This video was recorded as a Facebook Live Broadcast to help raise funding for a new studio album.

We still need your help to make this record! Every donation no matter how small.

Donate before February 18th on Indiegogo. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thunder-a-new-album-by-rick-lee-james-music/x/17048881#/

https://youtu.be/R4CXQ2YesRA

“Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. During Advent we “wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ,” in the phrase used each week in the Catholic Mass. Advent is about Jesus’ coming; even the word advent means “coming.” We celebrate the threefold coming of Jesus. We remember His coming in the past as a baby in Bethlehem, born to redeem the world. We are thankful for His coming into our hearts in the present, as we make more and more of our lives available to Him, to be used as He wishes. And we look forward joyfully to His Second Coming at the end of time when all people shall be judged and all creation shall be purified and perfected.

The Christmas story is, simply put, the most beautiful story in the world. The four lovely weeks of Advent allow us to take this story out each year and examine it. Like a jewel that sparkles in different colors when it is held up to the light and rotated, Advent lets us see the Christmas story from different angles. We sense the longing of the prophets who foretold Christ; our hearts wonder with Mary, rejoice with Elizabeth, empathize with Joseph, and thrill with the shepherds.

Advent reminds us, too, that while Christmas was glorious, it was human sinfulness and estrangement from God that made it necessary for Jesus to come to earth. So we are reminded of our spiritual lives, and of our need to be found walking in righteousness when He comes again in glory. Mostly Advent gives us a chance to remember and pay homage to the most beautiful part of the Christmas story: the incomparable, miracle-working, ardent, relational, self-sacrificing love of God for the people of the world.”

Yours Is the Day, Lord, Yours Is the Night: A Morning and Evening Prayer Book

Jeanie Gushee and David Gushee

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-bwni7-772f62

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Shane Claiborne is a follower of Jesus and following Jesus has led him on many adventures. Following Jesus has taken him from the streets of Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. Following Jesus has taken him From Rwanda to the West Bank, from Afghanistan to Iraq, and from Tennessee to Philly where he leads “The Simple Way”, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world.
 

What many people don’t know about Shane is that he was also friends with the late Rich Mullins. On this episode I talk with Shane about Rich, following the peaceful path of JEsus, gun violence, the death penalty and more.

Make sure you listen to the very end of the podcast so you can find out how to get one of Shane Claiborne’s audiobooks for free.

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Note: This article originally appeared in Worship Leader Magazine Jan/Feb issue 2017

Psalm 95:6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
Ancient believers understood that worship is prayer. The book of Psalms was not only the hymnbook of our ancient Faith, it was also the prayerbook. The songs and the prayers of the people were one and the same, that is to say, when they were singing, they were praying. There didn’t need to be a prayer chorus to lead into the pastoral prayer time because the song itself was a form of prayer and when the service started the praying had already begun.

There is a wonderful Latin phrase, “lex orandi, lex credendi,” which loosley translated means “the law of praying is the law of believing”. A simpler way of saying it might be, “our worship forms our theology”. Lex orandi, lex credendi was the guiding principle in the ancient church for developing the creeds, the canon of scripture, and other doctrinal matters based on the prayers (liturgy) of the church. Before the church had the Bible, it had it’s worship liturgy. Before we had the New Testament, we had the prayers of the people filling our worship. The close communion with God that the church had in its praying and it’s liturgy is a huge part of what guided us to the canonizing of the Bible.

Worship fueled the imagination of the early church and led it to act upon it’s theology. In Acts chapter 2 we see a church at worship in an upper room in Jerusalem, actively waiting and praying together for the promise of God. We notice in the story that when the Holy Spirit overcame the church in Jerusalem, it didn’t just land at random in people on the street. The Holy Spirit fell first upon those believers who were praying and waiting in worship.

The worship of the early church was not rote and inactive, it was a worship that led them into the streets with a message like no other. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) Make no mistake about it, this is a literal call to worship. Repentance is the action of turning away from sin and this turning away is rooted in prayer. This turning away is marked in a liturgical action called baptism. To paraphrase William Willimon, our baptism is thethe departure/death from empire to live into a physical Kingdom of God with it’s own logic, language, and culture. Worship is the way that we pass along the Christian faith with its logic, language and culture. Worship is the church at prayer.

Should our view of the congregational liturgy be any different from those early Christians? When we gather together to worship as the body of Christ shouldn’t we be just as engaged in worship as prayer? From gathering to the benediction our worship is prayer. Do we understand this when we are doing service planning?

Rather than increasing our repertoire of music, what if our driving goal as worship leaders and service planners was to increase our congregation’s repertoire for prayer? What if we saw our vocation as a way to helping our people communicate with God? James Hudson Taylor once said, “I have seen many men work without praying, though I have never seen any good come out of it; but I have never seen a man pray without working.” When we study the great revivals of history we can see that prayer has been at the center of them all. While revival may not always be the result of our prayers, we do know that revival has never come without prayer.

