Goodbye to a Ragamuffin of a Teacher

On April 12 the earth said goodbye to author/speaker/teacher Brennan Manning. He wrote books like Abba’s Child, Ruthless Trust, and most notably The Ragamuffin Gospel.

Photo from

Photo from

I actually got to take in Brennan’s teaching in person at a Compassion Artist’s Retreat in Nashville in 2001. It was one the first times I got be a participant rather than a presenter. It was also unique because the participants were all musicians, speakers, and communicators who spend their life traveling the road using their gifts, skills, and art to help people connect with Jesus and at the same be time an advocate to rescue children who can’t rescue themselves.

I remember being a bit intimated. It was a room filled with my musical role models and people whose mark on Christian music and ministry made a path for me to do what I do. I had feelings of being out of my league, a ministry misfit, unworthy to even sit with them. Wrong? Probably but I was so amazed at the wealth of talent in the room I was giving in to my insecurities of “not good enough” and I prayed “Please, God, help me not miss You.”

When Brennan came out for the first session, he wandered to the front in his white hair, kind of abrasive demeanor and started by saying “I want to put a sign in the entry of my house that says, ‘Don’t come in here and should on me!’”

He then proceeded to spew out words about we need to stop treating each other, and more so ourselves, like we need to try harder, be better, and live with guilt of “if only I would have, should have, or could have, then God would be more pleased with me.”

I was hit with a fire hose of Gospel.

I thought I was there for fellowship and some sweet candy inspiration when I actually experienced two days of a life-changing truth I never trusted: the God creator of all calls me His son and I get to call Him Abba.

It was that retreat where God would start a new work in me through Jesus that would change my songwriting, worship leading, and teaching.

It was where Father’s love would taste like it never had before. Healing started and, to be honest, still continues.

One of my favorite fruits came the weeks after that time with Brennan, a song I am so glad I got to write: “Abba I Belong To You.”

Yep, that’s where it started. Brennan actually taught me the phrase. It has changed me forever, and I have never tired of singing and leading the song.

I never got to see Brennan Manning after that weekend. I wish I could have. I would have loved play the song for him.

Brennan’s life has been recorded as hard with lots of bumps, frustrations, and falls. I get it.

I am also grateful for that window God opened in my heart those spring days in Tennessee and that He used a ragamuffin to get my attention.

I am forever grateful Brennan.

I belong to my Abba Father God. Not matter how many times I “should” on me.

Have you been influenced by the life of Brennan Manning? Have you found the song “Abba I Belong to You” to be helpful?

In memory of Brennan, you can download “Abba I Belong to You” for free at Feel free to share this with anyone who you think would be blessed by it.

Abba adores you.