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12 Quotes from Abba’s Child

img_4539Many Christians have bought into the lie that we’re worthy of God’s love only when our lives are going well. If our families are happy, our careers successful and our life is good, then God loves us. But when life gets hard, and our sins threaten to reveal our less than perfect self, we scramble to present our good self to the world and God, as if God’s love for us is conditional.

Yesterday, in watching the movie Ragamuffin, the story of contemporary Christian recording artist Rich Mullins, I was struck by the depth of God’s love and how He accepts us just as we are. And I was also reminded of the teachings of Brennan Manning, whose words have inspired me over the years to freely accept my identity in Christ, as a beloved child of God.

Deeply affected by God’s extravagant grace, I spent the morning, pulling out some of the nuggets from Brennen Manning’s book Abba’s Child. And to reinforce some of those ideas, I thought I would post 12 of my favorite quotes from the book to challenge us to embrace our acceptance in God’s eyes.

  1. Jesus says, “Acknowledge and accept who I want to be for you: a Savior of boundless compassion, infinite patience, unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs. Quit projecting onto Me your own feelings about yourself. At this moment your life is a bruised reed and I will not crush it, a smoldering wick and I will not quench it. You are in a safe place.”
  2. Self rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that call us the “Beloved.”
  3. In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.
  4. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.
  5. The pharisee within usurps my true self whenever I prefer appearances to reality, whenever I am afraid of God, whenever I surrender the control of my soul to rules rather than risk living in union with Jesus, when I choose to look good and not be good, when I prefer appearances to reality.
  6. To open yourself to another person, to stop lying about your loneliness and your fears, to be honest about your affections, and to tell others how much they mean to you – this openness is the triumph of the child of God over the pharisee and a sign of the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit.
  7. Feelings put us in touch with our true selves. They are neither good nor bad: They are simply the truth about what is going on within us.
  8. In my experience, self-hatred is the dominant malaise crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit.
  9. Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper but only his child redeemed by Christ.
  10. Genuine faith leads us to knowing the love of God, to confessing Jesus as Lord, and to being transformed by what we know. 
  11. God is love. Jesus is God. If Jesus ceased loving, He would cease being God.
  12. Through His passion and death Jesus carried away the essential sickness of the human heart and broke forever the deadly grip of hypocrisy on our souls. He has robbed our loneliness of its fatal power by traveling Himself to the far reaches of loneliness (“My God, my God, why have You deserted Me?”). He has understood our ignorance, weakness, and foolishness and granted pardon to us all (“Forgive them, Father, they do not know what they are doing”). He has made His pierced heart a safe place for every defeated cynic, hopeless sinner, and self-loathing derelict across the bands of time. The Cross reveals that Jesus has conquered sin and death and that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of Christ.

Resurrection

fastTomorrow we celebrate resurrection! Resurrection is the great announcement of the momentous fact that Christ has finished the work He came to do. Resurrection brings tremendous hope, not only because it proves Jesus’ deity, His power over death, and His victory over Satan, but it’s a grand announcement the each one of us can experience that same resurrection power in Christ. You see, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the greatest comeback in the history of mankind and we celebrate the hope that is our in Christ!

As some of you know, I dedicated the last 40 days, the season of Lent, to fast from Facebook. In actuality, I never broke the fast on Sundays and really fasted for 46 days. The announcement of my fast was the third most read post in the history of my blog. It generated discussion and it motivated others to consider fasting from it as well. And while that is all great stuff, the greatest thing the fast did, is what it did for me. You see, this Facebook fast sparked in me a sort of resurrection of my heart.

As I said in my announcement, I imagined that I would have more time, more joy, a deeper conviction with God, become more connected to friends, be more present with family and be more content. And all that is true. However, deeper than that, I felt something lift within my spirit, that I haven’t felt for a long time. Perhaps it was the joy and contentment I felt I would experience, but I know it wasn’t a circumstantial feeling. It was much deeper than that. And I remember telling a friend, “I feel alive again” in the very early stages of this fast and wondering if it was simply the entrance of spring or the fast. I choose to give credit to God’s work in my life, as I practiced this spiritual discipline in my life.

