The Psalms: you’ve heard them read in church, adapted into worship songs and maybe glanced through them once or twice. But have you ever asked yourself what the message is behind this moving yet enigmatic book? Have you ever let the Psalms truly speak to you, or, to put it more accurately, let God speak to you through them? In Out of the Depths, singer and song-writer Rick Lee James invites you to do precisely that. Using a unique blend of personal stories, scholarship and pastoral insight, Rick walks you through the Book of Psalms in 10 deep and powerful chapters. He invites you to learn more, feel more and, above all, hear from God through the Psalms more than you ever have before.
Whether you’ve read the Psalms a hundred times or aren’t familiar with them at all, Out of the Depths is a book that will challenge you and help you to look at the Bible’s prayer book, the Book of Psalms, in an entirely new light.
How do we pray for our enemies? Are we called to pray any differently in times like these when terrorists groups like ISIS slaughter people without remorse? Isn’t this just like the world Jesus was in 2000 years ago when Romans occupied his Jewish homeland, enslaved his people, and demanded that they declare “Caesar Is Lord” or face execution? Is it any different than ISIS forcing victims to convert to Islam or die today?
It’s hard to be like Jesus these days. It was hard to be like Jesus 2000 years ago as well. It was hard for Jesus to be like Jesus, but he was like Jesus all the way to the cross, and back. That is to say, Jesus was being like God, perfect as He is perfect. His call to His followers is to follow His example and to do the same. What would Jesus do? Jesus would die for the sins of man. Maybe a better way to say it is, Jesus would die by the sins of man, at the hands of sinful men. In fact, Jesus did die, at the hands of sinful men, execution by sinfulness.
Being like Jesus so often will lead us to the wrong side of a cross, a machine gun, a knife, machete, or a death squad, but I don’t think He was kidding when he taught his followers to take up their cross and follow him. It’s insane, but it’s an insanity that ushers the Kingdom of God into the world.
“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.”
Do we mean that in the bad times when our lives are at stake?
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Do we mean that when terrorists like ISIS are threatening to kill, steal, and destroy our families and take our lives?
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Are we willing to bless when we are cursed? Are we willing to bless the common cup and share the common bread, even when Judas is at the table?
God never created an evil thing. There is no evil anywhere that was created by God. God is love and every act of God is an act of love. Evil is a distortion of the good things of God. ISIS is made up of humans who are created in God’s good image. However, that image has been distorted by sin and evil. God creates and redeems, but these men are doing the opposite of that, they are destroying and causing chaos.
These are not things blessed by God, willed by God, condoned by God, or overlooked by God. It doesn’t matter if they do it in God’s name or not, these murderous acts are not of God. Religion enforced by violence is not true religion! It never has been and it never will be. ISIS is a distortion of the good things that God has made, namely human beings. These men are not being their true selves, they are not being who God made them to be. They are distortions of human beings, not the holy thing God created them to be.
My prayer is that God would restore his image in these human beings in spite of the evil things they have done and are doing. Show them Your Glory, O God, and in doing so bring them to repentance. The God we serve is a God that can change even the cold hearts of the men in ISIS. Only God can do the healing that needs so desperately to be done.
Lord, break the bows and shatter the spears. Make every missile miss it’s Mark and let every bullet be a dud. Thwart the plans of the wicked and restore them, to your image, O God. Bring violent men to justice and heal the wounded hearts and shattered lives of the people who have become victims of their deeds.
Bring about a forgiveness and mercy that only you can bring. You are the God who bore the worst that man can do on a Roman cross. Mankind is at it again, doing the worst that they can do. Overcome them, Lord, In Jesus name. Save, O God. Protect the innocent.
Deliver the suffering, O God of love. Above all, let Christians who are suffering, show the world what Jesus looks like, even in their suffering. Help your followers to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. This cannot be done without divine intervention, Lord. We simply don’t have it in us to love people who cut innocent children in half, but You call us to do it anyway. This is what we signed up for when we signed up to follow you, Jesus. If it takes our death to show the love of Jesus then let the love of Christ be seen in death and in life, for we believe it can change the world. It is a path we can only take because you took it for us, showing the way. I pray for the victims as I would pray for myself, let Jesus be seen, and come quickly Lord.
And since you call us to pray for our enemies as fervently as we pray for our loved ones, we pray for ISIS. Stop them, discipline them, punish them, bring them to repentance, save them, and turn them into brothers in Christ. Bring to them an overwhelming remorse for what they have done and are doing. Change things, Lord. Set this right. Make all things new. Show us Your Glory and make wars cease to the ends of the earth. We don’t believe violence will ever stop violence, but we believe the love of Christ can.
And We believe the words we declare in our creeds.
We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.
We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.
We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.
(The Maasai Creed composed in 1960 by the Maasai people of East Africa)
Lyrics and Music by Rick Lee James Love Our Enemies
God has made this declaration
through His Son, the Prince of Peace,
that to enter in His Kingdom
we must love our enemies.
