Sunday, February 28, 2010

"I'll have what he's having..."

One of the great stories told about the late Rich Mullins in the book An Arrow Pointing to Heaven concerns his time in the pubs of Ireland.  Rich loved Ireland, and loved to spend his evenings mixing and mingling with the people at their local watering holes.  Irish pubs are famous for their vitality and hospitality, but there was one odd thing about Rich enjoying them so much.  He was a teetotaler- Rich did not drink alcohol at all!  But still he would be in the pubs, telling stories and laughing with the people.  And almost every night, according to author James Smith, Rich would be honored with the ultimate pub salute- patrons yelling out, pointing to him and saying, "I'll have a pint of what he's having!"  They could see that Rich was overflowing- with the love of Jesus.

Over the years my youth groups were often accused of being the "life of the party."  We were always very visible; we were often very loud.  There was never any doubt that when we were together, we were having fun.  Other youth groups were often jealous of the joy and freedom we shared.  People we didn't know often weren't sure what to make of us- we never seemed "pious" enough to be a church group to them.  We seldom had rules and regulations; we had a shared respect born from a love for one another.  This often freaked parents out, but it made our ministry special and different.  And people saw this difference in us.  Every motel and every restaurant we ever booked invited us back and commented on how much they enjoyed having us- even the ones that were scared to death of teenagers!  It's not that we were angels; I made bazillions of mistakes and we did not always represent Christ as we should have. When we did fail, we would address the mistakes, forgive each other, and move on.  The band Stellar Kart once described grace with the words "There will always be a second chance and you will always be on your first try."  We tried to live out that kind of love.  We were far from perfect, and we were sometimes obnoxious.  It's just that we were Jesus Freaks, full of life, love and joy.  We knew how to SHINE (Make 'em wonder what you've got, make them wish that they were not on the outside looking bored.  SHINE, let it shine before all men, let 'em see your works and then let them glorify the LORD- Newsboys)!

There are so many people who have a view of the church as boring and joyless.  It is my prayer that from New Garden to Springfield, on to Kissimmee and Chicago, Tampa and Waycross, that people who encountered my groups in restaurants, malls and everywhere else found themselves wondering where our joy came from.  The answer, of course, is Jesus.  I hope that after they encountered me, surrounded by teenagers and singing Lean On Me in line at Disney World that people young and old looked at each other, smiled, and said, "I'll have a glass of what they're having!" - and that through our actions and silliness Jesus was glorified!

One last thought- if you think that following Jesus is boring, I suggest you try reading your New Testament one more time...

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous3/01/2010

    Jesus sure was glorified through all your ministries!! I remember talking with you in Kissimmee once about the impact you hoped to have on the youth. You told me that you wouldn't see / know the fruits of your efforts for many years. Still being in Kissimmee, running into many of the youth today I KNOW you made a huge impact in their lives!! With and In God's grace and Love - THANKS for all you have done CARL!!!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Anything I may have accomplished happened because God can use any vessel, even a VERY flawed one, to do His will. Always good to hear from Kissimmee!


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