Brennan Manning on Gratitude


As we’re entering the Thanksgiving holiday season, I wanted to share a quotation from Brennan Manning that has often encouraged me:

“The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness. Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace—as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand. Such recognition is itself the work of grace, and acceptance of the gift is implicitly an acknowledgement of the Giver.” (Ruthless Trust, p. 24-25.)

Reflect: What are some of the specific “Thank You’s” you’d like to offer to Jesus today?

Buy a copy of Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God on Amazon.com

Knowing the Love of God


On Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to share a few words on the deep abiding love of God for us. Few have spoken to me of His love more profoundly than Brennan Manning. Here are a few excerpts I’ve collected over the years:

“When we get waylaid from our walk with God by busyness, depression, family problems, or worse, God does not abandon us. Nor, if we walk the way of trust, do we abandon God. When we wander off the path, that trust pulls us back; and we do not flinch, hesitate, or worry about being unwelcome in the Father’s arms. No matter where we are on the journey, we have a quiet confidence that our trust in God’s love gives God immense pleasure.” (Brennan Manning. Ruthless Trust. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, p. 19.)

“…the heart of it is this: to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.” (p. 49, quoting John Eagen. A Traveler Toward the Dawn. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990, Brennan Manning. Abba’s Child. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1994, pp. 150-51.)

“In a moment of naked honesty, ask yourself, ‘Do I wholeheartedly trust that God likes me?’ (Not loves me, because theologically God can’t do otherwise.) ‘And do I trust that God likes me, not after I clean up my act and eliminate every trace of sin, selfishness, dishonesty, and degraded love; not after I develop a disciplined prayer life and spend ten years in Calcutta with Mother Teresa’s missionaries; but in this moment, right now, right here, with all my faults and weaknesses?’ If you answer without hesitation, ‘Oh yes, God does like me; in fact, he’s very fond of me,’ you’re living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.” (Brennan Manning. The Wisdom of Tenderness. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002, p. 17.)

“…the splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom.” (Brennan Manning. Ruthless Trust. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, p. 2.)

(A repost from February 2010)

Knowing the Love of God


On Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to share a few words on the deep abiding love of God for us. Few have spoken to me of His love more profoundly than Brennan Manning. Here are a few excerpts I’ve collected over the years:

“When we get waylaid from our walk with God by busyness, depression, family problems, or worse, God does not abandon us. Nor, if we walk the way of trust, do we abandon God. When we wander off the path, that trust pulls us back; and we do not flinch, hesitate, or worry about being unwelcome in the Father’s arms. No matter where we are on the journey, we have a quiet confidence that our trust in God’s love gives God immense pleasure.” (Brennan Manning. Ruthless Trust. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, p. 19.)

“…the heart of it is this: to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.” (p. 49, quoting John Eagen. A Traveler Toward the Dawn. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990, Brennan Manning. Abba’s Child. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1994, pp. 150-51.)

“In a moment of naked honesty, ask yourself, ‘Do I wholeheartedly trust that God likes me?’ (Not loves me, because theologically God can’t do otherwise.) ‘And do I trust that God likes me, not after I clean up my act and eliminate every trace of sin, selfishness, dishonesty, and degraded love; not after I develop a disciplined prayer life and spend ten years in Calcutta with Mother Teresa’s missionaries; but in this moment, right now, right here, with all my faults and weaknesses?’ If you answer without hesitation, ‘Oh yes, God does like me; in fact, he’s very fond of me,’ you’re living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.” (Brennan Manning. The Wisdom of Tenderness. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002, p. 17.)

“…the splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom.” (Brennan Manning. Ruthless Trust. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, p. 2.)

(Repost from February 2010)

Buy a copy of one of these Brennan Manning books on Amazon:

Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God

Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

The Wisdom of Tenderness: What Happens When God’s Fierce Mercy Transforms Our Lives

False Self, True Self


This morning, I’ve been continuing to work on a presentation titled “True Self, False Self” I’ll give later this week for a certificate program in Christian Formation and Spiritual Direction offered by Christian Formation and Direction Ministries in San Diego.

One writer who has helped me understand this dynamic in my journey with Christ has been Brennan Manning. In Abba’s Child (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1994) and a chapter titled “The Imposter,” Manning exposes the false self when he says,

“The false self specializes in treacherous disguise. He is the lazy part of the self, resisting the effort, asceticism, and discipline that intimacy with God requires. He inspires rationalizations, such as, ‘My work is my prayer; I’m too busy; prayer should be spontaneous so I just pray when I am moved by the Spirit.’ The false self’s lame excuses allow us to maintain the status quo.” (p. 39.)

