Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Break

Hey friends and music lovers, I'm booking for 2019, but I'm on a break right now to spend time focusing on my family. The band and I will be hitting the studio in Spring 2019. In the meantime, I'm happy to be focusing on daddy duties with our newborn 2nd son, Ezra.

Keep the music going!

Psalm 19 New Living Translation (NLT)
Psalm 19
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.[a]
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
    It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens
    and follows its course to the other end.
    Nothing can hide from its heat.

7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
    reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
8 The commandments of the Lord are right,
    bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
    giving insight for living.
9 Reverence for the Lord is pure,
    lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
    each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
    even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
    even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant,
    a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Footnotes:
19:3 Or There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Anniversary: 16 Years

So, I'm not great at writing sappy, loving-sounding things. Apparently the way I'm hooked up, all my life, I've searched for what is true, above all else. I spent many of my formative years lamenting that I felt like an oddball, and with adulthood rapidly approaching, figured I'd spend much of the next season of life alone. I'd already committed my life's purpose to the Lord, and eventually trusted that surely the Lord of all creation could figure out how to bring me a wife that would align herself with His Word, beside me. It took me a long time to realize that I'm also, apparently to others, quite independent. How much greater of a miracle it is then that I've been a happily married man for 16 years. This truth is not lost upon me. In fact, second only to the surety of my Savior Jesus Christ, I count my wife to be the biggest blessing I have received. Here's how that plays out.

Recently Denise and I traveled to Memphis, TN, and visited the Gibson guitar factor there. In the finishing area, the store, and various displays were many beautiful guitars. There were a handful I found exceedingly visually appealing. I imagined for a minute, purchasing such an instrument. It was then a realization hit me. Some people buy and treat fancy guitars like their spouse. They get a pretty one and show it off...sometimes as nothing more than a trophy. I on the other hand purchase an instrument to be a workhorse. All of my instruments are players, and make regular appearances as performances.

Similarly, I prayed for a wife that would truly be a help-mate in what the Lord has called us to. The Lord delivered in excess, and she has such a beautiful finish. Uh...I mean she's pretty too! You see, I can't take these truths and set them on a shelf to be admired, gathering dust. My wife, like my instruments, I depend upon, for us to work hand in hand daily, standing upon the truths of our Lord through this life's challenges and sharing triumphs and failures. I say all as a proclamation to this end. Lord, thank you for your continued blessing of my wife, Denise Ainley Miller. The Lord sustain us until death part us.

Denise, thank you for 16 years this far.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Baby and a Band - Round 2

I'm pretty sure these topics coincided once before... Yeah, so if you haven't picked up on it by now through my social media posts, or haven't had a conversation with me, my wife and I are expecting baby # this year.

Also, I'm happy to say I will soon be joined on stage by the talented musicians:

  • Dan Peterson: Bass, Keys, Guitar
  • Ricky Breneman: Drums/Percussion

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Independence Day

Today I am thankful for our independence as a nation. In recent years there have been many attempts to encroach upon the freedom of God-fearing people. It is my hope that we will as a nation stop taking for granted the blessings we enjoy. If not for the stability brought by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even many of the opponents of our society would not have the freedom to stir up their messes. Ultimately I know there is no lasting peace and prosperity due to any government of man. God has granted us this season. Let us be grateful.

Individually, I'm frequently reminded of my failings and shortcomings. I am thankful for the true and lasting freedom that comes with being a child of God, coheir with the King of kings, and citizen of the Kingdom of God. May we each remember that none of this freedom came without a great cost.

As a musician among the warriors,

-James A. Miller

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

This Small Journey

"I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised." (Genesis 18:19, NLT)

Men, our heavenly Father has separated us out, first as a man, but secondly, individually, because no one else can take your spot. The world needs you as a man. It's how God has designed reality. The enemy tries to make you believe that your choices and actions don't count; that they are insignifican't. The truth is they have eternal consequences for you and those who come after you; even those alongside you.

Individually, the Lord has called you and you alone to be the spiritual leader of your family. It is your role to set the standard of what is right and true, rightly applying the word of God. As a son of faith and co-heir with Jesus Christ, you also inherit your position from Abraham's lineage. The promise God made to him so long ago is still being kept today, partially through you. Read of the blessings and the curses that are associated with this covenant.

At times it is fitting we should be reminded of our failings as a man. This past week my son spent a good portion of an hour, driving a boat on a lake, at 7 years old, with seven other lives depending upon him. He had some instruction, enough to make him safe in the water, though he did not know all of the hazards that were present on the lake. He had some idea of how to operate the boat, though not all. He was able to handle the task at hand, because he followed the instruction necessary to complete his portion of the journey.

