Rich Mullins educates and entertains Stephens crowd


Daily Staff Writer

Rich Mullins and his Ragamuffin Band did not wow and excite the audience with a glitzy show Thursday night at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium. But with humility and authenticity, Mullins did offer the concert-goers a chance to worship with him and to hear a little of his perceptions of life and faith.

Mullins' laid back attitude stretched from his untucked T-shirt and faded jeans to his musical style of a combination of soft rock, folk and gospel, to his conversational approach to entertaining.

"Don't you hate it," Mullins said before he sang what he called his "break up song," "when you buy the ticket, and I come out here and have therapy?"

In his music Mullins faces life head on, with realistic but positive lyrics. And as he sings about life Mullins inevitably speaks about God, and his faith in God's unchanging ability to make hard times more bearable and all times opportunities for truer worship and deeper love.

Mullins' song "The Color Green" celebrates the small details of creation that glorify God.

"Be praised for all Your tenderness, by these works of Your hands. Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land. Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made blue for the sky and the color green that fills your fields with praise."

He sang a song begging God to "Save me from any woman who would be turned off by my aftershave. Save me from any religion that makes cheap cliches out of timeless truths."

Another song, "Hold Me Jesus," expressed the true weaknesses and longings that every human feels, and the comfort that Jesus offers. "I wake up in the night and feel the dark, it's so hot inside my soul I swear there must be blisters on my heart. So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my glory, won't you be my Prince of peace."

Mullins gave a strong statement of faith in the song "Creed." "I believe in God the Father, almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth and in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord ...I believe in the resurrection, I believe in a life that never ends."

This fall Mullins will switch his primary role of a performing musician to that of a music teacher. Mullins plans to teach Kindergarten through 12th grade music at a mission school on the Navajo reservation where he lives in Arizona.

He urged the audience not to forget people who are "culturally different from you." He said, though, that the church has lost most of its right to preach to these different cultural groups, because it has "stayed silent in the face of horrible injustices for so long." He said Christians should not try to make others into white people. "There's enough of them already." But he challenged Christians to help provide Bibles and Bible studies that are culturally relevant to Native Americans.

Mullins' desire to not have attention and praise focused on himself, but rather on God, was obvious from the way he conducted the concert. He often involved the audience in singing prayers and praise.

At the end of the concert Mullins led the audience in the singing of traditional Christian hymns.

As the crowd sang the doxology in beautiful accapella..."Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost..." Mullins quietly walked off stage.