“The false self dreads being alone, knowing, ‘that if he would become silent within and without he would discover himself to be nothing. He would be left with nothing but his own nothingness, and to the false self which claims to be everything, such a discovery would be his undoing.” (p. 39)

“Obviously, the impostor is antsy in prayer. He hungers for excitement, craves some mood-altering experience. He is depressed when deprived of the spotlight. The false self is frustrated because he never hears God’s voice. He cannot, since God sees no one there. Prayer is death to every identity that does not come from God. The false self flees silence and solitude because they remind him of death.” (p. 39-40)

“’Who am I?’ asked Merton, and he responded, ‘I am the one loved by Christ.’ This is the foundation of the true self. The indispensible condition for developing and maintaining the awareness of our belovedness is time alone with God. In solitude we tune out the nay-saying whispers of our worthlessness and sink down into the mystery of our true self. Our longing to know who we really are–which is the source of all our discontent–will never be satisfied until we confront and accept our solitude. There we discover that the truth of our belovedness is really true. Our identity rests in God’s relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ.” (p. 51)

At times when you feel an inner resistance to time alone with God or other spiritual practices, how might this be an expression of the false self in you?

In what ways does your heart resonate with the simple statement of identity: “I am the one loved by Christ”? Not loved because of something, but just loved by Christ?

CLICK to buy your copy of Abba’s Child on Amazon.com

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Knowing the Love of God


On Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to share a few words on the deep abiding love of God for us. Few have spoken to me of His love more profoundly than Brennan Manning. Here are a few excerpts I’ve collected over the years:

“When we get waylaid from our walk with God by busyness, depression, family problems, or worse, God does not abandon us. Nor, if we walk the way of trust, do we abandon God. When we wander off the path, that trust pulls us back; and we do not flinch, hesitate, or worry about being unwelcome in the Father’s arms. No matter where we are on the journey, we have a quiet confidence that our trust in God’s love gives God immense pleasure.” (Brennan Manning. Ruthless Trust. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, p. 19.)

“…the heart of it is this: to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.” (p. 49, quoting John Eagen. A Traveler Toward the Dawn. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990, Brennan Manning. Abba’s Child. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1994, pp. 150-51.)

“In a moment of naked honesty, ask yourself, ‘Do I wholeheartedly trust that God likes me?’ (Not loves me, because theologically God can’t do otherwise.) ‘And do I trust that God likes me, not after I clean up my act and eliminate every trace of sin, selfishness, dishonesty, and degraded love; not after I develop a disciplined prayer life and spend ten years in Calcutta with Mother Teresa’s missionaries; but in this moment, right now, right here, with all my faults and weaknesses?’ If you answer without hesitation, ‘Oh yes, God does like me; in fact, he’s very fond of me,’ you’re living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.” (Brennan Manning. The Wisdom of Tenderness. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002, p. 17.)

“…the splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom.” (Brennan Manning. Ruthless Trust. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, p. 2.)

Buy a copy of one of these Brennan Manning books on Amazon:

Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God

Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

The Wisdom of Tenderness: What Happens When God’s Fierce Mercy Transforms Our Lives

Merry Christmas to my Friends


Had a beautiful walk on the beach at Crystal Cove above Laguna Beach this afternoon. I am deeply grateful for the beautiful part of the world God has planted us. Below is a little post from October on the connection between gratitude and grace. May your heart be warmed and encouraged by Immanuel–God with us–today.

CLICK for “A Good Word: Gratitude & Grace

Thanksgiving: An Antidote for Many Ills


Though I’ll post this on Thanksgiving Thursday morning, I’m writing on our Wednesday morning drive from Mission Viejo to Sacramento. Gem and I have made this annual drive now twenty-five times.

For Thanksgiving, I’ll share a thought on the theme from Brennan Manning. (I posted these lines on their own last month):

“The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness. Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace—as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand. Such recognition is itself the work of grace, and acceptance of the gift is implicitly an acknowledgement of the Giver.” (Brennan Manning. Ruthless Trust. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, p. 24-25.)

While I was in the Dominican Republic over the last two weeks, I had an interesting conversation with the director of YWAM for the Caribbean. He shared the insight he had heard that gratitude is an antidote for pride. How? Because gratitude is remembering in God’s presence that all that I am and all that I have is really a gift from God. My life is a gift of His creation and His redemption. Gratitude is acknowledging grace. It is a way of affirming that the best work in my life has been and is being done by Another hand.

For what are you grateful on this day? Here are some of my gratitudes:

  • I thank God for countless evidences of His hand at work in and through me in the Dominican Republic. I’m especially grateful for my friends, Samuel & Kendra Luna, who are extending the ministry of The Leadership Institute there among missionaries and Dominican pastors.
  • I am grateful for a good reunion with my bride and my boys, especially as we share this annual drive north together.
  • I am thanking God for many new insights into unhurried time with God that I’ve learned while I was away that I will be writing up in December.
  • I continue to thank God for places of soul healing I’m experiencing in a therapy journey over the last eighteen months.
  • I’m grateful that in the midst of a down economy and some challenging debts, we are wealthier than we’ll ever imagine. (I see in my mind’s eye the very simple way of life of many of my Dominican brothers and sisters.)
  • I keep thanking God for the privilege of leading leaders into His presence through many different kinds of retreat. Recent days of retreat have been especially encouraging in impact and fruit.

In the midst of your favorite Thanksgiving foods, how do you want to acknowledge your own debt to the generosity of God today?