Rich Mullins On Happiness

Rich Mullins passed away 15 years ago today.  Here’s a favorite quote from him:

“We do not find happiness by being assertive.  We don’t find happiness by running over people because we see what we want and they are in the way of that happiness so we either abandon them or smash them.  The Scriptures don’t teach us to be assertive.  The Scriptures teach us–and this is remarkable–the Scriptures teach us to be submissive.  This is not a popular idea.”

“Give to Ceasar what is Caesar’s; Give to God What is God’s” Luke 20 Through the Eyes of the Promise


Giving money to the government.  It’s not a fun subject.  Most people think we pay too much in taxes.

Imagine how it would be if the we were living in a country that wasn’t ours.  This was the situation for the Jews in the New Testament.  Though they lived in their own land, they paid taxes to Rome and to Caesar.  How frustrating that would be! Continue reading

Good Without God?

One of the major contentions of modern atheism/agnosticism is that it is possible to be good without needing to believe in God.  There are plenty of people, atheists will say, who belive in God who are not good.  And of course I agree.  Simply believing in God does not suddenly change a person into a good person.  But is the opposite true?  Is it possible to be good without believing in God?

If we are simply talking about a person’s actions, then the answer is “yes”.  There certainly are atheists who do good things.  There are all kinds of people all over the range of “religiosity” that donate time and money to good, worthy causes.  Of course agnostics and atheists do good things.

But it is with the next question that everyone tends to get nervous:  Does it make sense for atheists to do good things?

I would have to answer “no”. 

So, am I saying that we need some Big Guy in the sky cracking a whip over us in order to get us to do what is good?  Nope.  That’s not what I am saying.  I don’t think people need to see God as a Task-Master beating us into submission before they will do good.  I have already acknowledged that atheists do good things.  They presumably aren’t doing good things because they are afraid of the Angry Task-Master, or else they aren’t really atheists.

The reason it doesn’t make sense for atheists to do good things is because it is impossible to define what is good without talking about God.  Without some type of god, it is impossible to talk about good and bad.  There is no way to define “good” or “bad” without appealing to something outside of oneself to for a definition.

A common argument against what I am saying is put forth by Richard Dawkins, and many others.  In his The God Delusion, Dawkins proposes the idea that morality is determined by “the selfish gene”.  Basically the idea is that what is beneficial for survival is moral.  What extends our life is good and those things that benefit the evolutionary process are good, and the opposites are bad.

But why should this be the case?  For the Christian, we believe life is good because the Creator created us and loves us and is Life Himself.  But for someone who doesn’t believe in God, why should life be any “better” than death?  Why is life any more moral than death?  The problem with atheism is, if I was holding a gun to an atheist’s head (which I would never do), there is no logical argument that atheist could give me to not shoot him.

Without a standard of morality, “good” and “bad” lose their meaning.  Without a standard of morality, why is democracy any better than tyranny?  Love better than hate?  Freedom better than slavery?  Without a standard of morality, we are left with only moral relativism, which is to say, no morality at all.

And yet I said at the beginning that I believe that atheists do good things.  Why is that?  It’s not because it makes sense in their worldview.  It is because deep down, even atheists believe there is right and wrong, there is good and bad.  Deep down, even atheists can’t get away from the need for morality.  And this need for morality must ultimately point to a standard of good and bad outside of themselves.  Perhaps a moral atheist is closer to believing in God than he or she might think.

“Saved From” or “Saved For”?

When I say “salvation”, what do you think of?  Maybe you think of being saved from your sins.  Maybe you think of being saved from Hell.  Perhaps you think of being saved from bad habits or actions that hurt yourself or other people.  If one of these things came to mind, I would say you are with the majority of Christians in America.  Christianity in America is largely viewed as being saved from bad consequences, or being saved from a list of sins.  Salvation means we don’t drink, have pre-marital sex or smoke. 

And all of these ideas are true.  We are saved from Hell, sin and bad habits.  We shouldn’t engage in sinful behaviors.  Satan and his ways should no longer run our lives as Christians.  But friends, realizing that we are saved from these things is only the very beginning of the Christian life.

I think that it is high time for American Christianity to stop focusing on what we are saved from and to focus on what we are saved for.  We are very well aware of the things we are saved from.  But what are we saved for?  What is the point of our salvation?  Is the point of our salvation simply self-focused?  Are we really saved primarily for what it does for us?  Are we saved for ourselves?

