Our God is an Awesome God

It was refreshing to reacquaint myself with the music of Rich Mullins on Saturday. Listening to each of his albums (CDs) from the self-titled "Rich Mullins" released in 1986 all the way to Canticle of the Plains, I was reminded that, with the exception of two songs, Rich wrote the words to every song he ever recorded.

I'm very fortunate to have a younger brother who shares my appreciation for Rich Mullins and his music, and in the fall of 1997 he gave me a two-CD set that was a Tribute to Rich Mullins, released by 20 The Countdown Magazine. I also had the opportunity to listen to these CDs, something I hadn't done in 8 years. [Listen to it here]

From his very first album, Rich wanted the world to know he was ready for heaven and recorded Elijah, a song about this longing. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that he re-recorded Elijah for the last album released before his death, Songs. When asked why he re-did it, Rich simply said, "because nobody listened the first time."

I became a fan of Rich Mullins my freshman year of college as I wore out the album Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth. It brought back a lot of memories--friends I had forgotten, Campus Crusade for Christ, and working a Steve Camp concert at Texas A&M University. It all seems like a lifetime ago.

If you've never listened to his music, heard him speak, or read anything about him, you're missing out. Rich was an average guy with a profound simplicity who yearned to know God. His next release, Never Picture Perfect, has my favorite song entitled "My One Thing". I've stolen some of his words as a daily prayer:

Save me from those things that might distract me
Please take them away and purify my heart
I don't want to lose the eternal for the things that are passing
After listening to 12 hours of Rich Mullins, I decided that my favorite album is A Liturgy, A Legacy, & A Ragamuffin Band. There's not a song on this album I couldn't listen to for hours. Rich is a true artist and poet. In this album, he brings together two things that impact our faith experience--liturgy and legacy. The liturgy part of the album (tracks 2-6) is a call to worship while the legacy (tracks 7-12) calls us to reflect on our heritage and those things that make us who we are. The songs "Hold Me Jesus" and "Peace" are especially powerful.

Time will tell what the world will remember about Rich Mullins, but for me it's humility and honesty shown through his words and music. There is something profoundly disarming and inviting about Rich that is rare in this world of smoke-and-mirrors. We miss you, Rich.


Rich Mullins, gone but never forgotten

I just read a blog that mentioned September 19 was the 8th anniversary of the death of Rich Mullins. I still vividly remember learning this horrible news--it was a Saturday, and my wife (then fiance) and I had just pulled into a Target parking lot. I was turning off the car when the radio DJ shared the news that Rich had died in a car accident the previous night. My wife got out of the car while I sat in stunned silence (very unusual for me). The radio station went to a commercial, so I got out of the car and walked with my wife into Target. I couldn't have been 10 feet into the store when it hit me. My eyes welled up with tears. I was devastated.

Life does go on. Two months later I was married, and a month after that we moved to Atlanta. The music and memory of Rich is still with me, though. Long after my Amy Grant, 4 Him, and other crappy christian music has been sold off or given away, my Rich Mullins CDs remain. And every Christmas morning we have a family tradition--I play "You Gotta Get Up" loud enough for the neighbors to hear it.

One of my few regrets in life is that I never saw Rich Mullins live in concert. It's been a while since I've played his music, but fortunately this Saturday I have a full day of work on a remodeling project. It'll be nice saying hello to an old friend.


Cheney gets some honest feedback

Watching the news coverage after Hurricane Katrina, one of the most offensive things I repeatedly heard from government officials was the self-congratulatory ass-kissing and positive spin with no basis in reality. I was relieved to finally hear CNN's Anderson Cooper address this very issue when he ripped into Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) the Friday after the hurricane struck. [See the video here]

And not picked up by any of the major news outlets (unless you consider Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" to be a news outlet) is a press conference from Gulfport, MS, by Vice President Dick Cheney where he started with the positive spin and got some honest feedback from a local resident.


It's official--the Bush family is nuts!

Last week, after “more than an hour of solemn ceremony” swearing in Rep. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as House speaker, Florida Governor Jeb Bush stepped to the podium to tell “a short story about ‘unleashing Chang,’ his ‘mystical warrior’ friend.”

Here are some of Bush’s words, “spoken before hundreds of lawmakers and politicians”:

“Chang is a mystical warrior. Chang is somebody who believes in conservative principles, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism, believes in moral values that underpin a free society.

“I rely on Chang with great regularity in my public life. He has been by my side and sometimes I let him down. But Chang, this mystical warrior, has never let me down.”

Bush then unsheathed a golden sword and gave it to Rubio as a gift.

‘’I'm going to bestow to you the sword of a great conservative warrior,'’ he said, as the crowd roared.

I have an imaginary friend too. His name is Fuzzy, and he's a polar bear who likes to play lawn darts.


Ganja Baby!

As a parent, Comcast's On-Demand service is now a must-have in our household for no other reason than Sesame Street reruns 24/7.