They may seem our adversaries
but are merely slaves to sin,
so our battle is not with them
who are only hostages
Lord, deliver us from hatred,
prejudice, and cruelty.
Come remove discrimination
that the truth may set us free.
When we look at our reflection
we not only see ourselves
but we see a former captive
whom the grace of God has helped.
Father, show us how to free them
with Your mercy above
for our enemies are brothers
who’ve forgotten how to love.
You have made us in your image,
You’ve redeemed us through Your son.
Gather us into Your Kingdom
where no sword is drawn but love.
Jesus Christ, is our example
showing us the face of God
when He chose to die for sinners
rather than to shed their blood.
So we’ll fight them with affection,
we will conquer them with grace.
May our enemies see Jesus
when they look upon our face
In His time and for His pleasure
pray we all will stand one day
reconciled before the Father
when the old has passed away.
When revenge would cloud our vision
turn our eyes to Calvary
where our Savior died to show us
how to love our enemies.
Lord and Maker of creation,
every life is dear to Thee
In the holy name of Jesus
help us love our enemies
“Rick Lee James has accomplished what I have been trying to do for decades; bring together the thoughtful reader with the discerning listener. He has written an important introduction to the Psalter which opens the door to his own musical interpretations.”
Award Winning Singer, Songwriter, & Author
“The Psalms take up more real estate in the Bible than any other book. This ancient Jewish hymnal is an anthology of lyrics for one hundred and fifty songs. These God-obsessed poems are not to be blithely read, but prayed, or better yet chanted and sung. To properly approach the Psalms we need to abandon the didactic and embrace the poetic, but this does not come naturally for everyone. What we need is the artistic sensibilities of a songwriter to guide us. This is precisely what Rick Lee James brings to the Psalms in his wonderful book Out Of The Depths. As a pastor/songwriter/musician Rick Lee James is uniquely suited to introduce us to the Psalms and help us see how these three thousand year old songs speak to the whole range of human experience in the light of brutal honesty and radical trust in God. I highly recommend Out Of The Depths!”
Pastor of Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri & Author of A Farewell To Mars (2014)
“My friend, Rick Lee James, reminded me that Christian art can still be thoughtful and profound in his beautiful record “Basement Psalms Live.” In this companion book, Rick brings the depth of his attentive songwriting to life by highlighting the intention, the community, and the reverence that the Biblical Psalms have demanded from people of faith since their inception. Most important, Rick’s writing expounds on the deep sense of hope and joy that is the palatable foundation of his music. I highly recommend this book.”
Author of Holy Nomad: The Rugged Road To Joy, Educator, & Speaker
“Part memoir, part biblical commentary, part album liner notes, Out of the Depths is a unique and refreshing exploration of the Psalms. Rick Lee James offers a compelling, insightful overview both of the theological contributions of the Psalms but also their inspiration for his own musical pursuits. The result is a soul-enriching journey through the highs, lows, joys and laments of the Christian life.”
Author of Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty
Rick Lee James’ insight into the Psalms is refreshing! His love of songs and worship find thought-provoking expression in this truly inspirational book!
Rick James is raising funds for Out of the Depths: A Book By Rick Lee James on Kickstarter! "Out Of The Depths: A Songwriter's Journey Through The Psalms" is a companion book to my live 2013 album, Basement Psalms LIVE.
On this week’s Podcast, Rick’s talks about why St. Patrick is important not only for Christianity, but also why he is a huge reason for the existence of civilization in the Western world. He also shares a new song that was co-written by Rick lee James and Eddie Kirkland based on st. Patrick’s famous prayer.
On this week’s Podcast, Rick’s son Alexander Grayson briefly joins him. Pulling from 9 weeks of experience as a dad, Rick talks about “How To Be A Parent”. Plus Rick shares a new song that he wrote for his son, “Love Drawn Near (Song For My Son)“.
This week on Voices In My Head I am talking about Infant Baptism and why we are having our son baptized this weekend. While this week is kind of a short podcast I think there is a lot of food for thought. I rely heavily on the book of common prayer for this one so for all you theology hounds, check this one out.
Psalm 8 (How Majestic Is Your Name)
(Praise/ Thanksgiving Psalm)
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name
How majestic is You name
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name
How majestic is You name, how majestic is Your name in all the earth
In all the earth we see your hand
In the creatures of the air, the sea, and the land
The little babies cry your name
And the enemy is broken by their praise
O Lord, echo: (Yahweh)
Our Lord, echo: (Yahweh)
How majestic is Your name, How majestic is You name
O Lord, echo: (Yah-weh)
Our Lord, echo: (Yah-weh)
How majestic is Your name
How majestic is You name, how majestic is Your name in all the earth
The moon above, the starry skies
You set Your glory in the heavens So Father who am I
That you would dwell Your thoughts on me
That You would put the whole world under my feet