If liturgy is in fact the work of the people then shouldn’t prayer be our primary tool in that work? What if we put real effort, advanced effort even, into helping our congregations pray as they worship? What if all words spoken to God in our worship services were intentionally words of prayer? What if our quiet moments in worship were intentionally designed to help our people listen? What would happen if Prayer saturated our services? What if in our service planning we made sure that every service element was one of prayer?

According to the Book of Common Prayer, “Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.” We know that the principal kinds of prayer are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and petition so imagine with me what it might look like if we worked to make every element of our worship a form of prayer?

If prayer is the one essential thing we do in worship, maybe we should examine the structure of our weekly services and ask if the elements at play could be considered prayer. Is the offering a time of true oblation for the people in our congregation or do they simply write out checks and quietly chit chat to each other while the plates are passed and a song is played? Are your announcement times placed in a part of the service that helps or hinders your congregation’s connection with God? Are your greeting times truly moments of passing God’s peace to each other or are they simply short times of shooting the breeze in the middle of the service? Are there opportunities for repentance and confession in each service, preferably near the beginning, where your people can enter into God’s presence with clean hearts?

I’ll close with a few questions to ask after we have examined the structure of our services:

  • Are there are elements of our services that are clearly not forms of prayer?
  • Are we able to do without them and use the time in a more effective, or more holy way?
  • Are the songs that we are singing helping us to prayer?
  • Are there songs that may actually be hindering us from praying?
  • As worship leaders and worship songwriters we are literally putting words into the mouths of worshippers, are those words worthy of the gospel?
  • Are we striving to make every minute of worship Kairos/holy time or are we just simply trying to fill the hour?
  • What does our worship say about where God is calling us?
  • Do our prayer times call our people to actively participate engage in prayer?
  • What does our worship say about God?

POdcast Listen

On Tuesday, July 26th, an 84 year old priest, Father Jacques Hamel, was murdered in cold blood while he was leading a mass in France. He was forced to his knees before his throat was slit all while being videotaped. How marred the image of God must be in the people who do things like that, one of them a 19 year old.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He also said, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28).

So how do we pray for enemies like this? How do we possibly love them like Jesus taught us?

Maybe we try praying the Lord’s Prayer for them.

Our Father in heaven, we pray that our enemies would be converted by your hallowed, holy, sacred name.

We pray that your Kingdom would come upon our enemies and Your will would be done in them and to them. Let this happen on earth before they have to stand before your heavenly throne in judgment.

Give them as little or as much provision as is needed to drive them unto you and to beg for forgiveness of their trespasses. Do the same for us until we have prayed to a place where we are able to forgive them, lest we be accountable in Your judgement.

Lead them away from the path of temptation and deliver them from this evil that has overcome them, because Lord, Your Kingdom is the only Kingdom with power, authority, and glory.

As we pray this for our enemies we pray it for ourselves as well. Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy.

In our lives and especially in our deaths, may the love of Jesus be seen in us by everyone, especially our enemies who need Your love so desperately.

Our lives are yours Lord, and with our final breath, help us to tell our enemies, “God loves You and what the enemy has intended for evil, our God will work for good.”

On Tuesday, July 26th, 2016, an 84 year old priest, Father Jacques Hamel, was murdered in cold blood while he was leading a mass in France. He was forced to his knees before his throat was slit all while being videotaped. How marred the image of God must be in the people who do things like that, one of them a 19 year old.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He also said, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28).

So how do we pray for enemies like this? How do we possibly love them like Jesus taught us?

Maybe we try praying the Lord’s Prayer for them.

Our Father in heaven, we pray that our enemies would be converted by your hallowed, holy, sacred name.

We pray that your Kingdom would come upon our enemies and Your will would be done in them and to them. Let this happen on earth before they have to stand before your heavenly throne in judgment.

Give them as little or as much provision as is needed to drive them unto you and to beg for forgiveness of their trespasses. Do the same for us until we have prayed to a place where we are able to forgive them, lest we be accountable in Your judgement.

Lead them away from the path of temptation and deliver them from this evil that has overcome them, because Lord, Your Kingdom is the only Kingdom with power, authority, and glory.

As we pray this for our enemies we pray it for ourselves as well. Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy.

In our lives and especially in our deaths, may the love of Jesus be seen in us by everyone, especially our enemies who need Your love so desperately.

Our lives are yours Lord, and with our final breath, help us to tell our enemies, “God loves You and what the enemy has intended for evil, our God will work for good.”

I invite you to pray along with me this week on this special episode of The Voices My Head Podcast as I lead us through a Morning Daily Prayer Rite of the Orthodox Church. Click the picture below to follow along with the prayer.

Beginning Daily Prayer Rule