Or are we saved for the Other?  Maybe we are saved because God deserves to have a people who praise him and love him, not because they have to, but because they want to.  Maybe we are saved because there are other people who need to know the joy and hope and love that God offers.  Maybe we are saved in order to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give a home to the homeless and hope to the hopeless.

Maybe, just maybe, the whole point of salvation is not me. 

Don’t hear me wrong–I am so very thankful for what God has done for me.  I just fear that we American Christians settle for so much less than what Christianity really is.  Yes, it is amazing what we have been saved from

I have a feeling, though, that it is infinitely more exciting, amazing, thrilling, holy and Christlike what we have been saved for.


“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay…”  Matthew 28:1-6

Good Friday

“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  Here they crucified him…Jesus said, ‘It is finished’.  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit…Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.  Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews.  With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.  Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.  Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.  This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.  At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.  Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”  John 19:17,18,30,38-42

What is Christian Music?

What is Christian music?  Is it music that is released on a “Christian” music label?  Does Christian music always have to talk about Jesus?  I have a friend that joked with me that one could tell whether a song was Christian by its JPM count.  JPM meant Jesus per minute.  Can we tell how Christian a song is by how many times it mentions Jesus?  These answers are a little tongue-in-cheek, but it gets to the point of the discussion:  If there is such a thing as Christian music, what is it?  How do we define music as “Christian”? 

Wikipedia says that “Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or communal belief regarding Christian life and faith.”  This definition, in my opinion, is one of the better ones I have seen for “Christian music”.  It includes the obviously Christian music and artists:  It certainly includes praise and worship music.  It includes artists like Michael W Smith, DC Talk, Chris Tomlin, Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman and others whose music is released on “Christian” labels.  It includes the music you would hear if you tuned in to your local Christian radio station.

I think there might be something left out of the definition on Wikipedia, though.  In my opinion, the ultimate test of whether music is “Christian” or not is whether or not the music is truthful.  Yes, music that worships God is Christian.  Yes, music that talks about Jesus is more often than not Christian (although this isn’t necessarily true).  Yes, music that is played on Christian radio is Christian.

Let’s talk about Christian radio for a minute.  There are those who seem to think that if a song is heard anywhere else besides Christian radio, it isn’t Christian.  There are those who seem to think that Christians ought to only listen to Christian radio stations, because that is the only music that reflects a Christian worldview.  What about truthfulness, though?  There are “Christian” radio stations that market themselves and “positive” and “encouraging”.  Now, ultimately, Christianity is positive and encouraging.  There are times in the Christian life, though, that do not seem “positive” or “encouraging”.  And the fact that these times feel negative is not necessarily a sign that we are not doing what we should. 

We are in the middle of Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  What a joyous occasion that was.  But that joy didn’t last all week.  Thursday night and Friday were not all that joyful.  Jesus wept and prayed that the Father would spare him from the coming circumstances.  He was betrayed by one of his disciples.  He was spat upon, beaten and ultimately crucified.  The joy of Palm Sunday was nowhere to be found on Good Friday.  Yes, that joy was renewed and multiplied on Easter Sunday, but we have to get through Good Friday and Saturday before we come to Easter Sunday.

When we Christians label ourselves and “positive” and “encouraging”, and pretend that we have to be that way all the time, we are in danger of being untruthful.  Honestly “Christian” music ought to address the seemingly negative times as well as those positive and encouraging times.  What does this mean?  This means a song like Taylor Swifts “Fifteen” might be as much a Christian song as any worship song ever written.  “Fifteen” honestly tells the story of a girl in high school who loses her innocence with a guy and goes on to regret it.  How is this a Christian song?  Because it is honest enough to not glamorize pre-marital sex.  It is honest enough to warn others, saying that what the person in the song did was a mistake.  Is it a “positive” and “encouraging” song as we normally think of those adjectives?  No.  But it is a Christian song because it is truthful.

Am I saying the songs played on Christian radio stations are not Christian?  Absolutely not.  What I am saying is that the world of “Christian Music” might be much bigger than we realize.  God is not limited to revealing himself through artists released on certain labels or through artists who use certain words.  God and His Truth want to be found in many more places than we realize.  I can only pray we have eyes open enough to seem Him.


Hello, newcomers!  This blog will be used to document my discoveries of Truth wherever I find it.  This could take the form of music, book and media reviews, as well as apologetic sorts of articles or essays, and whatever else I might discover along the way!  I plan to update at least twice a week, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!