Here are two wonderful presentations of, ‘A Beautiful Gospel’!
Brian Zahnd and Brad Jersak both show through this simple approach/telling, how we Christians have too often made the ‘Good News’ not so good..but then they show/tell it as it is..the greatest news of all! A Beautiful Gospel indeed!
On April 12th 2013 Richard Francis Xavier Manning known to us as Brennan Manning, was caught up into the furious longing of his Abba. He was a man who had struggled all his life with his humanity. “When I am honest, I admit that I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt. I hope and I get discouraged. I love and I have. I feel bad about feeling good. I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games.”
When ambushed by Jesus, Brennan’s life though broken in many ways was caught up into what he called the furious longing of God. He knew that Jesus not only loved him, but liked him. Saved by grace and called to preach grace, he never stopped, though at times crushed by the impostor he had wrestled with from his youth, he pressed on because he was caught up in the love of his Abba. For those of us who have found ourselves broken, dirty, messed up, ragamuffin’s, outcasts, prodigals wrestling daily with sin, hoping against hope that God would still love us, Brennan would resound with the heart of God and take you again and again to the feet of Jesus.
“For those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God, it requires enormous trust and reckless, raging confidence to accept that the love of Christ knows no shadow of alteration or change. When Jesus said ‘Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy burdened’, He assumed we would grow weary, discouraged and disheartened along the way.” Brennan knew this from experience and he wanted to pass on what he had received from the Lord, “…..I have received from the Lord Jesus….His unconditional acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be. He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of His gospel or I don’t. He comes to me where I live and loves me AS I AM….Will we let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch others, so that they may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave dare not go?”
In his book the ‘Signature of God’, Manning wrote of a dream he had of the last judgement and how he was there with a multitude of people and famous personalities, his name is called and he writes; “I hear my name: “Brennan.” As I step forward, like a bell sounding deep within my soul, I hear the words of the poet T. S. Eliot, “O my soul, be prepared to meet him who knows how ask question”
The Man looks directly at me and then looks through all my bluff and pious rhetoric, through the content of my books and sermons, through all the minimizing and justifying of my lifestyle. For the first time in my life, I am seen and known as I really am.
Trembling, I ask, “What is my judgement, Lord?”
He hands me the Book. The word I spoke has already judged you.” A long pause…then he smiles. I walk up to him and touch his face. He takes my hand and we go home.”
Brennan has now gone home to his Lord, to his Abba and yet his writing and thoughts will continue to encourage, edify and comfort all who are seeking a true and living relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ will return in glory. Every man who has ever drawn breath will be appraised, evaluated and measured solely in terms of their relationship with the Carpenter of Nazareth. This is the realm of the really Real…..The eschatological lordship of Jesus Christ and his primacy in the created order (see Ephesians 1:9-10) are at the very heart of the Gospel proclamation. This is reality.
If I ask myself, “What am I doing walking around this planet? Why do I exist?” as a disciple of Jesus I must answer, “For the sake of Christ.” If the angels ask, it is the same answer. “We exist for the sake of Jesus Christ.” If the entire universe were suddenly to become articulate, from north to south and east to west, it would cry out in chorus, “We exist for the sake of Jesus Christ!” The name of Jesus would issue from the seas and mountains and valleys, it would be tapped out by the pattering rain. It would be written in the skies by lightning. The storms would roar the name “Jesus Christ, God hero!” and the mountains would echo back. The sun on its westward march through the heavens would chant a thunderous hymn. “The whole universe is full of Christ!”
This is the Apostle Paul’s vision of creation, his Christocentric concept of the universe. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1: 15 – 16)
If there is any priority in the personal or professional life of a Christian more important than the lordship of Jesus Christ, he or she is disqualified as a witness to the gospel. Since that glorious morning when Jesus burst the bonds of death and the messianic era erupted into history, there has never been a new agenda, new priorities, and a revolutionary hierarchy of values.
The Nazarene Carpenter did not simply refine Aristotelian ethics; he did not
merely reorder Old Testament spirituality; he did not simply renovate the old creation. He initiated a revolution. We must renounce all that we possess, not just most of it (see Luke 14:33). We must give up the old way of life, not just correct some aberrations in it (see Ephesians 4:22). We are to be an altogether new creation, not simply a refurbished version of it (see Galatians 6:15). We are to be transformed from one glory to another, even into the very image of the Lord – transparent (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). Our minds are to be renewed by a spiritual revolution (see Ephesians 4:23).
The primal sin, of course is to go on acting like it never happened, basing our lives on pop religion and the power of positive thinking, trendy spiritualities and power politics, rather than on the Sermon on the Mount and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
With Manning, “I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behaviour or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery.”
Remembering Brennan Manning !934 – 2013
Michael Daly, CJ
April 13th 2013
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1: 1 – 5
As we enter into 2013 it is like a new beginning. But, all of our beginnings have an end unlike ‘The Word of God’ in the above verse. Thomas a Kempis wrote, “Happy is he that always hath the hour of his death before his eyes and daily prepareth himself to die”. King David wrote, “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am ….Certainly every man at his best state is but a vapour” (Ps. 39:4-5).
Our Lord Jesus in teaching us to pray, prayed, “ Our Father who art in heaven….give us this day (today) our daily bread….”. He further taught us not to worry about tomorrow or about what we should eat…or what we should drink…or what should we wear….
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25 – 34)
My plea to you for this New Year is to try to live each day as though it were your last! Try not to get bogged down with the worries of the world and the worries of tomorrow. We are told to Live by Faith and not by Sight. (2 Cor.5:7) So let us, every day, try to keep this injunction from the Lord.. always before us.
