My fellow Christians, this is about as political as I plan on getting.
I’m a Christian. Christians have their own political system.
The Nicene Creed is the Christian’s Constitution
The Sermon on the Mount is the Christian’s bill of rights.
We’ve rarely, if ever, had a candidate in this nation that represented our creed or our sermon.
Love anyway. Don’t panic.
Our holy book tells us that Non-believers will know we are Christians by our love.
I fear that we are coming to be known by our fear, our name calling, our judgmental attitudes, our intolerance, our racism, our homophobia, and our panic.
Remember who you are.
You’re better than this. You’re called to be better than this. Be better than this.
If you don’t know the Nicene Creed or the Sermon on the Mount then you might want to look them up, learn them, and build your life around them. They kind of sum up Christianity. Actually, that’s exactly what they do.
Rethink everything (That’s what repent means)
That’s all I’ve got.
Rick Lee James
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)
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:
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.”
The Following is From The Book,
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
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