Elijah- Rich Mullins

There are a number of versions of this song I’ve heard.  The words never change, though the state of Rich’s life in each is obviously different.  The aching in his voice moves to different lines.  You can hear his eagerness in earlier versions, and his weariness in later version.  I love every version of this song.  The one on this album, self titled Rich Mullins (1986), is in the early-middle of his career.  He’s ready to go, but not as beat up as he will be in later versions.

Of all the songs I’ve ever heard in my life, this is by far the one I’ve found reaches the deepest parts of who I am.  It lays me out on the table with nothing left to hide.  So many thoughts were floating around in my heart and mind, and when I heard Elijah… they all came together.  This IS my song.  If I should have a funeral someday, I hope this song is played.

This life has been filled with so many good things from God!  But I’ve ignored so many of them, and let them pass me by.  I would often grab onto the garbage and hold on tight.  It was nasty, disgusting, and fit for the trash.  It wreaked havoc on who I was and left me eager to be rid of it.

As much as I love the flood of goodness that He surrounds us with, I long for the day when I say goodbye to this world we’ve corrupted.  It’s not that I’m excited about death, I’d skip that step if I could.  I just want to be in the place where I can never leave a stain again.  A place where nobody around me will seek to destroy Christ’s work.  A place where all manner of things shall be well.

The thought of Elijah blasting out of here on a chariot of fire is one I’ll never get out of my head.  The flames devouring the chains that held him here, and the bucking of those steeds… so eager to go home.  What a ride that must have been!

I’m ready to go.  I hope with all my heart to see my wife and daughter on the other side.  But if I don’t have Him, then I have nothing.  I want to be with Him!

Here’s a later version of the song…

Elijah- Rich Mullins (Rich Mullins- 1986)

The Jordan is waiting for me to cross through
My heart is aging I can tell
So Lord, I’m begging for one last favor from You
Here’s my heart take it where You will

This life has shown me how we’re mended and how we’re torn
How it’s okay to be lonely as long as you’re free
Sometimes my ground was stoney
And sometimes covered up with thorns
And only You could make it what it had to be
And now that it’s done
Well if they dressed me like a pauper
Or if they dined me like a prince
If they lay me with my fathers
Or if my ashes scatter on the wind
I don’t care

But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye

There’s people been friendly, but they’d never be your friends
Sometimes this has bent me to the ground
Now that this is all ending
I want to hear some music once again
‘Cause it’s the finest thing that I have ever found

But the Jordan is waiting
Though I ain’t never seen the other side
Still they say you can’t take in the things you have here
So on the road to salvation
I stick out my thumb and He gives me a ride
And His music is already falling on my ears

There’s people been talking
They say they’re worried about my soul
Well, I’m here to tell you I’ll keep rocking
‘Til I’m sure it’s my time to roll
And when I do

When I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye

‘Cause when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye

New Heart- Rich Mullins

I love this song.  Sure there’s a few cheezy 80’s sound effects.  But they enhance the song for those who are paying attention to the message in the song.

I’ve mentioned that there are times where it’s easy to get proud and think that I’ve come this far on my own strength.  Well, there are those other moments as well… moments that remind me that my strength is weak and my heart is prone to wandering.  Moments where I wonder how God could ever purify me.  How can He possibly separate that wickedness out of me?

Then I remember Jesus and His sacrifice.  I remember that it’s all about Him and I’m only a small player in the story.  And as the Author of all things, He can write whatever He wants to write about me.

I remember that He is faithful, and that He has promised to make something out of me that shines like the noonday sun.

And it’s not just me He does this with, but it’s all of His people who share in His life giving Spirit!

For His glory!!!

New Heart- Rich Mullins (Rich Mullins- 1986)

Let there be no doubt I am the God of all Creation
God of glory and the God of love
And I have called you out, out of the many nations
To be my people so let me be your God

And I will give you a new heart, give you a new heart
Give you a new heart and a new spirit
I will give you a new heart, give you a new heart
Give you a new heart and a new spirit
Your heart of stone I will remove
I’ll put a heart of flesh inside of you
One I can touch, one I can move
And one that beats in time with the truth

So you’re on your way now, well, it won’t be easy going
Still my love is there and it will see you through
For my name’s sake I, I’m gonna make you Holy
So people will see Me when they look at you

And I will give you a new heart, give you a new heart
Give you a new heart and a new spirit
I will give you a new heart, give you a new heart
Give you a new heart and a new spirit
Your heart of stone I will remove
I’ll put a heart of flesh inside of you
One I can touch, one I can move
And one that beats in time with the truth

I will give you a new heart, give you a new heart
Give you a new heart and a new spirit
I will give you a new heart, give you a new heart
Give you a new heart and a new spirit
I will give you a new heart

Live Right- Rich Mullins

A passive listening to this song will leave one thinking a couple things.  One, that’s the epitome of 80’s music.  And two, that it’s just a song about doing good things and not bad things.

