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30 Years of Memories-Rich Mullins

Posted on by Laura Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

30 Years of Memories-Rich Mullins

September 19th, 1997, Rich Mullins died in a car accident near Peoria, IL. Rich had been in concert for us three times over the years. Still today, much of his music rotates in our highest rotations library of music. Even gone, Rich is still sharing the Gospel in his unique way. During the last couple years of Rich’s life he had moved to Window Rock, Arizona, to teach music o Navajo children. He had taken a vow to live the lifestyle of the average wage in America and had no information about all the financial results of his music career, leaving that to others. Rich Mullins was more than a musician who wrote song lyrics, he was a ‘thinker’ of the Gospel who was transparent about his struggles with and the wonder of God’s Love. A good weekend read might be Rich’s biography written by James Bryan Smith, An Arrow Pointing to Heaven. The Rich Mullins of our first concert with him in 1990 was not the same Rich Mullins in his last in 1996. Smith’s book narrates Rich’s Gospel journey.

Another one of the things that he did was to write a monthly column for Release Magazine. I stumbled across a couple of those in my desk recently and I thought it might be interesting and perhaps trigger memories of one of CCM’s most influential artists if we reprinted one of those articles. This appeared in the fall issue of Release in 1993. It’s a true story of Rich living in at attic in a friend’s house in Wichita, Kansas. My favorite picture of Rich that we have from one of his concerts was him barefooted, a diet Coke sitting next to his feet, a pair of frayed blue jeans, and wearing a white wrinkled t-shirt. That was Rich. Common, no pretense, no wasted words. This short column fits his image: a hammer, nails, his room a mess.

‘My new apartment is in the attic of Jim and Megan’s house. It’s a big old one-roomer with a mind of its own – a cacophony of lines that occur at approximately 45 to 90 degree angles, with floors that sort of redefine ‘level.’ This attic has its own idea of what ‘square’ means; its studs have their own interpretation of the classic 24-inch on center.

Its walls are loosely vertical and the whole thing is about two weeks away from being much more than a lot of potential. Right now it is resistant to change – openly hostile to my ideas of what it ought to be. But slowly, surely, occasionally even patiently, I am (with the help of some friends, a hammer, a saw, some nails and a wrecking bar) enlightening it, changing its self-concept, convincing it that it is not merely an ugly, old attic – it’s a great space full of promise and beauty and order and life.

I suspect that it wants to cooperate, but it’s hard and I must be patient. Whoever it was that shaped the attic before me did so with some pretty big nails, deep cuts, hard hammers and rough saws. The considered the attic to be a wasted space – distance between the roof and the ceiling – a buffer zone and not much else. Someone else came along and closed it in for a smoking room; a place for ignoble activities that would be inappropriate in the ‘house proper.’ They slopped over the walls with cheap, nasty paneling and put in a bathroom, covered the floors with ugly carpet and stunk it up with a tobacco habit.

Sometimes in the heat of the toil of my labor I give in to fits of self rage –frustration more over my lack of skill than over my apartment’s progress. But, late at night when I look over the piles of dust and drywall and the knee-deep debris that remain during this reconstructive effort, I am strangely moved by the place and I proclaim the Gospel to it softly. I say, ‘I know how it hurts to be torn up. I am often choked on the litter left by my own remodeling. I know what it’s like to settle (by the grave act of a strong will) into the despair of believing that you are wasted space. I have felt the blows of heavy hammers that nailed me to a sense of uselessness. I have been shaped by some pretty careless workers who came to the task of making me and lacked any craftsmanship or artistry. I know the pain of wanting to be changed and yet distrustful of changes, of wanting to be worked on, but being suspicious of the intentions of the Worker. But here is some good news: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. However messy it may be now, however confusing and scary it appears, however endless the task may seem, we will someday be glorious, beautiful, alive! There is much tearing out to do – a lot to give up. No thin coat of new paint, no shallow, petty piety will do. It’s not good to cover up imperfection, it must be corrected. Art, beauty, functions – these things take time. They may take until the day of Christ Jesus.