I haven't found a great selection of On-Demand movies, so we won't be dropping the NetFlix subscription anytime soon, but I've found a new Showtime series that I'm hooked on--Weeds. Weeds is funny, irreverent, and smart. Mary-Louise Parker is a
mom who starts a marijuana business to support her family after her husband dies, which reminds me... it's time to update my will.


For fiscal responsibility, don't turn to the Republican party

My biggest idealogical problem with this republican administration is the war in Iraq. I'm not anti-war; removing the Taliban was the right move. Iraq is another story. My hope was that W would allow the UN weapons inspectors to complete their work which would have determined whether Iraq really possessed WMDs. Instead, W pulled the trigger.

My second biggest issue with this republican administration is its lack of fiscal responsibility. It's scary to have one party in control of both houses of Congress AND the White House. Most don't realize that President George W. Bush has NEVER vetoed a spending bill! Republicans don't like taxes, so they've transformed themselves into the "borrow and spend" party. Meanwhile the federal debt continues to grow, which leads me to today.

"The fact of the matter is when our nation faces these type of emergencies, it unfortunately requires us to deficit spend. It's nothing that anybody in Washington, or anywhere for that matter, likes to do but it's necessary," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett.

American taxpayers are already on the hook for over $60 billion in Katrina aid relief that's been pushed through a republican-controlled Congress. Democrats aren't any better--they're voting for the Katrina gravy train as well, but they're not in control--republicans are. With estimates of the federal tab running as high as $200 billion, it's time for fiscal restraint and creativity. Americans are already on the hook for $7.9 trillion in debt (up from $5.6 trillion when W came to office). Enough is enough.

Don't misunderestimate FEMA

FEMA Convoy Gets Ice to Cities Not in Need

By WOODY BAIRD, Associated Press Writer
Mon Sep 12,11:35 PM ET

About 200 tractor-trailer trucks with ice and water for victims of Hurricane Katrina took a convoluted, weeklong trip to a storage depot in Memphis, partly because of what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called "miscommunication."

The drivers were sent to cities that didn't end up needing water or ice and were final directed to Memphis, said Corps spokesman Bob Anderson.

"They're in the right place now," Anderson said Monday. He said the problem trip may have resulted from "miscommunication, a breakdown in communication between FEMA and the Corps."

The trucks are leased by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, while the Corps is responsible for getting them to where they are needed in Mississippi and Louisiana. Memphis has a Corps storage facility where relief supplies are held before being shipped south.

No one went without water because of the mix-up, Anderson said.

"Our supply of ice and water is exceeding the demand right now," Anderson said. "The ice and water will not be wasted."

The 18-wheelers, under contract for up to $900 a day, are part of a relief operations that already has sent more than 5,300 trucks of ice and water to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Anderson said.

Drivers said they picked up their loads a week ago and were sent to Meridian, Miss., before being dispatched to Selma, Ala., and finally to Memphis. Some also were detoured through Hattiesburg, Miss., drivers said.

Jeff Henderson of Dade City, Fla., picked up his load near Grand Rapids, Mich.

"I drove all the way up from Florida to Michigan thinking I was going to help these people out and now I've been sitting on this load for over seven days," Henderson said. "Somebody dropped the ball somewhere."

A rather telling statement about this presidency...

This is a photo taken over the shoulder of W at the UN. It's unknown whether the words already scribbled are those of Condi or W, but they read "I think I MAY NEED A BATHroom break?"


How Bush Blew It

I certainly haven't figured life out and don't have all the answers. I appreciate disccusion, debate, and opposing views because it helps strengthen, mold, and change my outlook and beliefs.

And perhaps because of this I am embarrassed by our president. As has been widely reported, W has a way of ridding himself of wise counsel who do not toe his party line (Colin Powell was probably the most visible departure). The federal response to Hurricane Katrina is one such result of having a president who insulates himself from the real world, and Newsweek has a must-read article revealing How Bush Blew It.


Maybe THIS is what they meant by compassionate conservatism?

Last Tuesday evening I was watching TV and at first thought it might be a case of the liberal news slandering the good Bush name, and then I realized I was watching Fox news who was quoting the president's mom as saying about the evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them." Some people really are too stupid to have kids. Damn... too late!

With these feelings coming from the matriarch of the Republican party, it doesn't come as any shock that on Saturday morning the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, while on the tour of a shelter with top administration officials from Washington, stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots. The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

I am reminded of the following sage advice and offer it to Barbara Bush & Tom DeLay: It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.


The Iraq war IS a nuclear war

It's not getting much, if any coverage, but the war in Iraq has gone nuclear. [article]

We have the Department of Homeland (In)security focused on keeping a "dirty bomb" from detonating on U.S. soil, but where is the outrage about our country spreading radioactive material over Afghanistan and Iraq? There's nothing politically conservative about the use of DU. And I can't imagine it passing anyone's "What would Jesus do?" test.

More information on DU here.


Jesus' thoughts on Hurricane Katrina Relief

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Matthew 25: 31-46 (New International Version)