Glorious Ruin Excerpt

Christianity is in no way a stoic faith. It fundamentally rejects the “stiff upper lip” school of thought. Unfortunately, some Christians are guilty of throwing out an equivalent sentiment when they play the “God is sovereign” card as a way to trump every evil that comes your way.

“Sure, trouble will come, but don’t cry,” says the Sovereignty Card Stoic. “Don’t allow yourself to feel deep, painful emotions. After all, God is in complete control. If you show lack of self-control, you must not be living in faith.”

The less traditional version of this religious stoicism is what is known as the prosperity gospel. Taken to the extreme, the prosperity worldview essentially makes the experience of brokenness and pain the fault of the sufferer because of the inability to muster enough personal faith. I’ve actually heard people say that we tie God’s hands when we don’t simply reach out in faith and take what He promised. Whether it’s money, health, or success, we suffer in life because we haven’t exercised our faith.

If you have heard—or are hearing—these kinds of things, someone is lying to you. Such responses to pain and suffering are utter folly. This is not a biblically faithful way to respond to suffering, and neither does God treat it that way. According to Romans 8, the fallenness of humankind has cosmic ramifications. We live amid devastating brokenness, and the cure for this is nothing less than Jesus dying on the cross for sinners like you and me.

Tullian Tchividjian, Glorious Ruin




Friday Quote and Sermon

“The chief means of resisting manipulation is humility – knowing who we really are and facing it. You can only serve by love. You can only love by choice. True love cannot be the result of decree, force or manipulation. Jesus always kept his strength to make loving choices. He calls us to make loving choices necessary to be the servant of all. Humility permits me to own my feelings – and to admit them. Now I’m free to say, ‘I’m angry’. I’m free to admit what I am reacting to. I am free to ask if anger is what the person wanted to produce in me, and to ask for help in changing if my reaction is inappropriate.”

-Gayle D. Erwin, The Jesus Style

You can find subsequent parts (2-4) in the YouTube sidebar.

I Call You “My Friend” by Brennan Manning

The following is an excerpt from a Brennan Manning sermon that I have probably listened to at least a dozen or more times. Yes, it’s that good. You can find the sermon below the post.

It was about 24 years ago.  I woke up in a doorway on Commercial Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  I woke up in an alcoholic fog, sniffing vomit all over my sweater.  I was staring down at my bare feet:  I didn’t know a wino had stolen my shoes during  the night to buy a bottle of Thunderbird.  I’d been out on the street about three weeks, sleeping out on the beach until the cops caught me, under the bridge, in doorways.  I was panhandling enough money to get a quart of vodka every day.  Same filty clothes, rancid body odor.  And I lived to drink.

And that morning, I see a woman coming down the sidewalk, maybe 25 years old, blonde hair: attractive lady.  She’s got a 4-year-old son in her hand.  The boy broke loose from his mother’s grip, ran over to the doorway and stared down at me.  His mother came up quickly behind him, cupped her hand over his eyes and said, “Don’t look at that … FILTH!  All that is is pure filth!”

And about 24 years ago, that “filth” was Brennan Manning.  And the God I’ve come to know, the Jesus I have met in my own life, loved me as much THAT morning in a state of DISGRACE as He does tonight in a state of grace, for his compassion  is never, never, NEVER based on our performance. Jesus told us, “I don’t  call you ‘servants’: I call you ‘my friend’.”  If someone accepts you DESPITE all your faults, that is not total acceptance: a friend accepts you WITH all your faults.

I was in the gutter for 18 months, with alcohol a total compulsion in my body, and a complete obsession in my mind.  My family: I lost them.  My friends wanted nothing to do with me.  I was such an embarrassment, such a source of shame.  And my closest male friend, Paul Sheldon, every two weeks he flew, at his own expense from Mobile, Alabama down to Ft. Lauderdale, and he sat on the curb in the gutter with me, with his arm around me.  He didn’t give me any lectures, he didn’t give me any ultimatums.  He just said, “Brennan, I love you.  And you’re gonna be O.K..”  And twice a month for a year and a half, he was down there, just sitting with me, buying me some breakfast, just holding my hand.  And for me, Paul Sheldon was the human face of Jesus Christ.

Disappointing People

Ghost Tree

Brennan Manning wrote in his memoir All is Grace:

“As I think back on my childhood, the word shame serves as an umbrella. It is the sense of being completely insufficient as a person, the nagging feeling that for some reason you’re defective and unworthy. That’s how I felt all the time.”


That’s how I’ve felt my whole life.

The umbrella of shame has followed me everywhere I go. I may walk out from under it for a while, but still it lurks closely behind and I eventually find my way back to its dark shelter.

There were other factors involved, but when it comes right down to it, that insidious shame, coupled with my fear of disappointing people and facing their rejection, was what ultimately led to thoughts of suicide three years ago. I was nearly ready to throw my life away because I was afraid of people…fellow sinners, fellow disappointers? It seems ridiculous, but it’s true.

My masks were being yanked off, my idols were being stripped away, and who would I be without them? Who would love me if they knew the real me – the absolute mess me, the me who daily wakes up well aware that I fall short of the world’s standard, and most especially the “victorious Christian” standard?

When I fall short of peoples’ expectations, I’m that scared little girl again, filled with debilitating shame…afraid to be left behind.