But we are not wasted space, we are temples of a Being greater than ourselves, temples being built to be inhabited and brought to life. Though we may not understand the process, our Rebuilder does. We are His workmanship and the place where He lives. Little attic, do not despair! I’m being made by a Master Carpenter. I’m learning a little about building, too.’

September Newsletter-Bed

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“For the bed is shorter than a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower than he can wrap himself in it.” Isaiah 28:20

There are a lot of things that go on in our lives, most either make us happy or make us sad. In this letter I’m going to talk about something that makes us uncomfortable. Occasionally, while sleeping I find my feet out from under the covers, or maybe the whole blanket falls off the bed and the chill wakes me up. Isaiah’s scripture identifies old fashioned restlessness: the bed too short, blanket too small for rest. I sometimes wonder why, even when things seem to be going well, I can find little rest. I think the back story is we’re not home; truly we’re never at home this side of Glory. Paul called it being ‘strangers and pilgrims’ on the earth. Much of the restlessness occurs because you and I are ‘spirit critters’; however, we’re spiritual critters tethered to the earth. Ultimately our soul and spirit spend much time tugging against the twine that holds us here. That struggle reminds me of how important it is to think about our tomorrow, rather than spending all our time trying to fix everything about today or being sorry for yesterday. A word you hear all over the internet is ‘woke’. We hear of people, seemingly for the first time, being ‘woke’. Earthly ‘wokeness’, by its very nature is incomplete, it’s a limited new awareness.

Before our spirits were ‘quickened’ we were ‘born of the flesh’. Upon being ‘woke’ of God, we kindled a ‘Life of the Spirit’. To experience Life as the Father prepared for us, we need to be made alive unto God. Otherwise, we can simply live our lives and not experience the Life God purposed for each of us. Miraculously, with woke, our spirits get changed all at once, come alive, but our ‘souls’ drag their feet, get changed gradually. Changing of our soul is the program between the time we spent on earth and our stepping into Heaven. That division, spirit and soul, is what causes much of our uneasiness.

Acts 4:32 confirms that our heart and soul are two separate entities; they’re not the same thing. Recognizing the struggle between each is an early step to understanding our restlessness and finding our cure. We have to identify both as part of our lives but also separate. Jesus taught that we would need to love the Lord (1) with all your heart, with (2) all your soul…. (Matt. 22:37) John’s scriptural wish was, above all, that our lives would be prosperous: be prosperous in health, and that our souls would prosper. (3John1:2) When we became alive to the spirit, each of us became, more than ever before, a house divided. According to Jesus, a house divided cannot stand (establish itself). (Matt. 12:25) We’re purposed, in God’s heart, to be ‘ruled by the Spirit of God’ rather than remain that old ‘born of the flesh’ creature. However, that old creature doesn’t want to give up its position as the ‘ruler’ of our lives. To unbelievers, Jesus said he came to bring peace, not division. To believers Jesus said he came to divide, exposing the conflict between the soul and the spirit. We know what happened with Adam and Eve. They were not deceived by the apple tree but by the war between their spirit and their soul (mind, will and emotions). They were thinking, their soul reasoned, the wrong thing about God. God’s ‘don’t’ became simply a symbol of God holding out on them. The playground of Satan was found in their souls, between their ears, not in the apple. By contrast, we know the ‘last Adam’ (Jesus) was tempted in all things; yet the Spirit ruled in Him. In Jesus, his soul was present, he became flesh, but his soul was submissive to the Spirit.

