My faith heroes (part4)

Rich Mullins

Richard Mullins was born on October 21, 1955.  He became a singer and songwriter.  He is best known for his praise choruses “Awesome God” and “Step by Step.  Taking a vow of poverty, he set up a team of advisers to handle his finances. He made hundreds of thousands of dollars through album sales and royalties, but Rich only ever saw a fraction of that money.  He didn’t know what his music and career were worth, and didn’t want to know.  The profits from his tours and the sale of each album were divided up.  He was paid a yearly salary —it was something in the mid $20,000 range, equivalent at that stage to that of a average american salary — and the rest went to various charities.

From 1991 to 1995, his career took off.  During this time he was a 36 year old college student.  Upon graduating from college, he moved to a Native American reservation in New Mexico, near the Arizona border, where he taught music to kids in the local school.

In 1993, Mullins assembled a group of musicians to form A Ragamuffin Band.  In the early 1990s, Mullins released a pair of albums entitled The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume One and Two.  He did not however consider his music his primary ministry, but rather a means to pay his bills.  Instead, his ministry was the way he treated his neighbors, family and enemies.

Often barefoot, unshaven, and badly in need of a haircut, he was very much at home among the ungodly, and unafraid to name his own sin and inadequacies in public,  Rich hated the limelight. His typical concert uniform was jeans (with holes in the knees) and a t-shirt. No shoes. No socks.  Rich was what you could describe as “untidy”.  While he was alive, he had a fondness for cigarettes, light beer, and the occasional dirty word.

In 1997, Mullins teamed up with Beaker and Mitch McVicker to write a musical based on the life of Francis of Assisi, entitled The Canticle of the Plains. Mullins had great respect for Francis of Assisi, and even formed “The Kid Brothers of St. Frank” in the late 1980s with several friends.

On September 19, 1997, Mullins and his passenger, Mitch McVicker, were thrown out of Mullins’ jeep when it flipped over on Interstate 39 north of Bloomington, Illinois. Neither Mullins nor McVicker wore a seat belt; McVicker was seriously injured but survived and recovered. Mullins died when run over by a tractor-trailer swerving to avoid the Jeep.

What Rich Mullins did for me.  During the time that I began to read the books of Brennan Manning, I discovered Rich Mullins.  He challenged my believes about who Jesus was.  He showed me the humanity of Jesus.  Through his eyes, I got another look at my Savior.  How exactly does a godly life look like?  Jesus was probably the best example of a Godly life here on earth.  And yet, while Jesus was alive, He was a man of no reputation.  Jesus did not have a home.  Jesus loved the ungodly.  I saw a Jesus who disappointed people’s expectations about God.  What did my expectations look like?  Furthermore, Rich lived what he believed.  He shied away from the limelight.  That in turn challenged me.  Could I shy away from attention?  Can I be a light to the world and at the same time not be seen?  Rich Mullins made Jesus very real to me.  For that, I will always thank him.

Quote from “You did not have a home”. 

“But the world won’t find what it thinks it wants on the back of an ass’ foal” So I guess You had to get sold
‘Cause the world can’t stand what it can’t own
And it can’t own You ‘Cause You did not have a home

Here are a few lyrics from Rich.

Nothing Is Beyond You

Where could I go, where could I run
Even if I found the strength to fly
And if I rose on the wings of the dawn
And crashed through the corner of the sky
If I sailed past the edge of the sea
Even if I made my bed in Hell
Still there You would find me
‘Cause nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
Time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
Death has lost its sting
And I cannot explain the way
You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
If I should shrink back from the light
So I can sink into the dark
If I take cover and I close my eyes
Even then You would see my heart
And You’d cut through all my pain and rage
The darkness is not dark to You
And night’s as bright as day Nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
And time cannot contain You
You fill eternity Sin can never stain You
And death has lost its sting
And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You.