This past week, as my son Zach and I were rounding the corner to our home, he asked me if I would continue my fast from Facebook. When I asked why, he stated that he “enjoyed spending that extra time with me” and that “he didn’t want it to end.” And while I didn’t make the promise that my fast would continue, I did promise that my management of Facebook was going to significantly change. You see, while I currently plan to keep my account, my plan is to keep it simply as a tool of communication and significantly limit the amount of time I spend on it. But if I see my moods and behaviors shift, well then I will need to reevaluate this decision all together and perhaps pull the plug for good.

Resurrection gives hope! It signals that we get a new start. It reminds us that the victory is ours in Christ. I am grateful for resurrection. And I am looking forward to relating to Facebook in a new way because of the renewed sense of God’s resurrection power I have experienced in these last 46 days. To God be the glory!

Heaven is For Real Movie Review

MV5BNjc3MzYzMTUzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTYzNzI2MDE@._V1_SX214_I just returned from having the opportunity to see an advance screening of the movie, Heaven is for Real, which releases nationally on Wednesday, April 16. In case you missed the book’s national prominence, Heaven is for Real, is the true story of a four-year old boy named Colton, who experiences heaven during an emergency surgery. After his near death experience, Colton talks about looking down to see the doctor operating on him and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family doesn’t know what to believe about Colton’s experience, so they doubt, but soon the evidence is clear.

Having not read the book, I didn’t know what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised. Overall, I felt that the film delivered an entertaining, moving and inspirational perspective on the topic of heaven. In fact, I would say it was probably one of the most professionally done “faith-based” movies I have ever seen. The cast is solid, the acting stellar, and Connor Corum, the 4-year-old boy who plays Colton, is simply adorable. In addition, Greg Kinnear turns in a very emotional performance as Todd Burpo, the father/pastor who is faced with whether or not to believe his son’s account of “Heaven.”

While I appreciated the authentic portrayal of a pastor who struggled with doubts, how to pay the bills, and his own sense of pride, I did feel that the producers muddled the message about heaven, most likely to make it easier for the non-Christian community to swallow. However I will say this, there was no compromising of the message that heaven is the place where Jesus resides!

Although I did have some issues with the film, I believe that the film will serve as a great conversation starter to get people talking about God, heaven and the afterlife. And that’s what director Randall Wallace and the producers likely had in mind. I also believe that the movie can prove to be very healing and hopeful for those who’ve experienced loss and need to be reminded of the fact that heaven IS for real! Therefore, I would encourage you to go and see it.

Why I’m Leaving Facebook

fastI joined Facebook in 2008. I don’t think at the time, I really understood the implications of this platform. It was new. It was fresh. Everyone was doing it. I joined the craze.

I wanted to buy stock in Facebook when it went public in 2012. I’m glad I didn’t.

But in 2014, I have decided it’s time to leave Facebook! Well at least for a while. You see, I’m giving it up for Lent.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter in which Christians pray, fast, contemplate and engage in acts of spiritual self-discipline. According to my friend, David Timms, professor at William Jessup University, “Lent provides a prayerful rhythm for our lives. It invites us to fast from something that is significant to us, and a regular part of our lives. And our fast is a trigger for prayer. Every time we think of (or desire) what we’re fasting from, we are to pray instead. Not necessarily lengthy prayers, but breath prayers. In short order we find ourselves praying more often throughout the day and living with a heightened sense of God’s presence.”

So for the next 40 days, I am going to be fasting from Facebook! But during this time, I’m really going to pray about leaving Facebook all together. Or at the least, create new rhythms in my life, whereby I am less attached to it.

Facebook was a significant way to connect with friends and family when we lived in Southern California. In fact, it helped us bridge the distance in incredible ways. However, over the last couple of years, Facebook has become a huge distraction and terrible time waster for me. So with that, I am going to test the waters and see how life is different without it. And here’s what I imagine is going to happen…

I will have more time!

I will have more joy!

I will have a deeper connection with God!

I will be more connected to friends!

I will be more present with my family!

I will be more content!

So if you want to catch up with Bryan, I suggest you visit my blog. I’m looking forward to the journey. Perhaps you might even consider joining me.