Last night, my son was being careless, and ignoring caution, while driving an empty shopping cart in Lowe's home improvement store. Feeling completely in control and not bothering to recall instruction, he crashed head-on into a stack of 5 gallon buckets, knocking them over and making a loud, noise in the store. How much better it is to make such mistakes when they do not cost the lives of others, but only cause minor embrassment. He's a boy in a hurry to grow up. He recently has made it known that he has trusted in the Lord and wants to follow in baptism. His journey has launched, not arrived.

Brothers, a man is a dangerous thing without the instruction of the Lord in his life. Today I want to remind us of the challenge we face as men. We are responsible for leading our families; wife, sons and daughters, through a world that continually is bent on convincing us either our choices don't matter, or we have no obligation to be obedient to the Lord's instruction. I challenge you today to remember the eternal consequences in our lives and those entrusted to us. We can't know all of the dangers or the blessings that await. What we can do is seek the Father's instruction today for those we will encounter today, and successfully navigate through this much smaller portion of the journey, safely transporting those in our care.

May we be humbled by our frailty as men to receive all our Father has for us.

Your brother in Christ,

James A. Miller

Monday, April 02, 2018

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Happy Monday after Resurrection Sunday y'all. This is where the rubber meets the road. Yesterday, I was enjoying celebrating the resurrection of my Lord, Jesus, with my family, and didn't bother posting on any social media.

Back about 2000 years ago, stuff got real when an innocent Jewish man, who acted as a servant to all, took ownership of the claim that He was God in the flesh. A bunch of religious shysters had an oppressive government's corrupt politicians execute this man. Politics as usual...except when the man died, on the third day, He came back to life, proving He is who He says He is.

By early Spring of 1993, I'd come to understand I was a pawn in a cosmic war going on, and I was on the losing side. The thing is, I'd been fighting for all I was worth to prove to myself, and to any God that might be listening or not, that I was in the right. I tried to convince myself that I was a good person. With a whole lot of anger I argued at the sky, alternately trying to be good natured and peaceful, or perhaps somehow better than my peers. Yet somehow those emotionally charged proto-prayers seemed to bounce off the sky as if it were a ceiling and they were projectiles ricocheting back at me. That someone was hearing those prayers, and refusing to accept them. It was as if someone were speaking to me, yet I did not hear a voice. It tormented me so I prayed that God would bring peace within my heart and the relationships I continuously disturbed.

Monday evening, April 19th, 1993, at the age of 13, I attended my parents' church, against my own will, where another Jewish man proved to me the ridiculousness that false religion had brought upon his life, but still maintaining the life he had tried to live left him without hope. All the while, this voice that seemed to speak from outside of me in a whisper screamed within my being that every word he spoke was true. This man had lived life on his terms, just as unsatisfied and in conflict as I found myself. Inside I had to admit there was something real, yet intangible that was speaking to me also. That whisper kept screaming inside of me that I'd been viewing all of life wrong...that I somehow had been deceived.

At 7:39pm, I'd had enough. I knew there was a person I was resisting, and it wasn't the Jewish man standing 15 feet from me. It was the Jewish man who claimed to be God, who had been brought back to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the work of this three-in-one God I was resisting, and He was calling out for me to surrender my will to His. I desperately wanted peace. In a dramatic surrender of my will, marked only by the word "OK", and an uplifted right hand making the peace sign, I stepped forward in that old country church as I was expected to do. By then, I knew all that was merely symbolic of the change that had already taken place in my heart.

When I stepped foot in the aisle, raising my hand and surrendering my heart, instantly the world changed to me... The Holy Spirit had come into my very being. I was reborn, and it was as if I were seeing the world for the first time. I could see things for what they truly were. I'd been incapable of comprehending the oppression and deceit of satanic forces that had twisted every aspect of life. In an instant I miraculously received a new worldview, much of it in great contrast to the views I had clung to so hard just an hour before.

Tuesday, April 20th, was a new day. It was my first day waking up as a saved man. It was the first day of a daily renewed hope. It was where the rubber met the road.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

3rd Vendor Quarter Auction

Come on out and support a great cause where yours truly will be spinning some tracks and providing sound.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Loving Father