Man of No Reputation

It was said this man was of no reputation
Yet He could stop the rising storm
With a gesture of His hand
But He chose to use His hands to heal
Hearts of darkness, hearts of stone
Just like mine would be revealed
He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When He spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled
But this man of no reputation
Loved the weak with relentless affection
And He loved all those poor in spirit just as they were
He was a man of no reputation
It was said this man brought only confusion
That He’d achieve his ends by any means
And the truth that it brings revolution
And for once they were right
The truth set us free
The hearts of the captive were his only concern
And the powerful knew their days were ending
He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When He spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled
But this man of no reputation
Loved the weak with relentless affection
And He loved all those poor in spirit just as they were
He was a man of no reputation
One day soon the gates of heaven will open wide
And the Prince of Peace will come back for His bride
But for now we live on these streets
Forbidding and tough
Where push always comes to shove
And it’s said love’s never enough
Where a prophet in rags gives hope to a fearful world
No injustice, no heart of darkness
Will keep this voice from being heard
He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When He spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled
But this man of no reputation
Loves us all with relentless affection
And He loves all those poor in spirit, come as you are
To the man of no reputation.

You Did Not Have A Home

Oh, You did not have a home
There were places You visited frequently
You took off Your shoes and scratched Your feet
‘Cause you knew that the whole world belongs to the meek
But You did not have a home
No, You did not have a home And You did not take a wife
There were pretty maids all in a row
Who lined up to touch the hem of Your robe
But You had no place to take them, so You did not take a wife

No, You did not take a wife
Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
No, You did not have a home
Well you had no stones to throw
You came without an ax to grind
You did not tow the party line

No wonder sight came to the blind
You had no stones to throw
You had no stones to throw
And You rode and ass’ foal
They spread their coats and cut down palms
For You and Your donkey to walk upon
But the world won’t find what it thinks it wants
On the back of an ass’ foal
So I guess You had to get sold
‘Cause the world can’t stand what it can’t own
And it can’t own You ‘Cause You did not have a home
Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man

No, You did not have a home
Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
And the world can’t stand what it can’t own
And it can’t own You
‘Cause You did not have a home.

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The one who did not obey.

I am fascinated by this story.  It probably looked something like this.

“I am a leper and a Samaritan.  That may not mean a lot to you, but to me, it means that I am an outcast.  Leprosy is one of those dreaded illnesses that cuts you off from everybody that you love.  How I long to be touched again.  To be whole.  I lost my left hand after hot cooking oil fell on it.  I did not notice it immediately.  My left eye is blind.  I have no idea why.  I lost a few toes due to rats in the night, because I cannot feel sensations.  I wish I could feel pain again.  Just the other day, I stepped on a glowing coal and did not even notice it.

Luckily I am in a community now.  There are 10 of us.  Not all of us have leprosy; some have a skin disease that resembles leprosy, but that is another story.  We make turns to stay awake during the night to make sure those damn rats stay away from those of us who are trying to sleep.  My best friend’s name is John.  He looks a lot worse that I do.  I look out for him.  As I’ve said, I am a Samaritan.  A second class citizen.  The other 9 guys are Jews.  That means that most of them look down at me.  Luckily John is a true friend.

We cannot come near people.  It is the law.  That means we are constantly being chased away.  I can describe it as speed shuffling, because movement is not our best attribute.  People use us as “scary children stories”, telling their children to behave or they will end up like us.  It’s a lonely life.  When people come near us we have to shout ”unclean, unclean” in order to warn them away.  We spend most of our days begging.  It’s not really living, but then again you have to make the best with what you have, otherwise you would get off your rocker.

The last few days however, something has changed in our little group.  We have heard of a wild man, actually healing people.  His name is Jesus.  First, we though it was just plain silly rumors.  A cruel joke, played on us.  Over time however, the rumors persisted and we have begun to find hope again.  We have even started to make plans to get close to Him.  Not too close though.

