Archive for March, 2009

Revisiting Rich

I take time on a regular basis to come back to Rich Mullins’ life and music. Most people only think “Awesome God” and some people even think cheesy Christian musician, worked with Amy Grant, etc. That is, however, a gross undervaluation of Rich’s character and contributions to the world. I watch the “Homeless Man” video and am struck by his beauty and simplicity.

I regularly recommend the biography “An Arrow Pointed Toward Heaven” as well. Here’s one of my favorite parts of the “Homeless Man” video.

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Just a snip from Wright’s For All God’s Worth that caught me this morning:

“Just as evil is more than the sum total of individual acts of wrongdoing so Jesus’ victory over evil is more than the sum total of subsequent individual acts of selfless love. Christian faith, faith in the crucified Jesus, is more than my individual belief that he died for me, vital though that is. It is the faith that on the cross Jesus in principle won the victory over sin, violence, pride, arrogance, and even death itself, and that that victory can now be implemented.” (55)

First of all, let’s not miss what Wright is saying – the death of Jesus, a victory over evil, is greater than all the acts of faith we may do. This puts things like the spiritual disciplines into perspective: we do not practice solitude because we think God is pleased with our pursuit – we pursue solitude so we can go there and come back and not only be alive (cp. Exodus 15, 17; Matt. 4) but we can come to understand a new level of freedom from that death (and all of its friends) which Jesus defeated. Solitude then becomes an exercise in implementing victory to become more like Christ, and in so doing find ourselves courageous enough to enter places of silence, hunger, thirst, intellectual dispute, trial, joylessness, etc. and come back alive.

This is the place where spiritual disciplines transcend the moralistic, therapeutic deism (do the right things, feel better, because of God) that we’ve been taught. Disciplines don’t make you holy, at least not explicitly, they create a place where we lose the fear of sanctification. We become courageous enough to step beyond the comfort of knowable God into the blessed distress of a God who moves without our permission and asks us to follow.

Prayer becomes an experience in locating ourselves in conversation with God.

Solitude invokes wilderness where we are not without water or bread, but we are fed on the will of the Father.

Silence invokes the slow death of noiselessness that we all avoid – and I think we might be afraid to hear the voice of the marginalized and oppressed – and brings us under the counsel of God.

Fasting shows that trees of all kinds of fruit are subject to God alone – and that we’ll live without the FDA guidelines and in fact may live better.

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Been a while since I filled the content field of the blog, and for those of you who read I am deeply sorry. Holley and I are still in the midst of transition to a new life and work in Orland Park, IL.

I don’t say that as an excuse, but today it is also a frame for what I’m about to say. Today I didn’t really feel like being a mature follower of Jesus. My head ached from changing climates, my body was exhausted from the rounds I’ve been making lately, and my mind was racing with the many things that need to be done before Holl, B, and I close on our first house at the end of the month (did I forget to mention that?)

Today, I felt like checking out – screaming at other drivers trying to navigate the gale force winds on I-55 south and finding some nice hole to crawl into before anyone noticed. Just me and my copy of “The Memory of Old Jack” with Holley and Bailey at my side.

The point that came ever so quickly to me is this: there is no checking out. My experience today in no way mirrors the oppression or suffering other followers of Jesus go through on a daily basis or have gone through in the course of history, but the reality is that the fairy-tale faith of fluffy Christian bookstores is not truth. Not that it isn’t absolute truth, which is a discussion that is as nasty as it is necessary, but the real root of the Greek “alethia” – it is not REALITY.

The reality is that bad days (which is all that today is, not a crisis of faith) are miniature rounding points that bring us to a place of greater maturity and softer lines of thought.

I’ve got more to post from the Halter & Smay book that I’m reading, “The Tangible Kingdom”, but it’s in my office 2 hours away and I don’t have a photographic memory.

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