My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ & I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it. — Brennan Manning

I was sad to hear of the passing of Brennan Manning.  I had the privilege of meeting him in 1999 with a small gathering of pastors in Oregon.  His passion for helping others see the unyielding love of Abba was, and is, infectious.

For those unfamiliar, Charisma News has a good summary of Manning’s life.

Brennan Manning, the Christian author, Franciscan priest, speaker and theologian best known for his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, died on Friday following several years of declining health. He was 78…

A prolific writer who once released nine books over a two-year stretch, Manning was known as a fierce advocate for the marginalized, poor and church-abused. His Ragamuffin Gospel, released in 1990, was billed as “good news for the bedraggled, beat-up and burnt-out,” and heralded Jesus’ gospel of grace over a works-based salvation. The book became an oft-quoted classic for many well-known authors, artists and musicians, including Michael W. Smith, Michael Card and the late Rich Mullins, whose Ragamuffin Band was named after Manning’s book.

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle,” Manning wrote. “That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

I think there is no better way to memorialize Manning than to put the focus back on the love of our Father.

People are hurting.  People are suffering.  People are seeking compassion and love, and often find very little of it.  All too often, hurting people find religion, judgment, and condemnation.  What they seldom find is healing from Jesus.

Matthew 12:10-21 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He ​says to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. “He will not quarrel, nor cry out; Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. “A battered reed He will not break off, And a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victory. “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

I listened again this past week, to the very message I heard more than a decade ago and I was touched again by the peace of Christ.  This is not a sound bite. This is not a short clip. This is a message that made a difference in my friendship with Jesus and my love for Abba.

If you are hurting, alone, suffering, or afraid of being rejected by Jesus, then please listen to this entire message of Divine-compassion. You won’t regret it!

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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