Reflections on Brennan Manning: A Teacher of God’s Love and Grace

Today 4/13/2013 news that Brennan Manning left this life on 4/12/2013. He was a man of God, a disciple who now has moved on. Yet, he was a teacher of much controversy. The top of the controversy was that he taught “contemplative prayer” with use of things like emptying thoughts and repeating words. This controversy exists and is out there, yet, I have no question that in He was a true follower of Jesus the Messiah. His teaching and from what I understand even his life was fractured and flawed. He knew fully what it was to experience God’s grace. Yet, he is really know different than any other disciple of Jesus. He tought things wrong, he did things wrong, he was flawed. Yet, he knew what it was to be loved by God. He was a teacher and preacher of God’s love. His messages focused on deepening the understanding of God and His love. This is true for me.
I heard Brennan Manning speak at Church of the Open Door in Minnesota two or maybe three times. When he spoke his words and presence displayed and shown the love of God. His words touched to the very core. I do not remember his words or his teaching at that time. I do know what he taught and spoke of on those days changed me. He gave words that brought closer awareness to the love of God. He taught in such a way that got beyond the fractured images I had of God the Father and God used to touch hurt and pain and let God’s love in. God used this man. And for that I am grateful. He served and was used by God and he touch my life and many others. There are a great many quotes out there that demonstrate the truth he taught. It is important to note in God’s economy the words of Love and truth have far greater impact than the things we speak that are flawed, dangerous, or destructive. Truth and love always have greater effect. In closing this article I am posting some Brennan Manning quotes that demonstrate the Truth and Love that he taught that impacted so many.

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”

“In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.”

“God is love. In human beings, love is a quality, a high-prized virtue; in God, love is His identity.“

“God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.”

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

“Christianity was not some moral code; it was a love affair, & I experienced it first hand.”

“If we conceal our wounds out of fear & shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”

Seven ways a Father reflects God the Father

Father’s day is upon us. Father’s are a very important role and creation of God. A Father is a reflection of God the Father. A Father is one who demonstrates in this life aspects of the character of God. The purpose of this article is to examine what does a Father do that reveals an aspect of God to us. The areas examine in this article are demonstrated imperfectly because they are but a reflection and no earthly Father can match what our Heavenly Father demonstrates. There are seven ways that are central to how a Father interacts with his children in some very particular ways that are vital aspects of being a Father. Also it is important to note that these ways of interacting are not just about what a biological father does with his children but also to adoptive fathers and spiritual fathers.

Now before the seven aspects of Fatherhood, this article will focus on it is worthwhile to reflect on the definition of father. Father is someone who has contributed in procreation to bringing life to another that they will educate and raise. A Father is the leader and is responsible for the well-being and care of those under his authority. A Father guides and shapes the direction of his family and helps to encourage the life course of their children. A Father is one who helps others learn what they need to survive and thrive. Actually, the levels and layers of what makes up a Father can be examined extensively. Ultimately, the seven ways of a Father that will be outlined in this article are key to what it is that makes up and defines a Father.

What a Father does is vitally important but often times not fully recognized when effective Fatherhood is demonstrated, but rather in ways a Father fails. Many people have wounds and dysfunctions, which started with the faults of their Fathers. Yet, this article is not about those failures and the ways faulty Fathering create injury. Rather, this article is about discussion what are the essential ways and roles of a Father and how they influence their children and family. So let us look at the Seven Ways of a Father.

Love: This may seem a simple place to start, but it is the starting point. One cannot be a Father without having engaged in acts of loving another. Love is the starting point. A Father above all other ways needs to be actively engaged in loving those for whom he is responsible. In so doing, a Father puts the wants and needs of those under his care above his own. He does anything for those he cares for. The love of a Father is central to what a child learns. The love of a father affects every relationship and interaction that follows. A Father’s love is vitally important and it is the starting point of our understanding of God’s love. How a father interacts and cares for his family and demonstrates love is but a taste of God’s love for us. The more purely that love and can demonstrated, the greater the reflection and understanding of God’s love.

