Raginmuffin Gospel

April 3, 2016



The Lord looks down from heaven at us humans to see if there are any who are wise, any who worship him. But they have all gone wrong; they are all equally bad. Not one of them does what is right, not a single one.

~Psalms 14:2-3, GNT


“There’s a difference, you know, between faith and playing make-believe. One will make you grow. The other one will make you sleep.”
~Rich Mullins

This is a long blog that you want to read. If you don’t have time today, come back to it later.

The name Rich Mullins probably doesn’t ring a bell unless you are a Christian musician. Rich was born on an Indiana farm, the oldest of five children. His father farmed for a living and as a contemporary of Mullins, I can tell you, those on family farms were not wealthy. His dad wanted him to be a farmer which he was not. Rich wanted more than anything to make his dad proud of him but Rich was a gifted musician and his dad wanted a gifted farmer. Rich could not do anything right and the pain of the relationship drove Rich to leave home after graduating high school.

The constant berating, belittling and pure scorn from his dad took a toll on Rich’s life. He finally, just before his death in 1997, found peace with God about his father’s rejection through the help of a Pastor Brennan  Manning, author of the Ragamuffin Gospel. Manning took Rich on a mountain retreat and skillfully helped him refocus on God as Abba Father. Rich came to realize that his earthy father loved him, his dad was just so messed up on the inside, he couldn’t express love.

A ragamuffin is a dirty street urchin, a child, usually homeless and in rags. It is a broken, needy, dirty, neglected and unloved child. My father saw so many ragamuffins in WWII that it left a lasting impression on his mind. Daddy’s last year in service was in the mess hall and he saw the urchins digging through the garbage looking for something to eat. You could not complain about food at our house, daddy would go ballistic. He never forgot the image of these starving children out of his mind.

Mullins was a ragamuffin, he was broken, disturbed, erratic, prone to outburst of anger, temperamental and some would just say strange. He smoked and drank. He was not into wealth or greed. He gave away practically everything he owned. He really had no idea what he was worth which would have been millions. Mullins was known for his honesty: he did very little pretending.

As I watched his life story last night, I was sad. I worked things out with my father before he was promoted but Rich never had that opportunity. His dad passed away without ever expressing his love for his oldest son. Rich did fall in love in college with a girl that made him feel complete but she was afraid of his erratic behavior and broke off the relationship. I don’t think Rich ever recovered. It is not a happy feel good story but it does convey a powerful moral. “We are all broken, we are all dirty, unlovable street urchins with nothing to offer other than our sin and shame. We lay at the gate of God’s gracious mercy as beggars. Our mantra is Amazing Grace, it’s our only hope.”

By the way, Rich was basically my opposite. He hated tractors and loved guitars, I love tractors and have no use for a guitar. He had long hair, I like short. Cigarettes calmed his nerves, they make me sick. The smell of one gives me an instant headache. He turned to the bottle, I turn to food and lots of it. Thus he was skinny where I am fat. But this weirdo, as he referred to himself wrote my favorite song, “Awesome God.” By the way, when the song became an overnight hit and the one that put him on top of the charts, he resented it and didn’t want to sing the song in concert. He began his concerts saying, “I know what you came for, so lets sing it and get it out of the way.”

How many lives have been touched by AWESOME GOD? I would guess millions to date but eventually probably billions.


  • Today is the big day: SENIOR ADULT DAY. Deacons meeting @ 8:15, LCBS @ 9:15, Celebrate Jesus in worship @ 10:15, Gigi’s Baptism @ 11:00 am, benediction @ 11:30. SWAMP JOHNS for lunch [Senior Adults go first]. AWANA @ 5:30, Visitation @ 5:30 and worship @ 6:15.
  • Today: Fund Raiser for ST JUDE’S CHILDREN HOSPITAL. My personal goal is $1,000 which means we will need a $700 mission offering. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone felt a sense of indebtedness to this great hospital and gave generously. The offering could easily be $10,000.
  • Looking ahead: Business meeting next Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
  • Franklin Graham Prayer Rally coming soon, April 14.