What if ALL my masks fall off? What if ALL my idols get stripped away? It would hurt like hell, but I think it would be the beginning of freedom. Then I could let those who are willing to stick around love me for me.

Jesus knows everything about me and He loves me as is. That’s pretty amazing!

If I disappoint you when you find out the ugliness, the messiness, the brokenness behind my masks, my prayer is that you’ll stick around to see what God does with all that junk. If you don’t, I’ll hurt probably for a good while…but Jesus loves me, Jesus accepts me..and I’ll ultimately be okay.

“Even if the most important person in your world rejects you, you are still real, you are still okay.” Melody Beattie

“The most broken, powerless and exposed person is the freeest person in the room. Always.” Byron Yawn

If You Have Never


Job’s friends were great counselors, until they opened their mouths. -Tullian Tchividjian

If you have never seen your beloved father take his last breath at 52 years old after a two-year brutal battle with cancer, you can listen to my grief, but you can’t speak into my wounds

If you have never seen your child be poked and prodded for days as doctors and nurses try to find the cause of her medical issue, you can listen to my fear, but you can’t speak into my stress

If you have never had a loved one spend months in a psychiatric hospital crying that they are ready to leave this world, you can listen to my pain, but you can’t speak into the deep cry in my soul

If you have never raised a child without the other parent in her life, you can listen to my hopes for her, but you can’t speak into our daily struggles

If you have never screwed things up so bad that you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel, you can listen to my doubts, but you can’t speak into the source of my guilt and shame

If you have never been hurt in ways that make you feel dirty and shameful, you can listen to my sobs for restoration, but you can’t speak into the tattered pieces of my soul

If you have never been so depressed that you don’t know if you can make it to tomorrow, you can listen to the depths of my despair, but you can’t speak into the source

If you have never walked away from a church because you no longer experience the freedom of the Gospel there, you can listen to my laments, but you can’t speak into my grieving heart

If you have never experienced the panic of having to walk into the doors of another church unsure if you’ll experience the Gospel there, you can listen to my anxious ramblings, but you can’t speak into the chaos spinning in my head

If you have never had a doubt that what you’ve believed your whole life couldn’t be true, you can listen to my questions, but you can’t speak into the place where those doubts were planted

If you must speak, please speak the Good News of Jesus, who has been with me through every single hurt and pain, every tear and secret shame; whose life, death and resurrection has cleansed every single spot and stain.

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality – Henri Nouwen

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

Burdening Questions


“Are you praying enough?”

“Are you reading your Bible enough?”

“Have you confessed every sin?”

“Are you even grateful?”

“Do you know what so and so is going through? Your struggle isn’t as bad as that.”

“Are you serving someone else? That’s the best way to get out of your pity-party.”

…and the list goes on and on.

These questions are hurtful, not helpful. They echo the questions Job’s friends posed to him to try to find some sort of moralistic explanation for his suffering.

Explanations are a substitute for trust. -Tullian Tchividjian

Struggling people need love and listening ears, not lists and questions. Just like Job and his friends, none of us know what God is doing behind the scenes in the life of another person, and we also don’t know his timetable.

Questions, lists, and moralistic assumptions only add exhausting burdens to the heavy load your friend is carrying, and can lead to dangerous despair.

Listening and love are always the best approach. Lighten their load by pointing them to Jesus, who invites the weary to rest.

The List


I have written about the depression I’ve suffered at length in several previous blog posts, but I’ve never shared this list (at least not all of these things). I found this list yesterday on a thumb drive that had been hiding in my desk. Some of these thoughts have been worming their way back over the last few months as I’ve been struggling with some health issues. I was awakened to the truth of the Gospel in that dark night of the soul, but after years of living with a legalistic mindset, it is a daily struggle for me to REST in Christ’s finished work. I’m anxious to share this list, but I know the power of bringing things into the light and exposing the enemy’s tactics.

These are some of a whole slew of lies that the accuser planted in my mind in that dark season….

God could never really love you

Your family has had it with you (maybe some of them have had it with me, but my identity is not in how my family feels about me)

Your daughter is going to hate you (I’m sure she’s had “I hate my mom” moments, but again, my identity is not in how my daughter feels about me)

Jesus died for everyone else but you

Your friends are tired of you

You’ll never change

Your finances are such a mess and they’ll never get better

You’re really not saved

You’re headed to hell anyway, so you might as well go now

You’ve never really been a Christian

You’re going to lose your job and you’ll never find another one

You and your daughter are going to end up on the streets

You are just like Judas (You know, it’s true. I am a sinner. I betray Jesus every time I chose to place my identity in anything other than the life, death, and finished work of Jesus…but even when I falter, He calls me Beloved.)

You’ll never see your Dad again (Dad died in 1999) -This one made me stark-raving mad!!-

I was in the middle of a huge shame storm yesterday when I found that thumb drive. The Lord is merciful to reveal this list to me in His perfect timing. As I drove home from work yesterday, the spirit gently whispered that I was not resting in the Father’s words that proclaim:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 ESV

I cried out asking for help to believe.

The father of lies…the father of legalism, moralism, performancism, is the devil. As Steve Brown says, “He will use 99% truth to float one lie, if that will render impotent the most amazing truth ever.” 


And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Revelation 12:10 ESV

I know some of you will be concerned about what I’ve shared here. Don’t worry, I’m getting help, but I always welcome prayers.