New Album Update, Podcast News, and Escape To The Lake 2018

New Album Update

I wanted to give you a quick update about the progress of the new album. Two months ago I started crowdfunding to raise money to pay for the recording costs for the new album.

Total costs to pay for the remaining unpaid studio time, mixing, and mastering of the album came to $10,200.

Last night the crowdfunding campaign ended. All total we’ve raised $5360, which means I’ll be paying $4840 out of pocket to pay for recording costs.

So where does that leave us?

I’ve decided to go ahead with making the album in spite of being short of funds. So many of you have given so generously and have shown such enthusiasm for this new music that I feel like there is no other choice.

It might take a little longer to make the album than I originally though since the money I was raising did not cover the costs of printing the CD. Distributing, marketing, or any other if the many expenses involved in making then album. This makes the financial burden much greater, but I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to get the album made.

Thank you to all of who who have helped by spreading the word about the new album. Thank you to all of you who have donated money so generously and sacrificially. Thank you for all to all of you who pre-ordered the album.

From here we will trust God to provide and I’ll keep working to bring it to you.

Podcast News

I’ve been working very hard to bring some great guests to my podcast, Voices In My Head.

In the past year I’ve welcomed amazing like William Willimon, Tim Madigan, Shane Claiborne, Stephen Tobolowsky, Science Mike McHargue, Andrew Peterson, and many more.

We’ve had conversations on music, Worship, Ethics, Sexual and Racial Equality, Islam, Judaism, and much more. The podcast listener community keeps growing and the feedback I’ve been getting has been very encouraging. I just wanted to take a moment to recommend that you give the show a listen and leave some feedback on iTunes. I think you will be glad that you did.

http://www.RickLeeJames.Podbean.com

Escape To The Lake

ESCAPE TO THE LAKE 2018 (JULY 19-21) – REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

Escape To The Lake 2018 is coming July 19-21 to Cedar Lake, IN. It’s UTR Media’s flagship event and a one-of-a-kind retreat bringing music makers and music lovers together to be spiritually, emotionally, & musically refreshed. It is an amazing time of friendship, food, laughter, learning… and of course gourmet music. We are looking forward to live music & sessions with Me (Rick Lee James) Andrew Osenga, Christa Wells, Nick Flora, Royce Lovett, Caroline Cobb, Brothers McClurg, Taylor Leonhardt, The Mosleys, Adam Whipple, Dave Trout, and over a half-dozen others artists to be revealed soon.

UTR Media also will host the 4th annual ETTL Songwriters’ Bootcamp on July 18-19. A team of world class professional songwriting mentors will help you hone your craft at any level of songwriting (beginner, hobby, church, professional). And ALL are welcome for this optional add-on experience… including those who don’t write songs but just want to ease drop on the creative process and soak in the amazing conversations.

Plus you’ll be able to enjoy our “Epic In The Round” concert on July 18th.

Come and join us!

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

Escape To The Lake Info: http://escapetothelake.net/?utm_source=Listeners&utm_campaign=a8fb0aa12e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_23&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e794087610-a8fb0aa12e-127142502&mc_cid=a8fb0aa12e&mc_eid=92ac97db8e

Voices In My Head Podcast Episode 262 Guest William Willimon: Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism.

My guest today on Voices in My Head is The Reverend Dr. William H. Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School of Duke University. He served eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he led 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama. For twenty years prior to the episcopacy, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

He is the author of over sixty books including Resident Aliens,  Thank God It’s Friday, Word, Water, Bread and Wine, Worship as Pastoral Care (which was selected as one of the ten most useful books for pastors by the Academy of Parish Clergy), and What’s Right with the Church?  In 1996, an international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-speaking world.

Today we discuss one of his latest and most timely books, Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism.

Donate Now To Rick Lee James New Album at www.RickLeeJames.com/Thunder

Christmas: Herod in Trouble — A Peculiar Prophet by Dr. William Willimon

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, […]

via Christmas: Herod in Trouble — A Peculiar Prophet

Jesus Only Saves Sinners by William Willimon

“I stand at the front door of the church. It is Sunday. I like to stand here and watch people entering the church. What unites them? Sinners come in the church. Some are still in their mother’s arms. Sleeping, they come, but not of their own volition. They look innocent enough, but they are still sinners. Though outwardly cuddly and cute, they are among the most narcissistic and self-centered in the congregation. When they wake up, they will cry out, not caring that the rest of us are about important religious business. When they are hungry, they will demand to be fed, now. Cute, bundled up, placidly sleeping or peevishly screaming. Sinners. Sinners come to church. They are being led by the hand. They do not come willingly. Though they put up a fight an hour ago, a rule is a rule, and there they are. They have said that they hate church. They have said things about church that you wouldn’t be allowed to have published in the local newspaper, if you were older. Ten years old they are, and they lack experience and expertise, but not in one area: they are sinners. Sinners come in the church. Sullen, slouched, downcast eyes. They were out with friends last night to a late hour, and the incongruity between here in the morning and there last night is striking. They know it and it is only one of the reasons why they do not want to be here. Dirty thoughts. Desire. Things you are not supposed to think about. These thoughts make these sinners very uncomfortable at church. Sinners come to church, and they have put on some weight, middle-aged, receding hairlines, “showing some age.” They are holding on tight. Well-dressed, attempting to look very respectable, proper. Youthful indiscretions tucked away, put behind them, does anybody here know? A couple of things tucked away from the gaze of the IRS. And a night that wasn’t supposed to happen two conventions ago. These sinners are looking over their shoulders. They are having trouble keeping things together. Maybe that is why there are so many of these sinners here, coming in the door of the church. Sinners come in the church, and the doors at last are closed. The last of them scurry to their appointed seats. The organ music begins, played by an extremely talented, incredibly gifted artist, who is also a sinner. And the lyrics to that first hymn, something about “Amazing Grace,” sung, appropriately, by those who really need it, need it in the worst way. They sing in the singular, but it ought to be in the plural. “Amazing grace that saved wretches like us.” Sinners come into church. And now for the chief of them all, the one most richly dressed, most covered up, the one who leads, and does most of the talking. Some call him pastor. Down deep, his primary designation is none other than that of those whom he serves. Sinners come into the church, and now their pastor welcomes them, their pastor, the one who on a regular basis presumes to speak up for God, making him the “chief of sinners.” Sinners come to church, all decked out, all dressed up, all clean and hopeful. Sinners, sinners hear the good news, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1: 15). Jesus called as his disciples Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Mary and Mary Magdalene. Sinners. Only sinners. And Jesus got into the worst sort of trouble for eating and drinking with sinners. Only sinners. Sinners. Jesus saves sinners. Thank God. Only sinners. We sinners.”

