in love announce this Good News to others until Jesus comes again: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

I’m still ready for Christmas. I still want to see my grandparents. I really want to hold my unborn children. I still want to eat Christmas cookies, I still want to decorate the tree, and I still like to open presents. Yet the gift that means more to me than any other is Jesus. The longing to see the Savior has formed me. Because he lives I believe I will see my grandparents again. Because he is alive, we believe we will one day hold our unborn children. We believe that one day soon, the the Kingdom of God will come in it’s fullness.
The season of Advent is a season of watching, waiting, and longing for the coming of Christ. With the season of Advent the Christian new year starts and we begin to tell this story of hope all over again. The word Advent literally means coming, in this four week season we are waiting for our Savior who was, is, and is to come. Advent is a season of hope.
“Advent Hymn (Watching, Waiting, Longing)” is a song of expectation that looks to the second coming of Christ through the lens of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It is a joyful song of celebration and a way to retell of the story of Jesus. I’m so pleased that Lifeway Worship has made this song available for churches to use during this Advent season. What a story of hope we have to share.

Check out the release of the brand new music video for Advent Hymn (Watching, Waiting Longing).

This blog originally appeared on LifeWay’s WorshipLife blog found at this link link: http://worshiplife.com/2016/11/23/advent-hymn-watching-waiting-longing-by-rick-lee-james/

image

On this episode of Voices In My Head I share about some of the great things God is doing, has done, and where we believe God is leading us next. We are making a music video on September 23rd and I’m requesting three things from the listeners of Voices in My Head:
1.) Prayer
2.) Financial Support
3.) Your Prayerfully Imaginative Ideas for the video

Our hope is to portray that while we are in the midst of great brokenness, and longing that we hopefully look to the great mystery of our faith Christ has died, Christ Is Risen, and that Christ is Coming Back again.

Listen to this 20 minute episode and then visit GoFundMe.com/RickLeeJames to find out how you can help make this video a reality.

Blessings,
Rick Lee James

Subscribe To This Podcast on iTunes
Subscribe To This Podcast on iTunes

 

Transcending Mysteries: Who Is God and What Does He Want From Us? is the new book written by Andrew Greer (http://www.andrew-greer.com) and Ginny Owens (http://ginnyowens.com). Ginny and Andrew are both my guests on the latest episode of Voice In My Head, the Rick Lee James Podcast. Together we talk about the relational aspects of God, Christmas music, New EP’s TV tapings, songwriting and even an Alaskan Cruise that Ginny and Andrew will be a part of in 2016.

I also make a final plea to pre-order my new CD “Hymns, Prayers’ and Invitations” which is due to release on March 17th, 2016 (St. Patrick’s Day). This new album features a song that Andrew Greer and I wrote together called ‘The Invitation’.

Ginny and Andrew are both wonderful people and interesting guests so sit back, stick in an earbud, and listen to the latest episode of Voices In My Head, the official Rick Lee James Podcast.

Transcending Mysteries: Who Is God and What Does He Want From Us? can be purchased here: http://www.lifeway.com/Product/transcending-mysteries-who-is-god-and-what-does-he-want-from-us-P005729670

Ginny Owens Online Store: http://ginnyowens.com/shop

Andrew Greer Online Store: http://andrewgreer.bigcartel.com

Pre-Order Rick Lee James Record (Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations):http://www.GoFundMe.com/Hymns

  

PAUL BALOCHE OFFERS CHRISTMAS GIFT, FREE DIGITAL SONGBOOK DOWNLOAD OF CHRISTMAS WORSHIP VOL. 1 & 2

Paul Baloche, PraiseCharts Host Live Webinar Tomorrow

Baloche’s Touring/Workshop/Teaching Schedule Takes Him Around The World

One of today’s most influential worship leaders, songwriters and artists, Paul Baloche, is encouraging worshippers around the globe to take all the nostalgia and sounds of the upcoming Christmas season, and make it a season of worship. Seeding the movement, Baloche is offering a free digital songbook of both his Christmas Worship Vol. 1 and Christmas Worship Vol. 2. The latter album released last month amidst acclaim from Integrity Music.

Worship leaders, and anyone wishing to accept the gift, may go to WeAreWorship.com and login or register for free on the site to receive the Christmas Worship digital songbook. They can also watch on the site Baloche’s “how to play” tutorial of “For Unto Us A Child Is Born/Open The Eyes Of My Heart” (from Christmas Worship Vol. 2),which can also be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6QRucc4Glc.

