Write me into your story

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Note: This post from an older incarnation of my blog popped up today under Facebook’s “On This Day” feature. It’s hard to believe another nine years have passed since I wrote it in 2007. I hope you don’t mind a little trip through the archives as we remember the life of Rich Mullins.

Christianity isn’t about being self-sacrificing – it’s about being self-forgetting. Forget yourself once in a while, and open your eyes. Focus on this big, beautiful world God has made. If you walk to school, learn to identify every plant that you pass on the way. At night, learn to identify every constellation in the sky. Get to know birds by their feathers, flight patterns and songs. It’s a big world – and it reflects the character of God.

People who become self-centered lose contact with the outside world. They spend all their time and energy worrying about bad grades, or unfriendly friends, or mean parents. Forget about those things once in a while, and allow yourself to become involved in the lives of people who have equally bad situations. Open up and let other people matter to you.

When we take a bigger view of things, God will give us more grace and love for others. We’ll find ourselves responding to the needs and to the goodness; we’ll find ourselves angered by injustice to others.

And we’ll have a bigger appreciation of even small things, like the smell of a wet dog on a mucky day. Let go of yourself – and God will show you a whole new world.

(from Campus Life, June 1991)

More grace. More love. Fascination with the wonders of creation. Anger at injustice. Responsive to the needs of others. All are part of worship in the broadest sense. All are characteristic of the life of Rich Mullins, who died 10 years ago today in a car accident en route to a benefit show in Kansas.

Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins

I barely knew of Mullins while he was alive. His career was beginning as I was going into college and away from the church for a time. I remember, though, when I heard that he had died. I had been back into the church for a couple of years by then. I had been at the women’s fall retreat the Saturday the news came out. Leaving the retreat, I got in the car and turned on the radio in the middle of the DJ’s sentence. All I caught was something about remembering someone’s music and his ministry. I also caught the sense of sadness, palpable even over the radio. I couldn’t fathom who it could be so I stayed tuned to the radio until the DJ finally repeated the news.

Understandably, many youth have no idea who Mullins was even though they undoubtedly have heard his most recognizable song, Awesome God. Yet, he expressed insights into the Christian life that were ahead of his time. He was living a missional life, it seems, before it became a buzzword. There’s a story that in 1983, when he was nominated for his first Dove award as a songwriter, he took the place of one of the servers in the dessert line at a post-Dove party to give the server a break. He explained it like this in a biography at Christianity Today:

The Christian faith is not about mere intellectual assent to a set of doctrines, but about a daily walk with this person Jesus. It’s about living in awareness of Christ risen, resurrected, and living in my life. Even though doctrine is important, wisdom in the Bible has more to do with character and the art of living. Christianity is about living out the will of God, and living abundantly.

Maybe not so strangely enough, Mullins was going to be a youth pastor until he came to a crossroads at which the choice had to be made. In the end, the choice brought not just the youth, but the church as a whole closer to the Jesus he so loved as reflected in his music.

No project, however, most captured the desire to draw closer to Christ than his final project. Nine days before his death, Mullins took his band to an abandoned church and played for them what he called “ten songs about Jesus.” The session was recorded on an old cassette player from which came The Jesus Record, a double disc that includes both the original cassette-recorded demos and a studio set that brought together a variety of Christian artists to sing the songs Mullins said were “needed.”

From the first time I heard it, My Deliverer was my favorite track on the CD, probably because of the way it connected Christ to the captivity of the Israelites under the Egyptians and the way it reinforced the presence of confident faith even when doubts surface.

Joseph took his wife and child and they went to Africa
To escape the rage of a deadly king
There along the banks of the Nile Jesus listened to the song
That the captive children used to sing . . . they were singing
My Deliverer is coming, My Deliverer is standing by (repeat)

Through a dry and thirsty land
Water from the Kenyan heights pours itself out from Lake Sangra’s broken heart
There in the Sahara winds Jesus heard the whole world cry
For the healing that would flow from His own scars . . . the world was singing

My Deliverer is coming, My Deliverer is standing by (repeat)
He will never break his promise – He has written it upon the sky
My Deliverer is coming, My Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming, My Deliverer is standing by (repeat)
I will never doubt His promise – though I doubt my heart – I doubt my eyes
My Deliverer is coming, My Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming, My Deliverer is standing by (repeat)
He will never break His promise though the stars should break faith with the sky
My Deliverer is coming, My Deliverer is standing by

Tonight, the CD of the original demos has been playing in the background as I write. Tonight, it’s two lines of a song simply titled Jesus that offers a final worship thought and maybe even a prayer for all of us. It’s a prayer that was answered for Mullins and one that is still being played out in the lives of all of us.