Ever notice how much time humanity spends arguing over whose version of "right" is right? Talking heads on TV? Politicians, anyone? It seems lost upon our world today that there could be such a thing as an absolute standard, but that's exactly how the Bible describes God and His standards in Deuteronomy 32. (ESV)
4 “The Rock, his work is perfect,
    for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
    just and upright is he.
Perhaps at first we can find comfort in a God who is perfect. We can take solace in knowing everything He does is complete. He judges rightly, because he is the very definition of just...from which judgment flows. But let's be honest; in any other context, the thought of judgment makes us quite edgy unless we think we're going to receive something out of it that we want to receive. We like the sound of God being faithful, especially in our sorrows and troubles. We are glad that He is without sin, and has no tolerance for it...until we find we ourselves are guilty of sin...and we are.
5 They have dealt corruptly with him;
    they are no longer his children because they are blemished;
    they are a crooked and twisted generation.
6 Do you thus repay the Lord,
    you foolish and senseless people?
This exactly describes the human condition. We claim one moral standard while continuously breaking it. Our relationship with God, as a Holy Father, has been broken by sin - both the sin you were born into, and the sin that you choose to commit. We claim we want justice when someone wrongs us, but what about when we have wrong a holy God? Fortunately the story doesn't end here. The chapter continues.
Is not he your father, who created you,
    who made you and established you?
7 Remember the days of old;
    consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
    your elders, and they will tell you.
God is a Father who certainly will avenge sin, but He's not looking for an opportunity to smack you upside the head. Instead, He is a loving Father, who made us, and is infinitely aware of our broken condition. Though He will punish the sin of the unrepentant, He is calling us to repentance patiently. 2 Peter 3 (ESV) says:
9. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
If you're reading this today, I urge you to consider that there is coming a day when all will answer to God. It's not worth it to try to manage your sin and foolishly try to argue Him into accepting you as you are. Instead, repent and come as you are. Let Him work on those parts of your being that you want to hide. It's time to come to your Father who loves you.

Success According to Jesus

The following is a reblog from Scotty Smothers, Pastor of Lone Hill Baptist Church, Poplar Bluff, MO.

Success According to Jesus

Francis Chan stated “If you want to grow a church numerically, the last person you would want to come preach, would be Jesus Christ”. I don’t 100% agree with that, but there is some validity within that statement. The point that he was making is that the teachings of our Lord run counter cultural by most individual’s standards. Most of us were told at a very young age that we needed to do what is best for ourselves in order to succeed in life. Of course, success is often measured by how far we advance in our careers, how many trinkets we have in our garage, or how many pairs of shoes we have in our closet. Unfortunately, the motives that drive that type of lifestyle often stem from a very egocentric mentality. Through our culture, we feel like we rightfully deserve any and everything that brings us self-gratification.

But Jesus has a different standard for success. To be successful in the eyes of our Lord, we need to become one of His followers. I think one of the greatest passages about what being a disciple looks likes, and what is expected from His followers is in the Gospel of Mark.

Jesus had acquired quite a following by this point in His ministry. There were some great benefits to being around Him. Many people were healed and there were thousands fed. But true to form, He could offend almost anyone.
Mark 8:34 (ESV)
"And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'"
This is not a prerequisite of salvation. If we occasionally deny ourselves some sort of selfish pleasure, like not eating the pastor's wife’s chocolate chip cookies, or we occasionally take up our cross, suffer a little bit, it does not mean that God will save us. This in fact, is the beautiful position that each of us are currently in once God does save us! This is what success looks like as a Christian. Not only the willingness but the desire to live a life that most would deem as radical.

Deny himself: This is not the denial of something, but someone. Oneself! This means you disown yourself. To turn away from idolatry. We don’t need to build a golden calf in our back yard to have an idol. Our idols are the things in our lives that we selfishly love more than God. Our idols are the things that give us more pleasure than God. And we are told to deny ourselves of this type of self-centeredness. We should desire to deny ourselves and submit our lives wholly to God’s will and not our own.

Take up his cross: Simply put-you will suffer because of your faith. The cross signifies suffering, death and commitment. Not all suffering is a cross. We know that everyone experiences suffering simply because we live in a fallen creation. Take up your cross means you experience suffering directly related to your faith in Christ. The cross also signifies commitment. Victims of the cross carried their cross to the place that they were to be executed. They were committed to the cross all the way to their deaths. Much the same way we are committed to the sufferings that we experience because of our faith. We are committed to taking up our cross, we are committed to dying to ourselves, in fact Luke states that we are to take up our cross daily, meaning that we are committed to die to ourselves and suffer for our faith daily.

Follow me: Follow Jesus. Emulate the life of Christ. Jesus denied himself, He submitted himself wholly to God’s will. He took up his cross. He suffered and literally died on the cross because of His commitment to God the Father.

