Awed By God

Calendar Magazine Winter 1988/1989

Chicago O'Hare Airport: "Now announcing, United flight 756 to Nashville is cancelled due to hazardous tornado conditions." Singer/songwriter Rich Mullins, bleary-eyed and a bit frumpled after a long stint of concerts, steps off a flight from Grand Rapids. In four hours he'll attend a party held in his honor by his Nashville-based record company, Reunion Records, to celebrate his second #1 radio hit. The monotone voice repeats the flight cancellation and Rich realizes that no flight is departing for Nashville...

No problem. Accustomed to winging it, Rich sleeps on the floor of the airport and takes the first flight to Nashville the next day. He grins as he steps off the plane and says, 'Did you save any cake for me?" Rich's affinity for adventure and boyish spontaneity make talking to him, listening to his music or attending his concert difficult to forget. Rich is obviously adaptable, but the unique spin on Mullins is that he's also wise.

It's no surprise that Rich has written two #1 songs, 1987's "Verge Of A Miracle" and the more recent, 'Awesome God." His songs, born out of real.life experiences, strike a universal chord in all of us moving us to actively pursue God In the eighties.

Rich's self-penned songs on Winds of Heaven...Stuff of Earth, his latest Reunion Records release, were born out of time spent in Thailand helping farmers dig septic tanks and plant fruit trees; they're colored by his experiences in the U.S. helping the American Indian; they're enhanced by the volumes of Kirkegaard philosophy he's ingested; and they're validated by his commanding knowledge of the Scriptures.

Rich received his first national recognition as the creative mind behind Amy Grant's "Sing Your Praise To The Lord," nominated for Song Of the Year in 1982.

Today, he bas penned 29 of the 30 songs on his three albums. His most recent release, Winds of Heaven...Stuff of Earth, is described as "reflecting Mullins global journey: featurlng mandolins, fiddles, dulcimers as well as the ever-present synthesizers for the mix that is old world and contemporary." (Davy Courier News, Elgin, IL, September 14, 1988)

For the past three months, Rich and his band have performed concerts across the United States. Both old and young listeners enjoy his simple and straightforward manner as he performs songs including the folk song, "If I Stand," the pop tune "Such A Thing As Glory," and the simple hymn "Awesome God." During this song audience members usually break into a soft and tender a acapella chorus. "'Awesome God' creates a magic moment," says Rich. "It reminds you that this world is not your home. The Lord is working and we are affected."

Rich talks conversationally to the crowd during performances. He often takes a swig from his jug of mineral water between tunes, and he may even wander off stage during the show in search alone of the nine musical Instruments he plays. The performer is truly down-to-earth and simplistic in his approach to life, How appropriate that he sings of simple truth.

During Rich's recent travels to Guatemala and his three-month tour of the U.S., he discovered a simple truth about action. The common thread that runs through his experiences is learning the importance of being a proactive and not a reactive Christian. He admits that he's wasted a lot of energy in the past by taking action based on his own emotional reaction rather than on God's direction. He is learning that its not a matter of taking action, but of taking appropriate action.

"We don't need any more nice people who are content doing nice things. What we really need are solid, spirit controlled people who are willing to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Nice people don't want to get involved."

"While people were being packed into trains and carried to concentration camps, nice people did what they were told, went to their jobs and collected their pay. It's not nice to protest the murdering of babies or nuclear war," continues Rich. "And nice people certainly don't rock the boat by interrupting engrossing conversation at a dinner party to talk about Jesus."

Rich compares being "conformed" and being "transformed." He states, "You usually think of combating 'conforming to the lower nature' with action. You know, staying away from dirty movies and raunchy music, resisting letting people pressure you into things, and basically fleeing the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life But you don't as readily associate action and a lot of hard work with 'transformation by the renewing of your mind'. Concerned Christians should focus not on 'doing' but on 'renewing' by studying the Scriptures and seeking God."

According to Rich, transforming your mind, like getting in shape, requires consistent hard work. You pay careful attention to working out, avoiding certain foods, and getting proper rest. "Transforming our minds requires practicing loving, solitude, and devotion," says Rich.

"There are things I would rather not deal with. It's easier to ignore the gravity of life, to be lazy and unchallenged and cool towards people. But transformation means coming into an awareness that God is the head of the church and the direction giver. It's taking on the ministry we were called to do and being used the way he wants to use us."

Rich uses the Bible story of Mary and Martha to illustrate both the proactive and reactive Christian that he discusses. When Jesus visited the home of the two women, Martha busied herself by scurrying around and preparing a meal to serve Him. Mary, on the other hand, sat at the Masters feet and listened. Mary chose the better thing.

"The key is making yourself available to Him and putting yourself in a place where the spirit can work in your life," says Rich, adding, "God is not pleased with the talented, or the doer or the musician...but with the faithful."

This month, he returns to his new home in Wichita, Kansas, where he recently moved to be in a church where "people are concerned and expect the best of me." He leads worship, preaches on occasion, and helps with an enthusiastic youth group.

"The reason I'm a Christian is not because someone sang to me or preached to me, but because someone loved me and proved I was of worth. My wish is that I can love more than I can sing or preach."



Copyright 1989 by Calendar Magazine


Thanks go to Eric Townsend and his webpage,
Rich Mullins: Never Picture Perfect, for sharing this article with COYN.


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