Jesus – write me into Your story – whisper it to me
And let me know I am yours

Wednesday Selah: Lord Remind Me by Jon and Valerie Guerra

 Lord, remind me.That the shepherds heard the angels break the silence in th

I first heard Jon Guerra’s amazing music at the beginning of November when I heard him at Matt Maher’s Saints and Sinners tour. I loved his music and his sense of humor when I saw him in concert so I was thrilled to see he released a Christmas album with his wife, Valerie. The whole album is well worth a listen, but Lord Remind Me stopped me in my tracks, hearing it as I did just days after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

I couldn’t find the lyrics online so I listened to the song a few times. There’s a line or two that I’m not sure about so I put them in bold. Enjoy reading them while you listen to the beautiful song below.

When children play on Christmas day and snow is flung
When I feel I haven’t had a friend since I was young
When I’m feeling tired of myself and everyone
Lord, remind me.
Lord, remind me.

That the shepherds heard the angels break the silence in the field.
That the wise men found the baby and they could not help but kneel.
That the one who heard our weeping came a child in a manger sleeping.
Lord remind me
Cause it’s Christmas and I want to remember

When I hear the news and hear another war’s begun
And I wonder if God’s on the side of either one.
I hear bullet, nail or handcuff you bore all of them.
And in the light my heart’s as dark as anyone’s
Lord, remind me.
Lord, remind me.

That the shepherds heard the angels break the silence in the field.
That the wise men found the baby and they could not help but kneel.
That the one who heard our weeping came a child in a manger sleeping.
Lord, remind me.
Cause it’s Christmas and I want to remember

Tell me who loves me
Tell me who wants me
Tell me the story like I’ve never heard before
And I’ll sing like the angels sing
With my whole heart singing
To him who’s worth a thousand songs of love.

Glory in the highest.
Glory in the lowest.
Glory, that shines when nothing seems to shine at all.

Glory in the highest.
Glory in the lowest.
Glory, Immanuel.

Glory in the highest.
Glory in the lowest.
Glory, Immanuel.
Immanuel.

Lord, remind me.
Lord, remind me.

That the paralytic rose and stood up proud on his own feet.
That the thief who hung beside you is with you now and waits for me.
That the cry of faith so simple is the greatest song in heaven’s temple.
Lord, remind me.
Cause it’s Christmas
And I want to remember

This is post in the ongoing Wednesday Selah series. After diving back into the work week on Monday and racing through all the tasks that Tuesday brings, let’s take a pause on Wednesday and lift up the name of the only One who matters – Jesus. Find out more about the word, selah, and its use in the Psalms here.

Wednesday Selah: Rest by Matt Maher

Even though I walk through the valley of deathYou restore my soul and You give me restAll the memories of Your faithfulnessYou restore my soul and You give me rest

Matt Maher wrote an amazing song to close his latest recording, Saints + Sinners. It’s a setting of Psalm 23, and he describes it like this on his web site:

Psalm 23 gets quoted a lot at funerals, but it’s really an amazing Psalm for people who are going through a time of change. The thing about a valley is, what makes a valley a valley is that there’s a mountaintop on the other site of it. You’ve just got to keep walking, and eventually you’ll hit a mountain. But if you’re on a mountain, you might want to buckle up. I think God is inviting us to slow down a little bit in the hectic pace of our life and to simply rest in Him. For me, it’s the perfect way to end the record.

I selected a video of the song that isn’t really a video at all. Take a break. Listen to the lyrics. Rest in Him.

 

This is post in the ongoing Wednesday Selah series. After diving back into the work week on Monday and racing through all the tasks that Tuesday brings, let’s take a pause on Wednesday and lift up the name of the only One who matters – Jesus. Find out more about the word, selah, and its use in the Psalms here.

Wednesday Selah: It Is Well (Bethel Music and Kristene DiMarco)

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There’s an interesting word interspersed among the Psalms. Here is one appearance:

He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

Psalm 24:5-7

Bibles that include the word in the text, such as the English Standard Version, often include a note that it is a word of uncertain origin, and may be a musical term. One concordance defined the term as a “pause.” Another defined it as “to lift up, exalt.”

Let’s take it at both. After diving back into the work week on Monday and racing through all the tasks that Tuesday brings, let’s take a pause on Wednesday and lift up the name of the only One who matters – Jesus.

This week, I chose a song that I haven’t been able to shake for the past few months. It Is Well is a powerful song from Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music. You can hear her talk about the story behind the song in the video below.

There’s great truth when Kristene says, “To encounter the faithfulness of God is not always a comfortable thing.” When our lives are complacently swimming along, we tend not to think so much about God’s faithfulness. Still, he is there. He is faithful even when we are not.

And, those moments when we cry out to Him? You know those moments. They are anything but comfortable. Those are the moments we don’t even want to talk about. The ones that break open our souls and beg God to enter in.

Those are the moments when we need to remind ourselves that our eyes are on Him through it all.

If you haven’t heard the song before, watch Kristene sing it in the video below.

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This post is part of this year’s #write31days challenge. Click here to see all of the posts. To learn more about the challenge, visit write31days.com.