Adam’s consciousness thinking was dominated by the following order: body, soul, and spirit. That’s the natural, raw, earthly order of fleshly people. In Jesus, the proper order was established: spirit, soul, and body (1Thes. 5:23). “The first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). Our soul is not to be broken or destroyed; it’s not an evil thing. Our mind, will and emotions are a gift from God, a part of His sophisticated creation. Our minds can create wonderful, beautiful thoughts. Our wills help us set goals as we move in the direction discovering Life as the Father would have it for us. Our emotions make the marriage between love and compassion possible. Only when the soul is separated from the Love of God, does it become putrid with selfishness. Our soul needs to be trained to follow our spirit rather than it being our leader.

Our soul is comprised of our mind (our understanding), will (our determination), and emotion (our five senses). Merismos is a biblical Greek word meaning distinction between the soul and the spirit. It refers to separating and is useful to describe the necessity of dividing, in a good sense, soul and spirit.(Heb. 4:12) Christians are not actually at war with either. However, merismos is necessary to help us define, not two enemies, but two different lifestyles. We don’t have to kill the one (mind, will and emotions) to experience the other (spirit life) but we’ll have to learn separate them and identify which one should dominate in our lives. James 1:21 makes clear Christians need to be aware of the ‘saving of the soul’. It’s the metamorphous (changing) taught in Romans 12:2. It’s about the renewing of our minds.

What we must have is a distinction between our hearts and our heads, a separation between our spirit and our thinking. Paul admits to being the kind of person that did what he did not want to do and also guilty of not doing the things that he wished to do. That’s the tugging that’s still present in us today; that tugging keeps us ‘rest-less’ and uncomfortable. We’re living in a bed that’s too short and under a blanket that’s too narrow. Enlightened by the Spirit of God, we’ve been re-created to be comfortable when our spirit rules and simultaneously uncomfortable when our soul rules over us.

As new creatures in Christ, our choice isn’t between two natures (sin and divine); it’s a choice between two lives, His or ours. How many of our prayers start in our heads instead of our hearts. Most of our conflicts are not caused by Satan, rather most are our flesh ruling and reigning instead of our spirits. The expression ‘666’ in the Revelation of John refers to man doing the very best man can do for man. The best man can perform in all three areas of life: body, soul, and spirit. That’s where the world is going right now. Medicine, technology and false religions all are the best man can do for man. It tries to cover an itch which it can’t relieve. They’re our own creations to try and put us at ease. But the closer we get to the ‘best’ we can create for ourselves the less comfort we find. In our restlessness, our spirits know that that kind of life isn’t the best we can experience.

If you follow the biblical Greek text you’ll find that Jesus referenced laying down his life (the actual Greek word used is psuche). That life laid down wasn’t identifiable to his biological life, although he did do that. It was about his ‘soulish life’. Jesus teaches unless we lay down our (psuche) life, we will not find Life as the Father has prepared it for us (Matt. 16:24, Isa. 53:10). We need to be persuaded that what He has started with our ‘wokeness’, He can likewise perform in us. (Rom. 4-21, Phil. 1-6). ‘Separation for clarification’ is an expression I heard years ago to illustrate the Word’s ability to divide the things of our heart and the things of our mind, will, and emotions. The Word is powerful, sharp and able to divide soul and spirit. (Heb. 4-12) Our feeling that we’re never at home is part of being ‘a new creature’; it’s natural; it’s good for clarification. ‘Restlessness’ is buried deep in our hearts and it’s created and placed in us as a guard for our hearts so that we can evaluate what our ‘treasure’ is. It causes us, by the very nature of restlessness, to never find comfort in the things of this world. That restlessness, once we begin to understand the distinction between our spirit and our soul can be cured. Trusting in Christ is that cure. Resting in Him is our remedy.

Being wanderers causes us to discover the only peace we ‘get to experience’ is His Peace. Trusting that Jesus is who he said he was and did what He said He did. It’s not only a trust for what He will do for us, but a trust that He will finish what He has started in us. I’ve only had the pleasure of sleeping in a king sized bed a couple of times, but it was wonderful compared to what is like to sleep on a couch with a lap afghan. Our lives can find that difference by the spirit that lives in us.

We Are Messengers NEW DATE!

Posted on by Laura Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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