Earlier I said this is the beautiful position that each of us are currently in once God saves us. I say beautiful because if we desire to deny the self-centered life, if we suffer because of our faith, and we have an eagerness to follow Jesus, then we live a successful Christian life. It is confirmation of who we are. I can’t help but think of Peter and the apostles in acts 5. They had just been beaten and left the council rejoicing because they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. That is a successful life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Refreshing Words

Deuteronomy 32 English Standard Version (ESV)
32 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
    and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2 May my teaching drop as the rain,
    my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
    and like showers upon the herb.
3 For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
    ascribe greatness to our God!
How often do we simply not listen to what the Lord wants to speak to us? It's a given that the people of the world, who do not know the Messiah, do not discern the word of the Lord, but it should be just as common for Christians to be known for discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Something I've taken upon myself to do in recent years is to become faithful for a daily "Quiet Time" spent with the Lord. By that I mean I meditate on His word and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking within me. If you do this also, He will speak to you. You will experience the refreshing words of our Lord that speak to your very core. There He will proclaim how great He is, which may sound a bit foreign if you're still spiritually immature. Think about it though. There is nothing better the Lord can give you than Himself. To speak of His own greatness aligns your purpose - your very reason for existence. From there all other things can find their place.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hey Cranky Pants

Today I find myself battling that same old anger. I've been angry with my wife. I've been angry with my son. I don't really want to talk to my best friend, because we work together, and I figure he's going to want something from me that I'm not ready to deliver yet. I've just flat been angry.

Something I identified at the "No Matter the Cost" men's retreat by Band of Brothers a few weeks back is that I've struggled with being angry, and it has caused me shame. It's something I laid down there, but was warned that shame tends to pop back up again. I suppose this is it.

Here's the deal. I get angry when I'm having trouble accepting my calling. The Lord has called me to be a worship leader-prophet. I am one who is to lead others into the presence of the Lord, and to deliver to them what the Lord has to say. This has real-world application in the unsaved world, as well as in the church...which makes sense, because I've always walked the line between a musician and outspoken person, between the world and the church.

Today, Father hit me up with the "verse of the day" from BibleGateway.com...which seemed all too convenient, so I tried to shrug it off.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
(1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT)
So, I suppose I must not only admit this, but follow it further and make application in my life.

Passage: 1 Peter 5 (NLT)
Advice for Elders and Young Men
1 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
 5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”[a]
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers[b] all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen. 
Peter’s Final Greetings
 12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas,[c] whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.
13 Your sister church here in Babylon[d] sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet each other with a kiss of love.
Peace be with all of you who are in Christ.
Footnotes:
a 5:5 Prov 3:34 (Greek version).
b 5:9 Greek your brotherhood.
c 5:12 Greek Silvanus.
d 5:13 Greek The elect one in Babylon. Babylon was probably symbolic for Rome.

It's worth noting that the "Advice for Elders and Young Men" was added into the New Living Translation as a way of helping to quickly gain context, but it was not in the original text. So, this text should not be interpreted as being exclusively applicable to only Elders within the Church, and "young men".

Do you think about the fact that if you're a child of God, there's an enemy that's daily looking for a way to entrap you? What about if you're not a "religious" person, and you don't know the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you think there might actually be an orchestrated effort behind the mess you call your life...an effort to keep you from knowing the truth, that there's actually a blueprint for your life? That there's more than a "man in the sky", but instead there's a real God, a loving Father, who is inviting you to live a life on His terms, because they're better than your own?

We were meant for more than this life. I love the words of Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, in the song "Meant to Live" (lyrics), when he sings "We want more than this world's got to offer..."

Christian, are you not in the same position as I am? Didn't God give you a small group of people whom you can speak into their lives? We are to willingly speak into their lives, not go about our daily tasks or job with a chip on our shoulder because your boss is an ass. She may very well be...but do what you need to do, because a bad attitude doesn't help anyone, and people may even perish because of it! If we're so eager to serve God, then it had better show up in the workplace. If you want a reward from God for your "good behavior", do something that matters in the here and now. Lord, help me!

We can't afford to be proud about this. My friend Stephen Adams speaks to my heart in his "I Was Just Thinking" podcast, episode 2, "We Are Jonah". We're on this journey together, and we need each other to fulfill the calling God has placed upon our lives. Let us be humble and honest about our frailty before God, man, and an enemy that wants to destroy us. Life is tough, and we often screw things up. We agree to do what God has called, turn back at times, refuse to obey, and then eventually get around to it. In this life, we suffer...sometimes from our own actions, sometimes for others', and often for reasons we simply don't know or understand right now.

Here's what you can take to the bank. God is aware of all of this! He's not surpised in the least. He knows your failings, and your pride, yet He calls us to repentance, and then to daily die to ourselves. If we will humble ourselves, we can begin to see that our Father is pursuing us because He loves us. He hasn't left us alone. If you've surrendered yourself to Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. Spend time with Him. Look at the example set by Jesus. God came in the flesh to demonstrate the sort of life we are to live, and so Jesus would be the "firstborn among many brothers" (See Romans 8:29). In fact, if you truly want to see how you fit into the bigger picture, go read the whole 8th chapter of the book of Romans.

Don't let this world and its mess get you down and cranky like I've been. God has a purpose in it, and it's good from a loving Father.