I’m not a fan of the 80’s sound, nor of pop music.  That’s why it took me a little while to stop skipping this song (let alone pay attention to it).  And once that happened, I found I was influenced, inspired, convicted, compelled.  Not by the music itself, sadly I can’t say it’s likely that I’ll ever get into the “groove” of this one.  It’s upbeat, so a sense of action is about all I feel from it (which I guess is part of the point).  But the lyrics of this song are ones I can honestly say I always hope to strive to live up to.

When Rich says live right in this song he’s not saying “don’t do bad things”, except maybe in that not living is a bad thing.  He’s talking about living life, and what life is about.  We sit around and waste time, or we busy ourselves with a whole lot of nothing.  But Rich opens this song with

So much life is slipping past you
You better sink in and take a hold

Then in the chorus he says:

So don’t hold out, don’t let these chances pass you by
Here’s your life, you’re gonna get it right
Live like you’ll die tomorrow
Die knowing you’ll live forever, live right
Love like you’ll leave tomorrow
Believing love lasts forever, live right

While working on this post I noticed the verse of the day on my blog, and it speaks the same message as this song… 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

God is at every moment giving us so many chances at true life.  If we could count them up then we could likely count the descendants of Abraham.  And one day we’ll give an account for each and every opportunity to truly live.  What’s God going to say to us?

One day we’ll run out of them here on earth.  But the ones we live out now my very well live on beyond our journey here, enabling others to truly live.

So don’t hold out, don’t let these chances pass you by…

Live Right- Rich Mullins (Rich Mullins- 1986)

Live Right- Rich Mullins

So much life is slipping past you
You better sink in and take a hold
So many things you say you think you’d like to do
About the things you think you know
Well, that road that’s paved with good intentions
May never reach the streets of gold
No, no, no

So much love is on the inside
Better give in and let it out
Any fool could tell you why
But let the Spirit show you how
Speak your heart and maybe you could shed light
On the shadow of someone’s doubt
Yeah, yeah, yeah

So don’t hold out, don’t let these chances pass you by
Here’s your life, you’re gonna get it right
Live like you’ll die tomorrow
Die knowing you’ll live forever, live right
Love like you’ll leave tomorrow
Believing love lasts forever, live right

The things you grab will never last you
Once they get you in their hold
What once were your slaves become your masters
They burn you up and leave you cold
Can you tell me what you have to profit
If you gain the world and lose your soul
Oh, no, no

But don’t hold out, don’t let these chances pass you by
Here’s your life, you’re gonna get it right
Live like you’ll die tomorrow
Die knowing you’ll live forever, live right
Love like you’ll leave tomorrow
Believing love lasts forever, live right

You gotta live

Don’t pull away from what’s ahead of you and don’t you look back
Look forward in faith and hope will pull you through
To a love that will last

Live like you’ll die tomorrow
Die knowing you’ll live forever, live right
Love like you’ll leave tomorrow
Believing love lasts forever, live right

(Live right, you gotta live)

Live like you’ll die tomorrow (live like you’re living right)
Die knowing you’ll live forever, live right
Love like you’ll leave tomorrow
Believing love lasts forever, live right

(Live right, you gotta live)

Live like you’ll die tomorrow (live like you’re living right)
Die knowing you’ll live forever, live right
Love like you’ll leave tomorrow
Believing love lasts forever, live right

(You gotta live right, you gotta live)
(Live like you’re living right)
(Live right)
(Believing that love will last)
(Live right, you gotta live right)
(You gotta live)

A Place to Stand- Rich Mullins

This is a slower song, and not as 80’s-ish as some of the other songs on this album.  It soothes you as it beckons you to a simpler and humbler place.  A place where you simply need your Father to guide you and hold you.

It’s definitely a struggle remaining faithful in every moment of our lives.  We live in such a twisted and foul land and it presses against us from every direction.

But we have a firm rock on which to stand, we have Christ!  Of all the things that shall fall out from under my feet I know that Christ is not among them.  If I love as He loved I’ll stand on His foundation.  If I can look where He tells me to look, then I’ll see the firm ground on which I must walk.

Easy enough to type.  But it’s hard to do because we’re always trying to rely on ourselves.  We must be humble if we are to be His.  Thank the Lord that His hand is available to us.  I pray we can learn to hold on tight and run to Him!

