Thursday, July 25, 2019


 This month, Michael Brunner, son of Charles Manson, gave an interview for the first time since 1993.  Michael Brunner comes across as a soft spoken laid back sort.  Not at all what one would expect from the son of, arguably, the most notorious mad man in American history. In the interview, Brunner spoke about his life, growing up, and his adult years, and the one thing which came across was how utterly normal he is.  Absent was the expected self pity of a man growing up in the shadow of a beast, missing was the darkness one would expect from a man wrestling with the fact he is the spawn of evil incarnate.  Instead, what you will find, is a man who genuinely seems like a nice guy, who has lived a productive life.          

      What about you?  Are you a product of your heritage or environment?  Are you a prisoner of your past or a victim of your lineage?  Have you allowed circumstances beyond your control to determine your destiny?  These are all traps set for you by the Great Deceiver, designed to destroy any chance you have of finding true peace and purpose.

         Everyone has obstacles in life, granted, some more than others, yet history is rife with people who overcame incredible odds and did great things.  Also true, prisons, rehab centers, homeless camps and cemeteries are filled with people who were unable to shake free of  poor parenting and dark family histories.  

           What determines the path of being an overcomer vs. being a victim of circumstance?  How can it be when out of three children in one family, presumably raised the same , one goes into ministry, one becomes president of the United States and one becomes an infamous drunk with a novelty beer named after him?  Personal choice and the exercise of free will.

            Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Notice what this passage does not say: "unless your parents abused you, or you were bullied, or your spouse was unfaithful, or you come from a long line of drunks, or, or, or...."  God makes no caveat, creates no loophole and leaves no room for excuses.

            Horrible things happen to children everyday. There is no way to sugar coat or minimize this truth.  People do unthinkable things to other people. Trauma is real.  So is the power of God to overcome trauma, deep hurt and devastation.  God will never call us to or require us to do something for which for which He will not empower us.  

           It isn't even about choosing the narrow path, it's about choosing God, who will place you on the narrow path and guide you along. It's all God.  In fact, it takes us acknowledging we cannot do it under our own strength.  Every aspect of our relationship with God is acknowledging our weakness and failure, understanding He has made a remedy for our inability to please Him on our own. 

             1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

               We all face temptation to do bad things. Some of us struggle in areas others do not.  What we all have in common is a God who provides a way for us to not give in to our strongest, darkest urges.  God is not some cosmic killjoy who arbitrarily prohibits us from fun.  God has set us parameters to keep us safe, both physically and spiritually.  In addition, God offers us the opportunity to rely on His power and strength to avoid what He has forbidden.

            Some are predisposed to certain bad behavior. This is indisputable.  Whether it is due to trauma, genetics, poor discipline as a child or any other number of reasons.  "That's just how I am" is the motto of cowards who are willing to admit there is a problem, but not willing to address the problem, deciding everyone else will just have to put up with whatever erratic or self destructive behavior they exhibit.  It is also the motto of the defeated who may have genuinely attempted to change, only to realize they did not have it in them to accomplish the task. 

             Often, destructive behavior took years to develop and rarely ends immediately after a single prayer or commitment to God.  Destroyed relationships take time to rebuild, consequences for past misdeeds my stick for life.  These are all hard truths of the Christian faith often not mentioned from the pulpit.  Listening to some of our more popular voices, one might be led to believe the Christian life is rainbows, unicorns and ice cream and if you're not experiencing these, you're not doing Christianity right.  

             So what value is there in pursuing God and allowing Him to bring restoration?  Breaking the cycle of broken relationships, breaking the cycle of personal failure, breaking the cycle of self destructive behavior.  God offers the opportunity to be a new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

          The opportunity to break free of a heritage or past trauma is a gift God offers His children.  You do not have to allow your past to govern your future. Neither your heritage nor your victimization has the right to determine the script of your life.  Instead, you can get a re-write by the Author of Life, Himself.  

           You are highly treasured and valued by God, no matter what anyone has led you to believe. The late Brennan Manning stated, "every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."  Do not be discouraged looking at the lives of those who seem to have it all together or who appear to have never suffered anything in life, you may be surprised the things from which God has delivered people you know.

           My prayer is, if you have suffered because of circumstances beyond your control and suffering has led you to self destructive behavior, you will know, today, you are loved and precious. You can find freedom in Christ from the prison of your past, forgiveness for all you have done and acceptance in a community of believers, many of whom, have overcome the very things with which you are struggling.

            Jesus calls you to Himself, arms wide open, offering shelter, love, forgiveness and peace. Jesus has a better plan for your life.  Won't you fall into His arms today and find shelter from the storms of life?

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell


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