For the Love of Rich Mullins

At the point Rich Mullins’ music became a staple in my life, adult life was kicking my over idellistic butt. I had just began renting my own place, substitute teaching five days a week, and working on my teaching certification wondering all along if I made a complete batch out of all the God had originally planned for my life. It was a hard and lonely time. I had known Rich’s music before.
    I can’t remember exactly when I first heard Rich Mullins’ name. In the campy youth group I went to in my middle school years, we sang “Awesome God” and “Step by Step” quite a bit. “Awesome God” seemed cool on the fact alone it featured the word “awesome” which was still a cool word at that point. Then in high school sometime during my sophmore year I bought his compelation album Songs on cassette. I liked it well enough. Then about a year later I can remember my youth pastor announcing Rich had died in a car accident, so we sang a bunch of his songs that night. But he still just remained an artist I listened to occasionally. Through my years at Southwest Baptist and New Life Ranch I ran into a number of Rich Mullins fans, but I was in love with a band named Waterdeep at the time.
   I think I had to hit real hardship, deep confusion, and painful rejection before God could use Rich’s music to help build me into a man that can truly know God along all the pain, struggle, and joy that comes in living and finding our place. His song “Hard to Get” I cried out along with Rich,

Do you remember when You lived down here?
Where we all scrape to find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away?
Well I memorized every word You said
Still I’m so scared, I’m holding my breath
While You’re up there just playing hard to get

His music allowed me to get out all of the disillunsionment with how I understood my life would go, but definitely was not going. But the Lord also used it along with the Scriptures, other authors, and life to start to truly get what actual regular Christ focused servant living looked like in the real world beyond camp highs and college mission trips. Starting with coming to grips with the absolute truth of God’s love for me that continued to draw my heart dispite myself as put so beautifully in “The Love of God,”

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

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30 Minute Shuffle Vol. 1

The idea is simple. Enjoy 30 minutes of shuffled music on my iPod and write a brief bit on the 5-6 songs that pop up. I love a wide range of music. Here we go.  I posted this last week but deleted the alerts on Facebook/Twitter for foolish reasons. I might do another one of these today.

Hallelujah (Live) by Jeff Buckley

This song has been performed on nearly every singing reality show. The song in its  popular version was made by Jeff Buckley’s cover in 1994. An album highly acclaimed by the music world by an artist who died not long afterwards. While beautiful in its musical quality, the lyrics keep me from liking it too much. Taking the word Hallelujah which means “praise Yah (Yahweh)” and liking it to a broken love affair, hurts the whole thing for me from the start. It’s one of those songs much like John Lennon’s “Imagine” that I don’t entirely agree with, but have because of it’s fame and musical quality.

JarsofClayMuchAfraidHymn by Jars of Clay

One of my favorite tunes from Jars of Clay’s second album Much Afraid. Written with the solemn nature of most hymns, it combines the band’s typical violin and guitar alternative rock sound with the steady pace of an old hymn. All about yielding one’s self and pride to a life of worship unto the Lord.

Love Reign O’er Me by The Who

One of classic rock’s biggest songs. I came to know the song first through the Pearl Jam cover featured in the movie, Reign Over Me, named after the song. To me it’s a song from the perspective of a man crying out for love to rule over all the other conflicting emotions in a relationship and life even when it may be really, really hard.

Like Teenage Gravity by Counting Crows

One of the best tunes from Counting Crows’ latest album Underwater Sunshine. It retains much of the classic great Crows sound I’ve loved since their first album. I think it’s a song about two young people falling in love young, coming to terms with falling in love with the other person, and having the courage to speak it to them.

 What’s the Matter Here? by 10,000 Maniacs

Those who don’t know the band 10,000 Maniacs may remember their lead singer Natalie Merchant. If not, I highly recommend her. She is up there as one of my favorite female voices period. This band was one of the pioneers of the more mellow alternative sound in the early 90’s. This song is about a person living next door to a family where it is obvious spouse and child abuse is going on and how so many neighbors in such a situation although they are torn up about it choose to remain quiet. It’s a powerful lesser known song. I recommend the version from their MTV Unplugged album. MTV once featured high quality music and concerts not just whatever it does now.

10000ManiacsUnplugged2

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Sheep, Can You Hear His Voice?

Have you seen the movie, A Beautiful Mind? It’s the movie where Russell Crowe does an amazing job portraying genius mathematician, John Nash who suffers from black-sheep_10952_990x742schizophrenia. Despite being so naturally gifted, John can’t get past these characters that keep popping up in his life distracting him from what’s real. Eventually he learns to live with it. I wonder if most of us do. What do I mean? While most of us don’t live with seeing false images of people who speak to us, I’d venture to guess most live with some amount of internal voices that attempt to keep us from real life. Insecurities, jealousies, anger, addiction urges, or simple pride that bing us around in life. For some, we’ve been blessed to have another voice come along. One who has spit in the mud, wiped our eyes, and caused us to see. His voice is so very different. From the moment we heard it, we haven’t been able to get over it. Like dumb sheep to their shepherd, we know the voice of the own who truly loves us. The other voices persist. The thieves and robbers who work restlessly for their master. Because we are foolish, we’ll entertain these voices for a time still. But inside we know something’s not right, and we wait for the voice of our true shepherd. I got to discuss the 10th chapter of the Gospel of John with two of my beloved brothers yesterday, and just got to thinking of these things this morning. Wondering how many who know that true voice have been listening to the liars for too long. I know many hours and days of mine, some not too far in the past have been lost listening to them. The Good Shepherd’s voice is there. Calling us each by name. Has been all along. Telling us we will never perish- ever! And unlike John Nash, we will not merely just learn how to live with the voices. His voice will drown out the rest until one day the voices of the liars are no more. He’s calling; do you hear Him?