Today is the day!  We heard someone say that He is coming this way.  Our plans are ready.  There is only one place where He could enter the village.  We even practiced our shouting.  We hear some noise coming.  Some of the people want us to bugger off, but we stand our ground.  Ha! Let them take the long way round for a change.

Yes, there He is.  OK guys, we’ve practiced this, 1, 2, 3…”Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!!!!!  Damn, it did not sound as good as when we practiced.  Hey look, He noticed us.  He is coming closer.  Again guys…”Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!!!!!  Much better.  He doesn’t look much like a holy man. Oh well.

“Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  Go and show ourselves?  But we are not healed!  We are NOT freakin healed!!  I try not to show my disappointment.  So much for hope.  But He said we must go, and we will obey Him.  His eyes were smiling when He said that.  Maybe He will call us back.  No, it doesn’t seem like He is going to.  This is going to be embarrassing.  I wonder what the priests are going to do to us when we get there.  We will probably be banished far, far away.  Hey, wait a minute.  I am a Samaritan.  I’ll be lucky to get out of this alive!

Ouch!  I just stepped on a stone.  What’s wrong with this picture?  I can feel pain.  I have toes?  I….can….see….my….toes.  My left eye is working again.  I touch my face.  My hand is back!  Look John!  Fingers!  Look, the others are also healed.  There is a shocked silence and suddenly we do not know what we have to do with ourselves.  And then the dams burst.  Some explode into tears.  Others begin to laugh.  We hug each other.  It is confusion mixed up with chaos.  We can touch and we are being touched.  Through the tears I see John jumping up and down, up and down.  I dive him to the ground.  We lie there laughing.  After a while, we begin to calm down.  Then one of us smirks and we all burst into laughter.  This is unbelievable.  Too good to be true.  I pinch myself.  Nope, I am awake.

After a while John stands up and tells the group.  “Just one more thing guys.  We have to show ourselves to the priests.  I cannot wait to see the looks on their faces.”  The priests?  I have not thought about them.  “John, the priests can wait.  I have to thank Jesus.  I have to find Him.”  John comes over to me.  “He told us to go and show ourselves to the priests.  It’s the law.  He TOLD us to go.  If you disobey Him, you might even become sick again.”  “But John, we are healed!  We do not need the priests to tell us that.  How many times have you met somebody like Jesus?  Well?  Well, I am NOT going to let Him slip through my fingers!  Fingers, John.  LOOK John.  SEE.  I know He commanded us to go.  But I want Him first.  After I thanked Him, I will go.  But Him first.  Come with me, John.”  “This is because you are a Samaritan,” mutters one of the others.  “You do not value the law as we do.”  John hesitates.  He sighs.  “No, we will obey Him.  We will obey the law.  You do what you want to do, but our ways separate here.”  I hug him one last time.  “I’m sorry, but I must find Him.  Thanks for everything John.”

This hurts like hell.  Saying goodbye to a friend.  He wants to obey Jesus.  I just want Jesus.

Luk 17:15  Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;
Luk 17:16  and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Luk 17:17  Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?
Luk 17:18  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Luk 17:19  And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

tenlepers

Things unfair

If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables – of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles, and most of all, things unfair. ~ Madame Jeanne Guyon

All I can say is “WOW!”

This is from Terry Pratchett. 

It’s a popular fact that 90% of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong. Not even the most stupid Creator would go to the trouble of making the human head carry around several pounds of unnecessary grey goo if its only real purpose was, eg, to serve as a delicacy for certain remote tribesmen in unexplored valleys, it is used. One of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary, and turn the unusual into the usual. Otherwise, human beings, forced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing a stupid grin, saying “WOW” a lot. Part of the brain exists to stop this happening. It is very efficient, and can make people experience boredom in the middle of marvels.

I’m beginning to say “WOW” a lot.  Jesus definitely knows how to mess with 100% of my brain. 🙂 Must be why I cannot figure Him out.  Damn.  “Oh wow,” look there…