Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ragamuffin

About 10 years ago, I had a pretty heavy infatuation with the band Caedmon's Call and one of their chief song writers Derek Webb.  I continue to be highly influenced by Andrew Peterson, a singer/songwriter who is a highly gifted writer and performer.  If I was to reflectively traverse backwards into the deepest echoes of my mind, I believe I would find that Derek and Andy have served as pillars to my much of my personal/philosophical/epistemological foundation.   (Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Mike Ness of Social D are probably pretty thick back in there as well, so most of the time, I like to leave the caves to the spiders, bats, and sparrows).

Early on in my obsessions with Derek and Andy, they both often cited Rich Mullins as one of their most important influences.  Naturally, I checked out some of his music and writings.  Turns out Rich Mullins was a one in a million, modern-day prophet who seems to have grasped - and most importantly lived - the message of Jesus better than most.

Over the holidays I was visiting my folks house and my mother was cleaning out her home library.  In a cluttered pile on her kitchen table was an old copy of Rich Mullins biography An Arrow Pointing to Heaven.  It is a truly remarkable story and contains many of the most profound and powerful quotes from Rich's writings, speeches, and concerts. I read it many years ago and it became the seminal work of Christian thought in my mind (yes, I know...seminal is a rather dramatic word...but it has been that important to me in my faith).  I started re-reading it this past week and it may mean more to me know than it did back then.

Here are two powerful quotes that I have picked up thus far.  

     To a group of Christian Writers:
     I would like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you're doing as          ministry.  Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toilet or not.  Your ministry is the way you love people.  And you love people when you write something that is encouraging to them, something challenging.  You love people when you call your wife and say, "I'm going to be late for dinner," instead of letting her burn the meal.  You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife sometime because you know she's really tired.  Loving people - being respectful toward them - is much more important than writing or doing ministry (or being a professor or doing the business of higher education...)...if you are a Christian, ministry is just an accident of being alive.  It just happens.  And I don't know that you can divide your life up and say, "This is my ministry" and "This is my other thing," because the fruits of Christianity affect everybody around us. (175)


The biggest problem with life is that it's just daily.  You can never get so healthy that you don't have to continue to eat right.  Because every day I have to make the right choices about what I eat and how much exercise I need.  Spiritually we're in much the same place.  I go on these binges where it's like "I'm going to memorize the five books of Moses."  I expect to be able to live off the momentum.  The only thing that praying today is good for is today.'s not what you did, and not what you say you're going to do, it's what you do today. (28)


Be excellent to each other,