A Place to Stand- Rich Mullins (Rich Mullins- 1986)

Well there’s a lot of things working against me
But I know I can’t lose
Yeah, there’s a lot of things working against me
But I know I can’t lose
And there’s a lot of miles still between me and my home
But I’ve learned a lot through the years, now
I’m more than just young
I got a lot of things working against me
But I know I can’t lose

And there’s a lot of love locked up inside of me
That I’m learning to give
Yeah, there’s a lot of love locked up inside of me
That I’m learning to give
So that like that bush in Sinai that burned but was not consumed
May the speed of my life throw sparks on the shadows of the tombs
I got a lot of love locked up inside me
I’m learning to give

So hold on to my hand, yeah hold on to my hand
‘Cause I need a place to run to and a place to stand

And there’s a lot of things this world has hidden
That I’m learning to see
Yeah, there’s a lot of things this world has hidden
That I’m learning to see
Well I have seen some injustice but I’ve seen mercy too
I was blinded by the things I saw until I looked at you
There’s a lot of things this world has hidden
I’m learning to see

So hold on to my hand, hold on to my hand
‘Cause I need a place to run to and a place to stand

Hold on to my hand, yeah hold on to my hand
‘Cause I need a place to run to and a place to stand

A Few Good Men- Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins wrote a song called “A Few Good Men.”  It’s from his self titled album back in 1986.  The song has woven itself deep into my heart and mind, and here’s why.

The last few years have been hard for my wife and I.  As we see more opportunity for working in His kingdom, and get more and more excited about glorifying God and ministering to people, we see at the same time more and more people leaving the Church.  Some are dividing the Church.  Most of them are our peers.

It can make it easy for us to get proud, to think we’re somehow better than others.  But the truth is that we face the same temptations that everybody else faces.  We’re just as vulnerable to sin.  The difference is only found in God.  It’s not our own greatness (which isn’t much) that means anything at all, it’s His greatness.  And the more we decrease, the more He increases. 

But not everybody’s willing to do that.  Not everybody’s willing to lay their lives down for Christ, and it’s even rarer to find those who are willing to do so by loving and serving people (other than themselves).  The further along we get, the more we find we’re desperate for brothers and sisters who are desperate for the Lord.  We long for spiritual companions, those who want to die to self as we want to, in order to serve those God puts in our paths.  We long for examples in our peers that we can look up to.

The world tells us that such people won’t last.  But the world is only here because of the mercy and love of such men, and more specifically because of the God of mercy and love that has called His people to be like Him.

We want to see a few good men.  Though it causes them pain, and though they must carry a cross to be found, we want to see them.  We want the examples of their lives to fill our hearts and burn in our minds.  Though the martyrs must bleed, we want to see them.  Though it cost us everything, we want to bear the burden with them.

May they come.  May they come with the fury of a love unleashed, oh God Almighty may they come!

A Few Good Men- Rich Mullins (Rich Mullins- 1986)

A Few Good Men- Rich Mullins (audio link)

Show me someone who makes a difference
Show me someone who’s brave when he needs to be
I just need to see
Someone who cares enough that he would risk his life
For the love of what he’s come to believe

But you say that a man like that wouldn’t last in a world like this
Well, I believe that the world won’t last
If a man like that don’t exist
So I’m looking for a few good men, the brave and strong
Well, I bow again, Lord, I pray “Thy Kingdom Come”

Show me a someone who knows how to struggle
Who isn’t caught in the hold of his luxuries
I just need to see
Someone who was made for trouble
Who could come and help shape our destiny

But you say that a man like that wouldn’t last in a world like this
Well, I believe that the world won’t last
If a man like that don’t exist
So I’m looking for a few good men, the brave and strong
Well, I bow again, Lord, I pray “Thy Kingdom Come”

But you say that a man like that wouldn’t last in a world like this
Well, I believe that the world won’t last
If a man like that don’t exist
So I’m looking for a few good men, the brave and strong
Well, I bow again, Lord, I pray “Thy Kingdom Come”

(Give me the strong, give me the brave)
(Give me the strong, give me the brave)
(Give me the strong, give me the brave)
(Give me the strong, give me the brave)

Though it come with a cross
Though it come with the pain, let it come
Let it come to our hearts
Let it burn in our brains, let it come
O Lord, though it come with the blood that the
Martyrs bleed
Let it come, oh Lord, let it come
Let it come with the fury of a love unleashed, let it come

(Give me the strong, give me the brave)
Oh Lord, let it come
(Give me the strong, give me the brave)

Awestruck with Hammers

Some of you have known for a while that I love the hammer dulcimer.  Some of you know I began playing one a few months back.  Some of you don’t have a clue what a hammer dulcimer is.

Well, I thought I’d share with you the main reason I fell in love with the instrument and it’s music.  No surprise that it was my favorite singer/musician Rich Mullins that introduced me to this board of beauty.  Others have added to what’s becoming a passion, including another Christian singer/musician by the name of Andrew Peterson.

