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Quotable: Rich Mullins

If you want to talk about ‘great music,’ there was enough great music written by the time Bach died that none of us ever needed to pick up a pen and write a note. You don’t write because the world has need of your music; you write because you have a need to make order, to organize things. If you’re a musician you express that very human, very common need by making music. If you’re a baker, you do it by making bread. It’s all the same goodness, it just expresses itself in different areas.

an excerpt from an interview Mullins did with Chris Coppernoll in 1998 (much more at http://kidbrothers.net, which has a ton of interviews, concert reviews, and features on the late Christian artists, as well as articles he wrote for Release Magazine in the 1990s).

The reason I mention this quote was a conversation I had with a pastor from my church yesterday.

Mullins’ comment was in the context of his reply to Coppernoll’s question about writing his most well-known song, Awesome God. Mullins’ response suggested a rather ho-hum genesis for the song, and led into a brief discussion of the nature of work and what we humans are created to do.

Why blog?

Why do anything, really?

Do you require a hand and arm pointing from heaven in a specific direction, leading you to the right thing? Or, do you just do something, and trust that God will guide you in your decisions?

The church has argued about that forever, it seems. I know I’ve wrestled with it in many ways.

I’ve wondered about this blog…and whether I could just do as I did and start writing, or if I should have waited for a giant divine hand from heaven to appear (or the Spirit’s inner prompting).

Always, Jesus is Lord, over everything in a Christian’s life. That should be nonnegotiable.

Sometimes, it is imperative to seek the will of God in a manner, knowing He could choose to speak directly and clearly to your heart and mind, or choose to allow you to make your best decision.

Sometimes, perhaps it’s not necessary to ask God to reveal Himself; if you are a singer, you sing. If you are a chef, you prepare food. If you are a writer, you write.

He gives some the gift of writing, and some the gift of music, and some the gift of making money, and some the gift of empathy…so we blog, and sing at the coffee shop, and earn money that we give to the church or a ministry, and we care for people on the scene of a major accident.

We may never do anything ‘great’ in the world nor the evangelical church, but as we work, give, serve, play, love our families, help our neighbors, serve those who have nothing to give in return…we as Christians perhaps worship our Lord. He gave us those gifts, and we freely bless others with them.

I blog, with or without an audience, because I have a need to write, to make order out of ideas in my mind. And in all that I worship my God.


  1. Buster
    July 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I don’t know… I’ll pray, and then I’ll get a call, or someone will ask me to help with something, so I show up, and then I’m like, “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” And sometimes cool things happen. Sometimes I have a feeling that I’m a part of some larger thing, like a moving river. Other times I regret not having made a left turn back in Albuquerque. (Bugs Bunny reference)

  2. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

    But you move. You don’t sit there waiting like a bump on a log. You’re not paralyzed by indecision…

  3. Buster
    July 8, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I am often paralyzed when it comes to lunch. I’ll waste a lot of time trying to figure out what to have. Should I have what’s int he fridge? Should I go to the store? I could go to McDonald’s. Or maybe I’ll go to that Mexican place. But that would take too long. I’m tired of sandwiches. What else is there…? ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s a lot easier when God just tells me what to do.

  4. Em
    July 8, 2010 at 11:25 am

    just have to say BrianD is very readable – even when the subject doesn’t particularly interest or ‘entertain’ me, he’s still readable ๐Ÿ˜‰
    with his searching, honest heart for God’s truth – what a gift!

  5. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 11:34 am

    What if God says ‘Buster, YOU choose’? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Em, thanks!

  6. ( | o )====:::
    July 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Great question!

    “Do you require a hand and arm pointing from heaven in a specific direction, leading you to the right thing? Or, do you just do something, and trust that God will guide you in your decisions?”

    Just do something!
    You’ll be a lot happier, produce more and better art, and upset your critics as you develop a wry smirk at their vapid jealousy.

    There is a qualitative lifestyle difference between those who :: actually produce things :: and those who over-analyze and think they play it safe. โ€œBeing stuckโ€ is a difficult enough dynamic to overcome, but we religious types are especially cursed by a well meaning but over protective subculture that starts from the default position of “do nothing, it’s safer than sinning”.

    We are at sometime told “whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do it unto the Lord…” and that plunges most of us into an endless loop of trying to sanctify our writing, performances, products, even our phone calls, praying some little prayer before ringing someone to be sure โ€œGod blesses itโ€. That is superstition, not joyous spontaneous interaction with God, more like obsessive compulsive disorder.
    As one gripped by this tendency toward analysis-paralysis I can attest to struggling with this for :: decades :: until I actually did some work to free myself.

    We forget that most of the memorable passages of scripture are so because they are hyperbole, not ever intended as a literal “god’s instruction manual” but rather a wide and sweeping poetic expression of that writer’s intent for how good it would be if all people, at all times would do something, in this case with a consciousness of The Creator Whom they are imitating by being creative.

