Justification by grace through faith is the theologian's learned phrase for what Chesterton once called "the furious love of God." He is not moody or capricious; he knows no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us: he loves us. He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners. False gods — the gods of human manufacturing — despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. But of course this is almost too incredible for us to accept. Nevertheless, the central affirmation of the Reformation stands: through no merit of ours, but by his mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of his beloved Son. This is the Good News, the gospel of grace. Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel)
Monday, July 27, 2009
In the late eighties, Brennan Manning spoke at my college (The King's College). After his talk, I left staggered. He was brilliant, humble, down to earth, and deeply knowledgeable of the Gospel of Grace. I immediately read his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel. A few years later, Catherine (my wife) and I would read Lions and Lambs together while dating. Since then, Brennan has written Ruthless Trust and The Furious Longing of God and has traveled the world as a ragamuffin evangelist. His words and work are incredibly relevant today and I would encourage anyone who has lived with the context of a strict religious environment where grace was absent or anyone who has lived within a strict religious environment where grace was cheap, to consider reading some of Brennan's work. it will do your soul well.
Growing up, my step-dad (dad to me) used to quote a variety of lines from cowboy, action, and car chase movies, One of his favorites was the Clint Eastwood line from Sudden Impact, "Go ahead, make my day."
Watching movies with dad was an important part of our relationship and I treasure the times we went to the theater to watch films like Rocky, First Blood, Walking Tall and Dirty Harry and Crazy Mary (a 70's B movie). As I look back, I realize that almost all the movies my dad really liked were movies were a man made a strong stand against tyranny or corruption in the midst of huge amounts of personal sacrifice. As I look back my dad's life so far, I realize that the stories that he loves are stories that he has lived. Perhaps not with a gun in his hand (maybe a shovel or a lug wrench!), but definitely with a stance against tyranny and corruption and a willingness to sacrifice tons for his family and the people he has called friends and neighbors.
When I recently watched Gran Torino, tons of memories of watching Eastwood films with dad came back to me. And, when the film ended, I realized that it was a fitting example of the life of my dad- a life of sacrifice and valor (fought out in the garage and on the front lawn) for what is good, and right and true.
If you have not seen Gran Torino, watch it. Excusing the language, it is an amazing film about what it means to be a man (an American man) who loves through his life and actions far more than his words and intentions.
Friday, July 10, 2009
On Friday, July 10th, at 5:10 I will be on the John and Kathy show (101.5 Word FM). We will be talking about the richness of relationships (as in human contact, human service, the human family, etc) in a world that presses us to make power, prestige, possessions, and experience or main priorities.
The subject for this show came to me after hearing Shannon Tanner sing the Trace Adkins Song, Your Gonna Miss This while I was on Vacation in Hilton Head Island, SC. All of us grown men sat there crying and I thought, "Yup, this is what it is all about. We just need to store up our treasures in heaven by investing in the people we love and the people we live with and around. That is what makes life rich."
Tune in Live by clicking HERE