In addition to the songbook and tutorial, Baloche will be the featured guest tomorrow during a live webinar sponsored by PraiseCharts and beginning at 11:00 am CST. Baloche will be discussing worship during the Christmas season, as well as talking about his ministry, family and more. Anyone wishing to join the webinar may do so by logging in or signing up for free on Praisecharts.com.

Baloche’s Christmas Worship Vol. 1 & 2 feature Christmas classics seamlessly married with vertical worship lyrics, and are an extension of his 30-year mission in ministry to equip worshipers and worship leaders with songs and resources that help them express glory to God. Produced by Baloche and Michael Rossback (The Brilliance/Desperation Band) Christmas Worship Vol. 2continues the collaborative, community aesthetic for which Baloche is known. The new album features All Sons & Daughters, Kathryn Scott, Lenny LeBlanc, Onajé Jefferson, WorshipMob’s Gina Milne, Madison Cunningham and Graham Kendrick.

Here is how the critics are responding to Christmas Worship Vol. 2:

Christmas Worship Vol. 2 is not just a Christmas record. Rather, it’s the sine qua non as far as Christmas worship is concerned.” – Hallels.com

“To sum up, these 12 songs, masterpieces, and works of art that Paul Baloche has recorded, with his friends who have sung with him or co-written with him, are truly breathed from the Almighty.” – 365 Days of Inspiring Media

Christmas Worship Vol. 2 is an ideal package that puts a fresh spin on well-known holiday tunes.” – CCM Magazine

“I was quite captivated by the arrangements, so much so, that as I listened, I seemed to forget it was a Christmas worship album and not just a worship album I was listening to… I encourage all of you to go buy the album!” – The Church Collective

Taking the new Christmas music and messages on the road, Baloche’s touring/workshop/teaching schedule takes him around the world. He will be leading “LeadWorship” workshops and concerts in Issaquah, WA (Nov. 13-14) and The Netherlands (Nov. 18), and a “MissionWorship” event in the United Kingdom (Nov. 20-22), before returning to North America for a series of Canadian Christmas events to begin Dec. 4. See below for the current tour dates, and all the latest tour news can be found at http://www.leadworship.com/calendar/.

Nov 13-14, USA, Issaquah, WA, Workshops, Concert

Nov 18, The Netherlands, TBA, Workshops, Concert

Nov 20-22, United Kingdom, Eastbourne, Workshops, Concert

Dec 4, Canada, Moncton, NB, Info, Tickets

Dec 5, Canada, Montreal, QC, Info, Tickets

Dec 6, Canada, Ottawa, QC, Info, Tickets

Dec 7, Canada, Orillia, ON, Info, Tickets

Dec 9, Canada, Toronto, ON, Info, Tickets

Dec 11, Canada, Goderich, ON, Info, Tickets

Dec 12, Canada, St. Thomas, ON, Info, Tickets

Dec 13, Canada, Waterloo, ON, Info, Tickets

Jan 29-31, Canada, Edmonton, AB, Workshops, Concert

About Paul Baloche:

Best known for such modern classics as “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “Above All,” “Hosanna” and “Your Name,” three-time Dove Award-winning Paul Baloche has had his songs recorded by numerous artists, including Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Matt Redman and Philips, Craig & Dean. In addition to writing, recording and touring, Baloche has created a variety of teaching DVDs, along with many free resources designed specifically for worship leaders and musicians. He has also written the books, The Same Love: A Devotion(David C Cook) and God SongsHow to Write and Select Songs for Worship. He is further a contributing writer for both Worship Leader and Worship Musician magazines and is a featured blogger on ChurchLeaders.com.

For all the latest information on Paul Baloche, Christmas Worship, touring and more, visit http://leadworship.com, www.integritymusic.com, https://twitter.com/paulbaloche and https://www.facebook.com/PaulBaloche, where Baloche has over 1.3 million followers.

About Integrity Music:

Integrity Music is part of the David C Cook family, a nonprofit global resource provider serving the Church with life-transforming materials. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and with offices in Tennessee and the United Kingdom, Integrity is committed to taking songs of substance to the local church and its leaders around the world. Integrity publishes many of the top songs in the Church, including the No. 1 radio hit “We Believe” (Newsboys) as well as church standards “Revelation Song,” “Open The Eyes Of My Heart,” “Your Great Name” and “I Am Free.” Additional information can be found at www.integritymusic.com.

This Press Release Courtesy of Hoganson Media