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Brennan Manning – April 27, 1934 – April 12, 2013

My mentor, my friend and the man who helped me experience myself as “The Beloved” is finally free. There are two people in my life who taught me the real meaning of grace, Bill Counts and Brennan Manning. Bill changed my experience of the grace of God and put me on a spiritual path that totally changed the trajectory of my life. He also taught me how to extend grace to others and how to develop communities of grace. Then, in 1995 Brennan Manning wrote about and modeled an intimate picture of God’s radical grace for me personally; and that gift molded my life, saved my life and changed hundreds of others lives’ who have been involved in our work through Barnabas. It is the reality that God is simply crazy about me and the “relentless tenderness of God” that continues to be the truth that I stand on when I believe I am unworthy and unlovable. Brennan put it this way,

“Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity; that He loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain; that He loves you when your emotions refuse it and your whole being rejects it? Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation, and He loves you this moment as you are, not as you should be?”

The first book I read by Brennan was Abba’s child. It is the most significant piece of literature I have in my library. I’ve read it over and over again and still cannot take in all the depth of its meaning. After the life changing impact from Abba’s Child, I read every book written by Brennan Manning.

Having been seduced by Brennan’s writing, I ask him to speak at a Women’s retreat. To my great surprise he said yes! Through the years he also agreed to lead a silent retreat and speak at other events. He spent time with me telling me the truth about how God views me. One afternoon I sat across from Him and confessed my deepest fears about life and about myself. He took my hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “Abba loves you perfectly, as you are. There is nothing you can do, nothing you can say, that can make God love you more or make God love you less.” I believed him.

Brennan also taught me about prayer. He taught me to breathe in with the word, “Abba” and breathe out the phrase, “I belong to you.” So when the dark voices of my mind tell me I am unworthy, when my life is falling apart, when I think it might be time to check myself in, I stop and simply breathe, “Abba, I belong to you.” With each breath I come again into the presence of the one who calls me His beloved.

If you know anything about Brennan you know that he struggled with alcohol addiction and other behaviors that hurt the people he loved. But that never kept him from believing and accepting God’s love and redemption… over and over again. It was his inability to conquer his demons that brought him to leave us with the profound message “All is Grace.”

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