A Ragamuffin’s Return

 

“You should give this guy a listen…”, my best friend said to me as he handed me a Compact Disc. He handed me a Rich Mullins CD of “The World as Best as I Remember it”

“Pfft. Naw.”, I said. “I’d rather listen to something harder like Petra or Stryper…”

Little did I know how Rich’s music would affect me later in my life. I was unaware how deep and talented his music was at the time. I heard the popular song on the radio “Awesome God” but never paid any attention to the man behind the famous song.  I never thought I would be interested in someone such as Rich.

But one late evening several years later, while battling depression in my darkened bedroom of my parents home, I would watch a show at midnight that played Christian Music Videos. One of those videos was  Rich’s song “Hold Me, Jesus”.

I laid there watching this video and took so much comfort of this song and wanted more from this singer/songwriter. That night I wept and prayed and drew closer to God like never before.

I later bought my first CD of Rich Mullins. It was “A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band” (which is probably the best Road Trip CD to bring with you when traveling across any State or Country.) I soaked in the music and lyrics of these compiled songs. And I cherished them deeply. It ministered me and brought me to my knees to pray to a Holy and Wonderful God. From that, I read the books he read and learned everything I could about the man. If Rich recommended a certain book, I read it. From Tozer to Chesterton to Brennan Manning. During that time, I learned a lot in Christianity.

A few years ago, a movie came out about Rich aptly named “Ragamuffin”. I was excited to hear this since I looked up to him and really wanted to learn more about him. When it was finally released on Blue Ray, I bought it to watch. It was strange that there was a message from Rich’s brother given a somewhat warning about the movie. For it portrayed him in a very different light that many had not known about him.

Throughout the film, it portrayed him as almost a manic depressant with a drinking and smoking addiction. He seemed to have struggled with those vises and only those who truly knew him said little to nothing about his own addictions. After watching this, I felt my view of him was brought down to Earth and I saw him as not an incredible musician but as a broken and weak man with little to no conviction of the sins he carried. After watching the movie, I said goodbye to Rich Mullins and promised myself not to put such people in such a high and lofty positions.

Tonight, as I write this post, I’m watching a tribute about Rich for the 20th anniversary of his death. I’m not sure what to think. I want to sit and judge him for not being the example of the ideal Christian that I needed in my life. But I also saw a fragile, broken sinner who desperately needed Christ every day of his life. And I am one too.

I think I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don’t want to be morally excellent but my faith isn’t in the idea that I’m more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit. -Rich Mullins

What were your impressions of Rich? Write down your thoughts in the comments below.

-JW

5 Comments
  1. Coleen Sharp 3 weeks ago

    Haven’t watched the movie but my husband and I love his music. He was an incredibly talented musician and song writer. He was one of the better ones in the 80s and 90s. I think our views of him were similar to yours, although we’ve heard some things through the years about his struggles.

    We like Petra and Stryper too. Got my first Petra cassette in 1983. I could do without Stryper, but my husband still listens to them and attends their concerts. My husband was into heavy metal mid 80s, was invited to a Stryper concert in 1986. He was intrigued, so he started reading through the Bible, and became a Christian a short time later. So he’s partial to them.

  2. Author
    John Wilkinson 3 weeks ago

    @reformedgal Funny how I don’t really listen to them anymore. I’ve calmed down in my musical taste. I mostly listen to Andrew Peterson and the like. I was once invited to go see Rich Mullins in concert but I refused because of the drive and lack of funds at the time. I now kick myself for not going.
    The Movie is pretty revealing with how he lived as a Christian. But it was frustrating to see someone who had such a connection to God but still had struggles with his flesh.
    But it’s true with many of us walking with God and how we too struggle with our own flesh and failed to overcome them in this lifetime. But Praise God that Christ overcame it on the Cross.

  3. Dustin 3 weeks ago

    Thought he was a Roman Catholic- or at least was drawing close to Rome.

  4. Mike Yonce 3 weeks ago

    I was heavily into CCM two to three decades ago. Rich Mullins was one of the artists I bought cassettes of, and also remember him being on some of my CCM VHS video tapes (half of you don’t know what I am talking about, LOL). I remember a video where some guy, maybe a producer, was talking about Rich in a positive manner but mentioned sin. While I can’t remember exactly what he said, it did make me wonder exactly WHAT he was talking about. I need to see if I still have that video. But as the years have went by I have found out more about Rich, and I have to admit I find some of it is troubling. First, I would have someone start here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Mullins

    Definitely some things of concern there. Also, the people he read; Chesterton, a Roman Catholic theologian. And Brennan Manning, oh my:

    https://www.wayoflife.org/database/beware_of_brennan_manning.html

    Brennan has always been a darling of the emergent church movement, and no wonder.

    Anyway, the Bible says:

    But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14)

    Yet, the same Bible says:

    No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)

    In the end only God knows where Rich stands. I know some time back I threw away a fair amount of my CCM music after discovering serious problems, as I could not continue listening to some of the artists in good conscience. Not that it was necessarily wrong, but I only want to follow those whom I am confident are closely following Christ.

  5. Jim Handyside 3 weeks ago

    What about this? I have enjoyed the music of Rich Mullins, but find this to be very disappointing. Is this really true?
    http://www.myrooftop.com/index.html/richconversion.htm

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