Faith and Learning Lecture Series, Guest Speaker - Rich Mullins
Friends University, Wichita, KS, 13 Apr 95 (Maundy Thursday)
How do you describe the ministry of Rich Mullins to someone who's never heard him?. Every time I hear him speak, I go away thinking to myself, "Now I understand, but then again, I already knew that." Rich has such an incredible ability to reveal the simple things in life and faith. So who more appropriate to speak on the subject of faith and learning. Rich pretty much just sang and played and ministered; and made us laugh. This is laid out just as Rich presented it. He'd make a few comments, and then sing to us. This is what I caught...
Sing Your Praise To The Lord-
This is Rich's second attempt at college. His first attempt was financed by working at a parking garage. This time around he was able to pay for college with the royalties from this song, which Amy Grant recorded. Now if he can just pass algebra, he'll graduate. :-) He says Amy messed it up the first time, so he would play it right. :-) Just for the record, the difference between his arrangement and Amy's was the bridge. It was a little slower, had different progressions, and much more emotion.
This is a song his record company wouldn't let him record. He always wanted to be a country singer, and this song was one of his country songs. Someday he's gonna produce his own album so he can record it. [ed. note: This song was later released on Brother's Keeper.]
Ready For The Storm-
Rich didn't write this song [Dougie MacLean wrote it], but he wishes he had. Sometimes you will hear something in a song that the composer never intended; that's how it was for Rich on this song. That's why, he says, he never pays much attention to lyrics when writing a song. :-) [Right at the beginning of the song he stumbled a little bit on the lyrics. At times when I sing/play, and make a mistake, I'll just tell myself, "it's OK, I'm not a professional (at least, not anymore)". It's always interesting to me (and encouraging) to know that they (professionals) mess up sometimes, too.]
We Are Not As Strong
People think if you write religious stuff, it's because you never fell in love. Rich rights love songs *because* he fell in love (with Jesus). Beaker and he wrote this love song and forgot to record it. :-) The song was about our separation from God, and how we really need him. [ed. note: This song was later released on Songs.]
Do you ever get tired of being told to believe in yourself. Society tells us this all the time, and Rich just doesn't buy it. We're given the impression that we pretty hot stuff. We get toothpaste ads shoved down our throats, and Rich wonders, if he's so hot, why does he need fluoride. :-) We get hungry because there's food. We need other people because they're there. And we feel a need to believe in something because God has revealed himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. While reading through the Bible, he found that God only wants for him want he wants for himself. Of all the place he's looked to place his faith, only God has never changed, and has the consistency and faithfulness.
When he wrote this song, he was so sure it would be popular, that he went out and bought a house. :-) Why was he so sure? Because it's about what people want to believe. "By the way, the song sounds a lot better if you sing the chorus. After all, you got in here free; you might as well do some work."
Calling Out Your Name-
He started playing the dulcimer because when he was in Nashville, he knew right away he wasn't going to make it as a guitar player or a piano player. So he wanted to learn something no one else played. There still isn't a lot of demand for it, though. :-)
Today he was doing mostly requests, but a lot of times, he never gets a request for something he really likes, so he picked this song. This song is about those weird phrases that dad's say (like - big boys don't cry, this is gonna hurt me more than it does you, am I going to have to stop this car?, etc.) He says they must whisk dads off to a secret hiding place whenever they find out they're going to have children and teach them this stuff. :-) He just read the book "Orthodoxy" by Chesterton, and thinks that this is possibly the second most important book next to the Bible. So we better read it, cause Jesus is coming back soon and there's going to be a test. :-) This song doesn't really have anything to do with the book, but he and Beaker stole a line from it, and he just felt like confessing. After all it is Maundy Thursday.
He figures people probably think he is disorganized, and he probably is. He had been trying to think of something really profound and meaningful to say. The problem is as a writer, you are in love with saying things, not in what you say. You just like to talk. "And you know, I just can't believe you don't already know the important stuff"." (For this writer, this statement came back to me, and was extremely meaningful; I'll explain later.) God loves us, and sin separates us. Is that old fashioned? Necking is old fashioned, and you don't hear people saying, "I don't want to neck, that's old fashioned!" We just need to get more in touch with ideas that have been around for a long time. Jesus is the Lamb of God. We're not going to find things like that in college, or as a Republican, or anyplace else. It only comes from God. This is a Faith and Learning lecture, and he just wonders; how can you learn anything without faith? Paul said, three things remain; faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. We just can't love without God. God wants for us want we want for ourselves. These basic things are not that hard to grasp. we just have to have faith, and faith is a gift. We just need to accept it.
Sometimes By Step - closing
I should first say that I got up after only four hours of sleep to go see Rich. I had gotten in at 4am, from driving to see PFR, Brent Bourgeois, and Jars of Clay the night before at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK. So I was already on a high from seeing them and getting to visit with them, and then hanging around to help them load out. (but that's a-whole-nother story). I had taken these couple days off before Easter so I could do all this extra curricular stuff. So, while I was driving home from seeing Rich, I was kind of in a daze. I got to thinking about what Rich said about us already knowing the important stuff. I get to see lots of Christian artists in Wichita (or close to Wichita), and I have a neat church, and a really cool CCM radio station (KTLI Light 99), and go to other Christian events, and save all the booklets I get from Sunday School classes, etc. It's like I'm always looking for something new and profound. Now with Rich moving from Wichita, all of a sudden I feel real possessive, like "Hey, you can't leave. You belong to Wichita." Now, however, I feel like I'm OK with him going. I'd be shocked if this was the first time anyone ever compared Rich to St. Paul before, but I really believe that must have been what Paul said to the people of the churches on his missionary trips. They probably didn't want him to leave either, but he would say, "Hey, you don't need me anymore, you've got everything you need now. You already know the important stuff. God loves you. He sent His only Son for you, and He died for you, that you might be saved. The only thing you have do is believe it." I guess sometimes though life just gets weird and we forget, and we need reminded. And when we're remind by someone in such a loving and gentle way, it creates a desire to hear more from that person, and to be with that person more. I guess that's why, while driving home, I got a sudden urge to go see my wife. So instead of driving home to spend the rest of the day writing up my PFR review or starting on this (or taking a nap - I was so tired!), I drove to the school were she works, and just hung out with her for a while and then we went to lunch. Nothing special, just spending time. Thanks for letting me ramble. - Danl