    Great sentiment but reality is a far different thing. It’s about risk, experimentation, small victories,and far more fails than wins, and mostly it’s about persevering while developing the unmeasurable qualities that craftsmen/women possess.

    Writing, blogging, composing, songwriting, baking, building, sketching, painting, film making, photographing, dancing are skills. The ability to connect with others, gain a following, communicate something from the soul, that’s great art.

    The inclination toward a certain area of expression are personal discoveries.
    Think about it. Pretty much every little kid draws. It’s only when ridiculed by peers or adults that the kid puts down his pencil and goes inward because he hasn’t developed the self confidence to push beyond his limitations and ignore his critics.

    Same goes for each of us who dare to create. We push beyond, gain more skills, practice by doing, risking all along the way.

    Itโ€™s in the doing that we grow, discover, influence, and bring beauty to the world

    …even if itโ€™s only for an audience of One.

  7. July 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I dont think I act, if I feel I should do this or that I might ask a few questions of people who have already done it, but if it feel good do it.

    Thats why I have 2 failed church plants and loads of websites I start but never finish too, so my advice might not be the one to follow lol

  8. Buster
    July 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    When God lets ME choose, then that’s easy, because I know that either way is equally good. I’ll just randomly pick one or the other. And sometimes I’ll end up with both. I don’t think God gives us choices to make our lives hard.

    We ought to learn to enjoy making those choices — so many previous generation didn’t have any. Your career, your mate, your social status, your family size, where you lived, even your daily lunch — these things were all decided for you long in advance by your society or family or your owners. They’re probably watching us from beyond the grave and slapping their foreheads: “I can’t believe he doesn’t know what to do! If only I had had that choice!”

  9. Em
    July 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    i’ve never been good at sensing God’s leading… ever (well, a time or two)
    a year ago i was praying about selling my home – no sense of God’s leading, so… I chose cuz i thot He was ‘LETTING’ me ๐Ÿ˜‰

    as i sat in my living room with 2 Realtors preparing paperwork, the plumber came (i’d been hearing a strange, faint hissing noise for a couple days) Turned out that i had 6″ – 8 ” of hot water under the house and 10 days of clean up and drying out – i took that as God stamp of disapproval – dunno i seem to operate on the Grendal principle just go and do (and hold my breath).

    i’ve always been amazed at how incredibly dumb my choices are and, in retrospect, how incredibly bright it would have been to do what i’ve rejected doing. I actually made better choices before i began to be concerned about doing the “christian” thing; ‘course, the turning point came when i was just 15 ๐Ÿ˜†

  10. London
    July 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    This is really timely Brian thanks.

  11. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Good comments all…

  12. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I’ll reply later when I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts.

  13. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Em, Good analogy…

  14. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Buster we should enjoy making those choices.

    Maybe we don’t because were afraid of making the wrong choice and ticking off God?

  15. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Eric, you think things thru, though?

  16. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Great response, Gren. Thank you; I want to read it again. And again.

  17. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    London, hope it is very helpful to you.

  18. July 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    There can be a fear of success, as well. But like Esther said, that’s what faith was meant to counteract and overcome.

  19. July 8, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Not too much, I get an idea, look around. If I feel its a need that isnt being met, or being met the way I want it done I do it myself.

    Id love to spiritualize it but not really much to it

  20. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Because success can lead to the unknown?

  21. BrianD
    July 8, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    If you spiritualize it you can sell it through Lifeway and be the next Christian brand ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. July 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    In a way, but we also condition ourselves for failure. We can convince ourselves that we wouldn’t be able to handle success. There’s sometimes also a guilt that we don’t “deserve” the good, so we shrink back from it or do things to sabotage our own success. Then there’s the fear that if we can accomplish our goal, then there might not be anything after it — that everything will be over for us.

  23. Another Voice
    July 9, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Two things might be relevant in this discussion.

    1) God gave Adam work to do right from the start of creation. One could literally say we were created to not only worship God, but to work while on earth.

    2) Being made in God’s image, it seems quite natural that we would be creative beings – since God is The Creator. How different we are from the rest of the animal world when it comes to this aspect. A spider may create a beautiful web, but at the end of the day it is a web with a functional purpose for the spider’s survival. Man creates for the sake of creating.

  24. July 9, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Very relevant, AV! I think many miss that when they express the attitude, “It’s all going to burn.” It’s an excuse for not excelling, or even trying.

  25. BrianD
    July 9, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Relevant indeed AV! Makes perfect sense, too.

    Buster, your point re failure I must say is sound. Some folks do think like that. Seems a tad bizarre to me, but given human nature it shouldn’t.

    You all keep on going…I’ll pick up in the morning.

  26. July 9, 2010 at 12:58 am

    I would rather God just make my clothes never ware out and feed me manna twice a day than to choose…just ask Buster…I hate choosing.

  27. July 9, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Buster, trying is scary.

  28. Buster
    July 9, 2010 at 9:16 am

    But it’s a beautiful view when you get to the top…

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