Cursing God and Finding Faith…My Story

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
why.

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
Messiah.”

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
unresolved life?

Podcast #119 – Questions From God – part 4 of 10

Episode 119

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Take the $5.00 Challenge – Make The Record

Podcast #115: Karissa Knox Sorrell and the Journey to Orthodoxy

Podcast 115

Karissa Knox Sorrell is a wife, mother, writer, and educator. She love books, coffee, early mornings, good friends, and the ocean. She grew up as a preacher’s kid and missionary kid in the Church of the Nazarene and lived in Bangkok, Thailand from the ages of 11-18. Now she makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and two children. In her twenties, she and her husband began to learn about liturgy, which led them to the Eastern Orthodox Church. They’ve been there for the past nine years. She has a passion for immigrants and people from other cultures and was an ESL teacher for eleven years. Karissa has also been pursuing creative writing for the past several years and is almost finished writing her first book, Transfigured Faith, a spiritual memoir about growing up in the home of Protestant ministers and later discovering Orthodoxy. Hear more about her writing, her family, and her faith journey on this week’s episode of Voices In My Head, the official podcast of Rick Lee James.

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Voices In My Head (the Official Rick lee James Podcast) is dedicated to covering books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesFacebook, and Rick Lee James.comRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice messagecomment forVoices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music Bandcamp.com,  iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent toRLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.
Music used on Today’s Episode:

If You Hear His Voice Today – Rick Lee James

Podcast #114: Pentecost 2014

Podcast 114 Pentecost
It’s Pentecost, but what does that mean? What in the world is a tongue of fire? Why do we call this the birthday of the church? Does God change at Pentecost? What is the difference between the Greek and Hebrew thoughts on Heaven? How can the writing of Rabbi Roland S. Gittelsohn help us to understand Pentecost? All this plus a medley of Pentecost hymns by Rick Lee James on this week’s episode of Voices In My Head.
Click To Listen
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Voices In My Head (the Official Rick lee James Podcast) is dedicated to covering books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesFacebook, and Rick Lee James.comRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice messagecomment forVoices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music Bandcamp.com,  iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent toRLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.
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Podcast # 113- Brian Zahnd: A Farewell To Mars

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We know Jesus the Savior, but have we met Jesus, Prince of Peace?
When did we accept vengeance as an acceptable part of the Christian life? How did violence and power seep into our understanding of faith and grace? For those troubled by this trend toward the sword, perhaps there is a better way.
What if the message of Jesus differs radically differs from the drumbeats of war we hear all around us?
My guest this week on Voices In My Head is Brian Zahnd and these are just a few of the questions he addresses in his latest book, A Farewell To Mars. Join us as we discuss this great new book more in more detail.
Brian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church, a nondenominational congregation in St. Joseph, Missouri. Brian is a passionate reader of theology and philosophy, an avid hiker, mountain climber, and authority on all things Bob Dylan. Brian and his wife Peri have three adult sons and three grandchildren.
Voices In My Head (the Official Rick lee James Podcast) is dedicated to covering books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesFacebook, and Rick Lee James.comRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice messagecomment forVoices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music Bandcamp.com,  iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent toRLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.
Music used on Today’s Episode:
  • With God On Our Side – Bob Dylan
  • With God On Our Side – The Neville Brothers
  • With God On Our Side – Claudia Scott

Free Easter Album, Sheet Music, and Book from Rick Lee James

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“Freely you received, freely give.” — Matthew 10:8

Get a free Easter album with Sheet music from Rick Lee James on Noisetrade

Easter Worship Exp 2014 Easter Worship Experience 2014 with Rick Lee James on Noisetrade.com

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Also, as a bonus for Holy Week, download Rick Lee James’s book, Out of the Depths on Noisetrade Books. image2.jpg noisetradebooks

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Episode 103: Worship Band Workshop

Podcast 103

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This Podcast is workshop number two of four, led by Rick Lee James at the Team Day event in Michigan, 2014. The 4 workshops will covered in this series are

1.) Songwriting For The Local Church -Podcast Episode #101
2.) Worship Band Workshop  – Podcast Episode #103
3.) Substance vs. style In Worship – Podcast Episode #104
4.) Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms – Podcast Episode #105

Voices In My Head is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, but with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunes,Reverbnation.com, and FacebookRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice message comment forVoices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent to RLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.

Basement Psalms_Amazon Instant Video

Podcast #100: The Book Show with Guest Host Ben DeBono

100th episode

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It’s hard to believe but this is episode #100 of the Voices In My Head Podcast! This week Rick turns over the hosting reins to Ben DeBono, host of the Sci-Fi Christian Podcast to guide Rick in a conversation about 100 shows and his new book, Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms. 

Voices In My Head is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, but with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesReverbnation.com, and FacebookRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice message comment for Voices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent to RLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.

Podcast #99: Ragamuffin Road Trip with David Leo Shultz

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In this episode of Voices In My Head I hit the road and head to Anderson Indiana to see the movie Ragamuffin, based on the life of Rich Mullins. We talk with our friend David Leo Schultz, the director of the film, and meet road hazards along the way. I give my take on the movie and share some thoughts on Rich Mullins as well.

Voices In My Head is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, but with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunes,Reverbnation.com, and FacebookRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice message comment forVoices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent to RLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.

 

Podcast Episode #98_Thomas Merton

Episode #98

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This week on Voices In My Head, my guest is Thomas Merton. Thomas Merton is a spiritual hero of mine and even though he passed away many years ago, his writings and life have been a major influence upon the world. Today I read selections from his book, No Man Is An Island, and share some Merton inspired thoughts on salvation.

Voices In My Head is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, but with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunes,Reverbnation.com, and FacebookRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice message comment forVoices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent to RLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube. Please leave a review on iTunes and let us know what you thought of today’s episode.