The world will fill you with fear….you just have to look at the TV or read a paper…it is full of doom and fear mongering and it can feed your soul so that you lose your peace…if you allow it to! The greatest strategy of the enemy of your soul is to make you believe a lie. Satan did this from the beginning and he has not changed. ……Are you really safe when the whole economy is collapsing….are you really safe when diseases are now becoming resistant to medicines…are you really safe when drug addicts run riot in towns and cities, when guns are so available and life is so cheap…are you really safe at work when so many businesses are going under in this downward economic climate…..are you really safe….? He prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour you ( 1Peter 5:8)….the roar is to paralyze you with fear, but we are told to stand firm and resist him! This comes by first humbling ourselves under God’s might hand, for we are called to cast all our anxieties upon Him…because He cares for each and every one of us.
Practice the Presence of God daily and rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 24)
My precious Sisters and Brothers, this is my prayer for you today and always.
Thank you for all you do and for your encouragement in word and deed.
Be blessed and live loved
A little brother
Br. Michael Daly. C.J.
Servant of Communion.
The Little Portion
St Barnabas Church
East Sussex. TN40 1JG
Telephone: (+44) 01424 210036. – Church Office
If your Christianity is marked by a long face that is absent of joy…then this blog may help reunite you with the tender, terrifying, playful, wonderful God you’ve replaced with religious duties and rigid rule keeping. Come and laugh with me….may the joy of the Lord be your strength!!
Br. Michael Daly. C.J.
Four worms were placed into four separate jars.
The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.
The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.
The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.
The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.
At the conclusion of the sermon, the Priest reported the following results:
So the priest asked the congregation – “What did you learn from this demonstration?”
Michael was sitting in the back of the church, quickly raised his hand and said,
“As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won’t have worms!”
A man is stumbling through the woods totally drunk when he comes upon a Baptist preacher baptizing people in the river. He proceeds to walk into the water and subsequently bumps into the preacher. The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of alcohol, whereupon he asks the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?” The drunk answers, “Yes, I am.” So the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water. He pulls him up and asks the drunk, “Brother, have you found Jesus?” The drunk replies, “No, I haven’t found Jesus.” The preacher shocked at the answer; dunks him into the water again for a little longer this time. He again pulls him out of the water and asks again, “Have you found Jesus, my brother?” The drunk again answers, “No, I haven’t found Jesus.” By this time the preacher is at his wit’s end and dunks the drunk in the water again–but this time holds him down for about 30 seconds and when he begins kicking his arms and legs he pulls him up. The preacher again asks the drunk, “For the love of God, have you found Jesus?” The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher, “Are you sure this is where he fell in?”
Br. Michael Daly. C.J.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a godly person. Yet when I look at the yesterdays of my life, what I see, mostly, is a broken, irregular path littered with mistakes and failure. I have had temporary successes and isolated moments of closeness to God, but I long for the continuing presence of Jesus. Most of the moments of my life seem hopelessly tangled in a web of obligations and distractions. I want to be a good person. I don’t want to fail. I want to learn from my mistakes, rid myself of distractions, and run into the arms of Jesus. Most of the time, however, I feel like I am running away from Jesus into the arms of my own clutteredness. I want desperately to know God better. I want to be consistent. Right now the only consistency in my life is my inconsistency. Who I want to be and who I am are not very close together. I am not doing well at the living-a-consistent-life thing. I don’t want to be St. John of the Cross or Billy Graham. I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost 60, and I fail on a regular basis.If I were to die today, I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like “He was a nice guy” or “He was occasionally decent” or “Mike wasn’t as bad as a lot of people.” Unfortunately, eulogies are delivered by people who know the deceased. I know what the consensus would be. “Mike was a mess.”
Mike Yaconelli. ‘Messy Spirituality’
Br. Michael Daly. C.J.
Lord of reality, make me real,
not plastic, synthetic, pretend, phony,
an actor playing out his part – hypocrite.
I don’t want to keep a prayer list
– but to pray,
Nor agonize to find Your will
– but to obey what I already know,
I don’t want to argue theories of inspiration
– but to submit to Your Word.
I don’t want to explain the difference between eros and philos and agape
– but to love.
I don’t want to sing as if I mean it
– I want to mean it.
I don’t want to tell it like it is
– but to be like You want it.
I don’t want to think another needs me
– but I need him, else I’m not complete.
I don’t want to tell others how to do it
– but to do it;
I don’t want to have to be always right
– but to admit it when I’m wrong.
I don’t want to be a census taker
– but an obstetrician
Nor an involved person, a professional
– but a friend.
I don’t want to be insensitive
– but to hurt where other people hurt
Nor to say “I know how you feel”
– but to say, “God knows”
and “I’ll try if you’ll be patient with me”
and meanwhile I’ll be quiet.
I don’t want to scorn the clichés of others
– but to mean everything I say
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9-10)
Br. Michael Daly. C.J.
Brian McLaren writes in his blog that the Franciscans have got it right on climate Change. McLaren is speaking of a short statement on ‘Global Climate Change’ from a Franciscan fraternity in the USA http://www.hnp.org/jpic/pdf/HNP-Statement-on-Climate-Change.pdf. But have they got it right?
I am somewhat bothered by the way we as Church can get so easily caught up into this fear driven mentality which seems to be driven more and more by the world’s agenda wrapt up in a kind of pantheistic blanket. Having looked into the data we have on Climate Change, I am not satisfied that there is any scientific evidence for what is being preached. In regard to current Global Warming I read that “it is very likely human –induced”… which is but one quote from a US top scientific body.
My sincere concern for my Franciscan brethren and for the Church is that we do not allow the diet of the world’s smorgasbord to become ours……I fear …. it may already be too late……..!