From The Best of William Willimon: Acting Up In The Name of Jesus

William Willimon on NOT reaching culture

I want to start featuring posts by some of my favorite preachers and teachers. Here is a wonderful piece from 2007 by Methodist Bishop William Willimon. It’s wonderful.

This blog post originally appeared on http://www.willimon.blogspot.com/2007/11/on-not-reaching-our-culture-through–our.html

 

 

A good reminder to preachers about our task to NOT Reach Our Culture Through Our Preaching

“Recently I led a group of pastors in a discussion about our preaching. When I asked the pastors, “What areas would you like help with in your preaching?” most of them responded with, “I want help in making connection with my listeners, relating the gospel to their everyday lives.”

“I want to preach sermons which really hit my people where they live.”

In sum, these pastors wanted to preach in a way that addressed their culture. There was a time when I would have agreed that this was one of the primary purposes of Christian preaching–to relate the gospel to contemporary culture. However, I have come to question this way of construing the task of Christian preaching.

Sometimes in leaning over to speak to the modern world, I fear that we may have fallen in! When, in our sermons, we sought to use our sermons to build a bridge from the old world of the Bible to the new modern world, the traffic was only moving in one direction on that interpretive bridge. It was always the modern world rummaging about in Scripture, saying things like “This relates to me,” or, “I’m sorry, this is really impractical,” or, “I really can’t make sense out of that.” It was always the modern world telling the Bible what’s what.

I don’t believe that the Bible wants to “speak to the modern world.” Rather, I think the Bible wants to change, convert the modern world.

The modern world is not only the realm of the telephone, the telegraph, and allegedly “critical thinking,” this world is also the habitat of Auschwitz, two of the bloodiest wars of history, and assorted totalitarian schemes which have consumed the lives of millions. Why would our preaching want to be comprehensible to that world?

Too often Christians have treated the modern world as if it is an unalterable fact, a reality to which we were obligated to adjust and adapt, rather than a point of view with which we might argue.

Fortunately, modern ways of knowing and thinking are gradually losing their privileged status in Western thought. We are realizing that modernity is only one way of describing what is going on in the world. Humanity has received many gifts from modern, scientific, technological ways of thinking. However, as we ended the twentieth century, we realized that modernity was not without its loses.

Rather than reaching out to speak to our culture, I think our time as preachers is better spent inculturating Twenty First Century Americans into that culture which is called church. There is no way that I can crank the gospel down to the level where any American can walk in off the street and know what it is all about within fifteen minutes. One can’t even do that with baseball! You have to learn the vocabulary, the rules, and the culture in order to understand it. Being in church is something at least as different as baseball.

Forming the church through our speech, laying on contemporary Christians the stories, images, and practices which make us disciples is our most challenging task as preachers.

The point is not to speak to the culture. The point is to change it. God’s appointed means of producing change is called church. God’s typical way of producing church is called preaching.”

William H. Willimon

Walter Brueggemann with Rick Lee James on the Voices In My Head Podcast: Episode #152

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

What a treat it was to have Dr. Walter Brueggemann on the Voices In My Head Podcast. We had such a great discussion talking about theology, music, and where we will go if we die tonight. This episode was recorded on location at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Cincinnati Ohio on Wednesday September 30th.

@RickLeeJames
@RickLeeJames

Abortion: Does The Church Really Have A Better Alternative?

So what can the church offer to a woman who is facing the difficult decision of how to handle an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy? This is one of the best responses I’ve come across. In my opinion the church has little to no right to condemn abortions if it isn’t willing to offer difficult alternatives like the one below.

William Wilmon describes hearing an African-American pastor’s response to the grim reality of teen pregnancy in his book, “What’s Right With The Church”. Here is an excerpt from Willimon’s book, and it is beautifully sacramental:

“We have young girls who have this happen to them. I have a 14-year-old in my congregation who had a baby last month. We are going to baptize the child next Sunday, “he added.

“Do you really think that she is capable of raising a little baby?” Another minister asked.

“Of course not, “he replied. “No 14-year-old is capable of raising a baby. For that matter, not many 30-year-olds are qualified. Babies are too difficult for any one person to raise by herself. “

“So what do you do with babies? “They asked.

“Well, we baptize them so that we all raise them together. In the case of that 14-year-old, we have given her baby to a retired couple who have enough time and enough wisdom to raise children. They can raise the mama along with her baby. That’s the way we do it. “

Here is a link where you can buy Bishop Willimon's book,
Here is a link where you can buy Bishop Willimon’s book, “What’s Right With The Church” on Amazon.com