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Remembering the Fun Savage Brought…

I don’t know how many of your famous childhood heroes were real people and how many of them were fictional. The large bulk of mine were both. I have come to terms with a universal truth. Like a lot of the odd forms of entertainment interests, it is impossible for those who don’t have the prowrestling bug to understand those who have it. I have had it in varying decrees since the second grade. Therefore, I will waste no time in trying to explain it now.

When I got that bug in 1989, Hulk Hogan was the main hero; he quickly became mine. His main nemesis at the time was Macho Man Randy Savage. It is a peculiar thing to realize later in life that the guy you booed as a child was actually more talented in 8 out of 10 categories than your hero. This is the case with Savage. In the 1980’s and early ’90s he was second to none at both creating incredibly entertaining matches, performing off the wall interviews, and consistently being part of the most interesting feuds of his time.

Several nights after his death, I popped in the anthology the WWE put out on him several years ago and watched about a dozen of his classic interviews with Mean Gene Okerlund. It came back to me why I loved this crazy ridiculous form of entertainment so much. This guy was absolutely hilarious, and I kept on shamefully wanting to watch more.

Randy Savage was a major key player of something that was so top to bottom fun in my life. As life goes on, you begin to realize how precious those things are. Even though there are many highly entertaining individuals in both the WWE and entertainment today; I have a strong hunch they’ll never be at the level or flavor they were during Savages day. His death has reminded me of childhood friendship long gone, and enthusiasm for this larger than life characters were unmatched. For every kid who did an elbow drop from their parents’ furniture as a kid onto their friends below, Savage’s death reminds those us of more fancy free days.

Keep Christ the main thing, and enjoy the life He’s given you. Don’t despair of it.

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The Dust of Disappointment

In the dust of disappointment, I am left with a void of feeling. Perhaps, since I received the news I have tried too hard to answer the questions I should reserve for tomorrow, next week, and the months ahead. I have not failed. In fact, in the tasks I have been judged and graded, I have excelled. Disappointment is a tricky bit of emotion though. I just was not chosen for this one. His providence remains; it never waivers. My disappointment just needs to be dealt with before I move on. It deserves its moment, but nothing more.

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30 Favorite Bands @ Age 30

A quickly put together list for my fans for my 30th. The order could honestly change daily, but right now these are the current Ryan Connely favs. enjoy.

Rich Mullins

Waterdeep

Caedmon’s Call

Counting Crows

U2

SamCooke

Ryan Adams

The Black Crowes

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Andrew Peterson

The Beatles

Eric Clapton

R.E.M.

Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs

Ray Charles

Oasis

Bon Jovi

Jim Croce

Elvis Presley

Third Day

Led Zeppelin

Bebo Norman

Matchbox 20

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The Jackson 5

Tracy Chapman

Queen

The Who

Chris Tomlin

Stone Temple Pilots

 

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My Month with the Man Dressed in White (so far)…

A cigar smoking, profanity spewing, internally insecure Missourian would probably not be in the official job description for the most celebrated literary figure of the wealthiest nation on earth, but it describes him none the less. For the past month, I have walked through the world and life of Samuel L. Clemens by first reading The Prince and the Pauper for the first time and then journeying through his biography, Mark Twain: A Life, by Ron Powers. I found The Prince and the Pauper to be a delightful classic tale. It follows the journey of the son of Henry VIII and Tom Canty, a poor boy from the roughest part of town and an abusive family on top of that. In an odd turn of events, the boys encounter each other. Both are enamored with each others life, and swap clothes and live resulting in a mixed up adventure for both of them. It is a polished contrast to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

As for Twain himself, he in a nutshell is an odd, eclectic fellow full of charm and vile who I could see fitting in well with my family especially at Thanksgiving time. Twain went through at least six to seven careers and 30 plus years before he found his place as a literary man which gives myself great comfort (it took me only 29 to find my niche). He floundered as a steamboat pilot, lumber company owner, and gold prospector among others with a myraid of characters and events to color up the years. These trials were not failures, but the substance that fueled his writing in his later years. Brushing up against such characters as Ulysses S. Grant, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Charles Dickens. He lived through the Jackson administration, the Civil War, to the turn of the 20th Century and all the change and event in between. His wit and humor made him a magnet for entertaining whether a large audience in New York City or a small gathering of family and friends at his estate. In the book he is referred to as the United States’ first rock star persona. I imagine, if I knew him personally, I would have a coy, but honest affection for him much the same I have for the Simpson’s or Chris Farley. Those things that I think in my head, “I know I shouldn’t like this, but dang its funny.” He is a true picture of what we tend to love about American way, an unrefined, poor boy who becomes America’s first great author in the face of all the rules that say the contrary.

I still have about 150 pages and 30 years of his life left to journey through. I don’t suspect Samuel Clemens will become a hero of mine, but for some reason I think I’ll like him none the less.

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