Brennan Manning knew what it was to be bedraggled, beat-up, brokenhearted ... a ragamuffin. Despite being a priest, author, and speaker, he also struggled with alcoholism throughout his life. His alcoholism led to the failure of his 18 year marriage (after he left the priesthood). He truly understood what it meant to live in grace, to know you didn't deserve it.
With his death in April, 2013, Zondervan has published a new NIV Bible with quotes and devotional excerpts from Brennan Manning sprinkled throughout its pages. This is the updated NIV translation, as opposed to the original 1984 NIV. The Ragamuffin Bible is a sturdy hardcover, with a dust-jacket and a beautiful photograph of an old church door on the cover. There are 104 one-page devotions in the Bible, 250 short reflections and 150 quotes - all from Brennan Manning.
I have to admit that I hadn't kept up with Brennan Manning's life in more recent years. I didn't realize he'd had repeated lapses into his alcoholism or had a divorce. It was sad to read one devotion, written in the midst of one of his relapses and marriage troubles, where he states that he probably won't hear "Well done, good and faithful servant." I wish that one devotion had ended with a more encouraging word ... but it reminded me that Brennan Manning has never tried to paint a rosy or perfect picture of himself. He has always been brutally honest, and he openly admitted his faults and failures.
"To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace. Honesty keeps us in touch with our neediness and the truth that we are saved sinners." ~ Brennan Manning
Maybe I haven't struggled with alcoholism, but I have struggled with my temper and my words. Maybe I haven't had a failed marriage, but I have failed to put my husband (and others) first at times. God uses ragamuffins to reach others and show His love to those around us, and He has used Brennan Manning.
I know that the NIV Ragamuffin Bible will be a blessing to all those who feel the weight of their sins and failures weighing down on them, who need to be reminded that God's grace covers all their sins. Repent, be forgiven, go forward in grace. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2
This is not a study Bible. It doesn't have cross-referencing or commentary notes. It doesn't have the words of Jesus in red. It is a devotional Bible, but it does contain the full NIV Bible.
The NIV Ragamuffin Bible is a beautiful book for any Christian who identifies with Brennan Manning's writings, who feel beat-up and bedraggled ... or for those who feel unworthy of Christ and need to know God's love and grace is for them, too.
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