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August 2, 2007

The Ragamuffin

I'm working through another Brennan Manning book called "The Ragamuffin Gospel". I've found his books refreshing, honest and candid in a world of deception and redirection. By the way, I'm talking about the church when I say that. We waste time when we criticize the world. They are dead in their sin. It is absurd to hold them to any righteous standards. They are lost and need a Savior. Our desire to lay the burdens of this age on their shoulders is mis-direction and childish. We must be willing to examine our own hearts and look in the mirror and take responsibility. Not responsibility for changing the world, but responsibility to be honest with ourself and strip away layers of pride. Only then can the life of Christ really shine and make a transforming difference in the world.

I'm convinced we are often our worst enemy. Our real enemy, Satan the accuser of the brethren, has only to convince us that we are in no need of God. He caters to our pride and we are all to eager to agree with his flattery. Our first response to the drawing of the Holy Spirit through conviction is that someone else we know would benefit from that message. We are more than willing to discuss others faults and shortcoming at the drop of a hat, and we do it in such a prayerful, self righteous way, but we keep our own faults hidden behind layer after layer of denial. We build up our own success on the backs of other hurting people, ignoring their needs because we know we really don't have an answer that works. Thats the problem with the "Christian" religion that we practice and most of the world sees. When we live for ourself out of duty to Christ and not in devotion to Him, we have no answers and there is no power. Where are the real, true, self sacrificing, devoted followers of Jesus Christ?

Yes, self is our worst enemy. Self hinders and thwarts the calling the the Holy Spirit for growth and change in our life. Self likes its self and wants to stay that way. Self puts off till tomorrow what God wants to change today. Self takes the easy route, the safe route, the non-demanding, unaccountable route. Self isolates us to protect itself from being discovered as a fraud. Self covers itself in religious pride. Self sacrifices others to lift itself up. Self desperately tries to keep its true sin nature hidden and under control. Self manipulates the ideas and opinions of others to maintain its own false image. Self thinks it can make it on its own. Self denies and rejects the saving love and grace of the Father through Jesus Christ.

Of course I'm sure you have figured out by now I am talking about my own self. I am that prideful, false, self absorbed, deceitful person. When I look in the mirror and finally get past all the layers of mis-direction and manipulation, I see a ragamuffin, desperately in need of a Savior. I am nothing without Him, and all I can do is fall at His feet and say Yes Lord, I need you. I am hungry, weak, wretched, blind, naked, and poor and I need you.