Provision: A father is the chief provider of a family. He is responsible for the well-being of those in his household. It is a God-ordained responsibility to be working for and ensuring the provision of those under his authority. This is a reflection of God being our provider. God has given each of us all we have, and a Father providing for his family reflects that care.

Safety: A true Father will do whatever they can to ensure the safety of those for whom he is responsible. This ensuring safety does not pertain to just the physical safety but rather the whole of the person. A Father is responsible for the emotional, spiritual, relational, and physical safety. This role is a reflection of God being one to provide our safety. There is no greater and nothing more moving than a father assuring the safety of their family and the expense even of his own life. The Pioneer Press has an article about one such father. A daughter is alive today because in a tornado her father covered her, sacrificing himself for her. God also made sure to provide for the eternal security of all who surrender by assuring a way to provide salvation and eternal security and enable a way to be part of His family and have God as Father.

Discipline: This is a vital role for a Father. A Father teaches his house and family the ways of God. He provides discipline when family members stray. The discipline of a father is that which teaches and shows a different way. It helps build the areas of weakness to strengthen those for whom he is responsible. There really is something about a Father’s discipline that lasts and has impact. The words “wait till your father comes home” has power for a reason. Ultimately, the discipline of a father shows his children what ways to walk in and demonstrates that each choice may have consequences. In the same way, God the Father, disciplines us, all to teach us and foster growth.

Training: A Father is one who is responsible for assuring his family and children know they skills they need to survive. A father will help his children recognize what they do well and help them learn and grow. A father shares his knowledge and helps those in his care learn about themselves. Now the training of a father is not often direct, but often will involve experiences that will ensure training. A father sets the course and determines the experiential training in addition to what he models and says. God is all about training his children in righteousness. God uses many means to teach us, including the experience in life.

Encouragement: A father is responsible for building up and encouraging those in his care. He is to find a way to touch the heart and when those he care for struggle, falter, or fail is there to redirect and help them not get overwhelmed with the struggles of life and learning. The words, actions, and behaviors of a father should work to build-up. Fathers are the leaders of their family and a leader is responsible for building up those he serves. The build even gives strong directives for fathers to not “exacerbate” their children. In other words, a father is not to tear down their children and give them cause to be angered or discouraged. A father looks to the welfare of his children and does all he can to ensure their well-being. This is very reflective of God working in our life, building us up in Him. God makes us strong in our weakness.

Blessing: A father is also responsible for actively giving gifts to his children that enable them to grow into who they are. A father will do all that he can to benefit his children. A father will be able to see the potential traps his children might fall in and show them the proper way. A blessing of a father touches the life of children deeply. A father’s blessing is best done by writing or speaking words over their children that will guide their way. God has done this for us. He has given up promises and spoken blessing. He has pointed out a way to walk. He gives us more than we can possibly imagine and enables us to succeed. Blessing is important as it touches all levels of the person with word. Note that God impacts us through His words in our life. The Bible is filled with examples of a Father’s blessing and is essentially God the Father’s words of blessing and instruction to us.

Hopefully in reading this article a greater awareness of the vital importance of what a Father does. Each way highlighted could be examined in a lot further detail. Each of these ways of a father clearly are ways of God the Father and how he interacts with us. We are impacted by our Father some in good ways, some in ways that he fell short.  The important thing worth noting is the actions a Father takes to positively impact his children far out last and have greater impact then the pains caused by the varied weaknesses and failures.  In terms of the ways of a father, in this fallen world fathers often will excel in some areas and falter in other. Selfishness can easily creep where a Father looks to his children for validation rather than being one to lead, guide, protect, and serve his family. Now if you are reading the list and spot dimensions of how your father faltered, there is healing and restoration available even in areas where you may have never experienced. Fathers fail, but God never does. So Father’s seek God to show you in what ways you need to grow as a Father. Examine yourself. We all have wounds, we all fail to live up to God’s standards, for we can only reflect God the Father and the ways we fall short create wounds. Guess what about wounds, God uses them to shape and discipline us, His children, to draw us closer to him.