Best Commercials of Super Bowl XLVIII

Super_Bowl_XLVIII_logoWith the Seahawks blow out in SuperBowl XLVIII, one would hope that the commercials would bring some fun and entertainment to televisions biggest sports event. However, I have to admit that this years line of commercials left me highly disappointed and wanting more. Like last year, I avoided watching the Super Bowl commercial previews, except for two, so I had a spirit of anticipation going into the game, but just wasn’t wowed. However, the commercials that did get me, where the ones that celebrated America’s patriotic spirit and the people who make this nation great, much like last years line up of favorites. And I was super grateful that most of the commercials were family friendly.

So without further ado, here’s my line up of favorites:

Best Overall: Budweiser Puppy Love

Funniest: Radio Shack

Most Inspirational: Duracell

Honorable Mention: Chevy

What was your favorite?

In Memoriam: Billy Hardwick

1452215_10152408124337222_1751868859_nThis past Saturday, my Uncle Bill, a PBA Hall of Famer and two-time PBA Player of the Year died of a heart attack at the age of 72.

In what is described by the PBA, as one of the greatest turnarounds in professional bowling history, my uncle, Billy Hardwick went from a rookie PBA Tour season in 1962 failing to cash in a single event, to winning four titles and becoming Player of the Year the very next season. His first major title came in the 1963 PBA National, which was followed by a PBA Tournament of Champions win in 1965 and the Bowling Proprietors Association of America All-Star (now U.S. Open) title in 1969. He won a then-record seven PBA Tour titles in 1969 to earn his second Player of the Year crown. Over his professional bowling career, he had 18 PBA Tour titles, three of which were majors that earned him PBA’s Triple Crown. He was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1977.

While our family didn’t often see my uncle, due to his travels and our families geographical distance, he still made his way into our living room each week as we watched him bowl on national television. Rated #12 in the Top 50 PBA Bowlers of all time, he bowled with an elite group of bowlers such as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber and Nelson Burton Jr..

Yet despite the fame, my uncle’s life wasn’t an easy one. He had early onset rheumatoid arthritis that caused him to leave the PBA Tour at an early age. In addition, he lost two children, who both died as infants. However, in the last couple of years of his life, he seemed to find contentment and make peace with his past.

My Uncle Bill will be missed. Our family loved him. And he made us proud. Today my thoughts and prayers go out to my dad, my aunts and my cousins. I pray that the God of all comfort would bring us all peace, as we remember and give thanks for Billy Hardwick.

How Do You Manage Your Digital Life?

digital-worldI’ve been trying to achieve something that may be impossible…creating a way to synchronize my digital life and my real life, so that I can meaningfully accomplish things in both areas. Now I consider myself a bit of a techie. And I’ve usually been an early adopter to technology. I opened my Twitter account back in 2007. I joined Facebook in 2008. And I am usually the first in the office to update software. But lately, I’m struggling with how to manage learning curves that come technological advances like an iOS7 update, as well as managing social media and the different ways people communicate.

Perhaps I’m just getting old, but consider this. Today, I had a senior citizen from the church call me on the phone to talk, I had a millennial texting me with questions and information on my cell phone, I had instant messages on Facebook from friends and family, I was inundated with emails, I received two direct tweets from friends and I had a Skype conference call with a church leader.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, because as a former communications major, I love all the various ways and methods to communicate. But as you can see, generationally and professionally we all have different preferences of communication. Notice the inclusion of the demographics associated with the preferred styles of communication above. The professional wants everything documented, so they email. The millennial doesn’t want to answer my call, but will text instead. The senior citizen doesn’t have email and prefers to call and talk over the phone.

So, here is my question…how are you all managing all this? Seriously, with so many ways to communicate, what have you found to be the best way to navigate all these various platforms…voice mail, email, texts, letters, etc.

Along with that, I am desperately trying to move away from paper and integrate meeting notes, task lists and streamline things to be more productive. However, I am finding the apps I’m using don’t necessarily sync well between my computer, my tablet and my phone. I’ve tried Evernote and Wunderlist, but so far not wowed by either. So I would be interested to hear what you’re using and what’s working for you.

Long ago we were promised that technology would make our lives simpler. And in many ways it has. But it has also made our lives a whole lot more complicated. However, as hard as we try to hide from technology…it is there, staring us in the face. So what’s working for you? I’m curious. Give me your thoughts!

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