Here’s just a few samples…

Calling out Your Name- Rich Mullins

Creed- Rich Mullins

78 Eatonwood Green(@ 0:22)- Rich Mullins; Such a Thing as Glory (@ 8:22)- Rich Mullins (concert versions)

I couldn’t find any Andrew Peterson videos.  When I do I’ll hopefully remember to post them.

Jesus, Write Me Into Your Story (John 9)

John 9:3

It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

We focus on what is best for us.  Once in a while we truly pick up our crosses and take a total loss for ourselves that Christ might be glorified.  But we should always be willing to suffer for Him.  And how can we complain, for we caused Him more suffering than we can ever bear in this life.

The truth is that all things are for God, and that includes us.  Even if we choose to reject Christ, He will be glorified in His display of justice.  We can be for noble or ignoble purposes, but we will surely be used.

And because we are His, we should rejoice when we are used by Him.  Even if we have a weakness, or are in a humble situation, or some tragedy has befallen us; we need to desire to be a part of His story.

As you read John 9:3, think about how God’s power can be glorified in your weakness… and not for your sake, but for His.  Look into your heart and see if it cries out with every drop of blood within it as Rich Mullins’ heart cried out in his song “Jesus”…

Jesus
Write me into Your story
Whisper it to me
And let me know I’m Yours

My Flesh, My Blood (John 6)

Jesus wasn’t a man chasing the status quo.  He sought God’s righteousness.  And some of the things He said didn’t sit very well with the fallen people around Him.

One crystal clear example of this is the second half of John 6, where Jesus makes a bold statement.  He says to the people that they must drink of His blood and eat of his flesh in order to receive life.

Now the Jews were a people who saw cannibalism as a sin.  And that’s certainly what it sounded like Jesus was teaching them.  But they should have known that He meant something else.  He left no question on whether He followed the Father’s will.

I don’t know what I would have thought had I lived back then and heard this for the first time.  I’m guessing it would have been hard.  But we see that his closest disciples at least understood that Jesus was the one they needed to cling to.  They knew Jesus would direct them in the path of God.

I like the way Rich Mullins talked about this in an article he wrote for Release Magazine back in ’96.  Here’s what he said…

The Communion of Saints

by Rich Mullins

Release Magazine September/October 1996 

 

 

In one of those especially poignant passages that so frequently and powerfully mark the gospels and charge them with the character of Christ, we encounter Jesus and His twelve in a moment of deep sorrow followed by a great flash of glory. (And does glory ever come except on the heels of sorrow?)

Jesus has just alienated many of His disciples by telling them that they must “eat (His) body” and “drink (His) blood.” This directive must have been even more startling to its original audience than to us. They did not hear it through the filter of some 1900 of systematizing theology contrived to intellectualize and cushion us against the blow of His outrageous command. They it head on and felt the full force of it and they were repulsed.

Here, Jesus, who was habitually pushing the margin of reason into the realms of faith, crossed the line. Here, He ventured too deeply into the uncharted territory of the kingdom of God, articulated too clearly the good, yet disturbing news of that kingdom, and called for an obedience too radically opposite the reasonable sensibilities of many disciples at that time. He called them to follow too far outside their well-defined comfort lines…and they ran away in disgust or stood paralyzed in terror as Jesus walked on – walked on into the blinding light of the liberating truth He had just spoken.

The twelve stayed with Him – maybe reluctantly, maybe for reasons that they didn’t know. But when Jesus asked that heartbreaking question, “Will you also leave Me?” it is Peter – the impetuous apostle – who gives us the secret to the hidden heart of discipleship:
“Where else can we go? You have the words of life!”
Peter may very well have been as perplexed over the point of Jesus’ teaching as those who abandoned Him, but he was not confused about the person Jesus. Peter might have misunderstood His methods and mission, but he was certain that Jesus was Messiah. He may have been in the dark about where he was going, but he knew that in Jesus there was light. He may have been scared nearly to death by the demands of discipleship, but he knew that in Jesus there was life. Just before this confession of his dependency on and the sufficiency of Jesus, he had sunk in the storm of intimidating waves and been rescued by the hand of a Master who knew his weakness and the shallowness of his faith (Matthew 14:22- 31).

There is much that we are intimidated by in our walk: doctrines that run counter to our cultures and egos, tasks that seem nearly insurmountable, the weakness of our wills and the seeming severity of God’s. We can get lost in the endless debates over the mechanics of Christianity and sink in the despondency of our powerlessness to grasp the mystery of grace, but in the midst of that, we must do what the writer to the Hebrews advised and what Peter did, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” It is He who calls us and He who enables. His body is our bread; His blood our drink. He has the words of life.