Thursday, April 18, 2013


Someone said this, and I SO agree..."Every addict I’ve ever known__every person who has crashed and burned and, as a result, come to terms with their own powerlessness__has taught me something about God’s grace that I would’ve never known otherwise."

Brennan Manning is a case-in-point. His alcohol addiction was a life-long struggle. But his understanding of grace came in the midst of that struggle. He authored books like "The Ragamuffin Gospel" and many others that presented the grace of God in ways that are astounding.

He has gone home and into the presence of the One whose grace astounds us all. He was 78 years young.

Here's one article of his that says it all.

"Our culture has made the word grace impossible to understand. We resonate with slogans such as:

“There’s no free lunch.”

“You get what you deserve.”

“You want love? Earn it.”

“You want mercy? Show that you deserve it.

“Do unto others before they do unto you.”

“By all means, give others what they deserve but not one penny more.”

A friend told me she overheard a pastor say to a child, “God loves good little boys.” As I listen to sermons with their pointed emphasis on personal effort–no pain, no gain–I get the impression that a do-it-yourself spirituality is the American fashion.

Though the Scriptures insist on God’s initiative in the work of salvation–that by grace we are saved, that the Tremendous Lover has taken to the chase–our spirituality often starts with self, not God…We sweat through various spiritual exercises as if they were designed to produce a Christian Charles Atlas.

Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many Christians live as if only personal discipline and self-denial will mold the perfect me. The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is doing. In this curious process God is a benign old spectator in the bleachers who cheers when I show up for morning quiet time. Our eyes are not on God. At heart we are practicing Pelagians. We believe that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps–indeed, we can do it ourselves.

Sooner or later we are confronted with the painful truth of our inadequacy and insufficiency. Our security is shattered and our bootstraps are cut. Once the fervor has passed, weakness and infidelity appear. We discover our inability to add even a single inch to our spiritual stature. Life takes on a joyless, empty quality.

We begin to resemble the leading character in Eugene O’Neill’s play The Great God Brown: “Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?”

Something is radically wrong.

Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat out denial of the gospel of grace."

Brennan Manning

I could not agree more and "thank you" Brother Manning

Paul B.


Heather Fields said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for posting. It's amazing what you learn through adversity.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for reading and commenting.

I think Martin Luther King said it as well as anyone when he said...

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in his moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at his times of challenge and controversy."

Brannon Manning had both challenge and controversy on his plate and he made the most of his meal by being driven to the Grace of God. We're the benefactors.

Aussie John said...


What more can I say other than echo your closing comment and your response to Heather!

Johnny D. said...

Good stuff, Paul. Thank you for pointing this out. I know he was controversial (to some), but I see him like I see myself. A sinner saved by God's grace.

Paul Burleson said...

Johnny D,

That's the way both Aussie J and I would see him as well. Like us!! "Saved by grace" our ONLY hope.