Rich Mullins on Temptation and Our Sovereign God

43281-rich-mullins-1200.1200w.tnGoing back and reminding myself of the significant ministry of Rich Mullins during this pandemic has been healing, and I hope it has ministered to those who have stumbled upon these blog posts.  Here are two final excellent words (as before, edited for clarity), the first a typically Mullinsian, alarmingly honest word on the nature of temptation:

[W]hen you’re a kid, and you’re struggling with sins, you go, “By the time I’m 30, I’m going to be so old and tired that I won’t have energy enough to sin anymore.  And I will be so gloomy and so dull that sin will no longer have any appeal; I won’t enjoy being tempted.”

The thing that I find shocking about myself is that even if I don’t act on sin, I still like temptation.  You know how we’re supposed to pray, “Lead us not into temptation”?  My prayer is generally “Lead me into temptation just a little and then get me out right at the last minute.”  Because temptation is very . . . tempting.  And we like [it], even if we’re not going to act on it.  I mean, why else would we walk around malls if we didn’t like to be tempted to covet?  It just wouldn’t make any sense.

[Mullins had previously indicated that a few years back, he and his friend Beaker were having a soul-baring conversation at a train station in Germany, and he now resumed that story.]  So we’re having this really intimate conversation about some rather embarrassing things–[although not embarrassing for] us, because we pretty much know each other inside out.  [Since w]e’re in Germany, I . . . wasn’t thinking about anybody else being [able to understand English].  And there’s another guy sitting on the bench, and right in the middle of the conversation, right after I had said the most incriminating thing I think I could ever say about myself, this guy leans over and says, “Excuse me, but are you Rich Mullins?”  So immediately I’m going over the conversation to see if I am or not. . . .

I would like for everyone to think that I was really Mr. Spiritual Heavy, but the reality of it is, I’m not.  And for me, this is even better news than if I was.  Because if God can save me, He can save you; there’s no problem.  And for those people who are upset because they find out what I’m really like and who I really am, if you think I’m bad now, you should imagine what I would be if I wasn’t a Christian.  The good news of the grace of God is far more significant than my own personal, pious victories.

For those who haven’t seen the Mullins biopic, Ragamuffin, which honestly but graciously sheds light on some of Rich’s personal struggles, I highly recommend checking it out.

20200503_203444Finally, I close this series on the informal teachings of Rich Mullins–via concert song transitions and recorded seminar discussions (see previous posts)–with a thought on God’s sovereignty, perhaps a more-helpful-than-otherwise-would-be-the-case reminder during our current global crisis.  We pick up the narrative right after Mullins had talked about how tranquil the Maryland countryside seemed by moonlight as he made a late-night commute via I-95 to Miami:

You know, sometimes we think that everything is changing, but, I tell you what, the same moon is up there tonight.  The same stars that Abraham saw, they’re all up there.  And the same God that put them there and made them shine, He’s still there, too.  And I don’t know what life has for you–I don’t know what life has for me–but I know this: I know that God is good.  And I know that God does not lie.  And I know that God has given us the gift of our lives.  Sometimes we wish He would’ve given us someone else’s life, but He chose to give you your life.  Don’t despair of it.

God chose to give us our lives.  God grant us the grace not to despair of them.

The Lord be with you!

About Warren Anderson

Emmaus Road Worshipers is written by Dr. Warren Anderson, Director of the Demoss Center for Worship in the Performing Arts at Judson University (Elgin, Ill.), where he also directs the Judson University Choir. A Judson alumnus, he has served his alma mater in a number of capacities over the past 30+ years, especially the chapel ministry, which he led for 22 years. From 1982-2016, Dr. Anderson served six different churches--American Baptist (X2), Converge, Evangelical Free Church of America, Roman Catholic, and United Methodist--as a "weekend warrior" worship musician/pastor. He is a former member of the editorial board of Worship Leader magazine. The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of Judson University.
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