Finding God’s Rhythm in the Darkness

It’s finally out!

I read this book over a year ago to Sara on one of our driving trips to Denver to be with our son. It’s the second part of the three-part Velieri Uprising, a series of books that take on big themes like identity, spiritual warfare, and human conflict in a fictional setting. Here’s the endorsement I wrote for the book:

Intimate as well as epic. Tessa Van Wade has crafted a compelling adventure of a young woman’s search for her soul while on the run from those who would destroy her to save themselves On the fate of the world hangs in the balance.  Entertaining and eye-opening!

If you haven’t read Part 1, Out of the Shadows, you will want to start there. In it, Tessa sets up this fantastic world where forces of good and evil converge through the perspective of a young woman who finds out her past was much more than she ever thought it was. Is she the Willow she believes she is, or is she Remy, a warrior who was killed battling a savage enemy that a mysterious stranger says she is? Accepting his version will change her forever.

Deep Trace is the second book, and like no other book I’ve read, it unpacks how we “take every thought captive (2 Cor. 11:5)” so that we can focus on the rhythm of God coursing through our veins. I was going through a complicated relationship in my life at the time, and this book described so well what I faced and how to work through it.

Where the first book is a thrilling action read, this one is a psychological struggle to win over the thoughts of darkness preying on her mind and to find that heartbeat of God’s wisdom and direction that would prevail over the lies and pretensions of darkness. Tracing is what the enemy does to draw into his lies and illusions. Deep tracing is how we get underneath those attempts and find God’s peaceful rhythm that allows us to push aside those things that seek to manipulate us.

I’ve called it The Matrix meets The Hunger Games, but with a powerful redemptive theme. It is a fantastic read that will stir your heart and help you be more aware of how it is that God invites us into his ways.

Then, I got this email yesterday from someone who just read Deep Trace. Here’s what they said:

Deep Trace reminded me of the Divergent series, Inception, and the Matrix all in one, but with added spiritual awareness. I find the exploration of trauma timely, given the conversations that have been swirling around The God Jouney (as well as mine and the group of which I’m part) of late! I can tell I will be chewing on this one for awhile, and re-reading it at some point, since I almost swallowed it whole.

There’s a third book coming down the pike to wind this story up, but you won’t be disappointed reading this one and how this story unfolds. She describes a battle we are all engaged in and gives some helpful cues to find our way out of the darkness and discover how to pace ourselves in God’s light.

You can find out more about Tessa from her website.

The Gift of Sight in the Valley of Pain

Two nights ago, I sat among giants.

Five people, each of them, had come face-to-face with a conflict between their consciences and the system of power that held the keys to their salary and advancement. And they each chose to follow their nudging consciences growing deep within them. For three of them, it was a recent experience.

And it cost them—relationships with “friends” and family, reputation, salary, and immediate fulfillment of their ministry aspirations. They were threatened by people they had previously admired, ambushed by those who could easily use deceit as a weapon, and rejected by those who had previously affirmed them.

Their choices led to dark days of pain and agony. Falsely accused and isolated, they second-guessed their consciences and questioned the God who had not intervened on their behalf against those acting in unGodly ways.

But in those long days of darkness, their hearts grew. They began to see the difference between human power and God’s authority. They came to see the full fury of a religious system more obsessed with power than truth and healing, even for their own people. They

When they saw through the illusion of power and how far it would take them off course from the passion, they hold for Jesus and his people. They discovered that grief and disappointment can lead them into a rich vein of God’s wisdom and that enduring the affliction of others would only increase their compassion for the broken and wounded.

Some were still in the throes of that process, but I was touched by each person’s heart and honored to hold their stories and honor their choices. Two were black men who expressed the added pain and exploitation of the racial realities behind the choices of white leaders who had exalted them and then turned on them. One was a woman with little power to resist the manipulations of the men who decided her fate. Their added powerlessness multiplied their pain and negated their attempts to be treated graciously.

And yet, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of their desire to choose authenticity over expedience and truth over comfort.

I heard the exact words reverberating in my mind that Jesus spoke to the disciples one afternoon in Matthew 13, “To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom…” Others would have to content themselves with parables they didn’t understand because they choose the illusions of reputation and power over the pathway that leads to life.

I’ve been honored to meet many such people throughout the last thirty years of my journey. Each time, I’m reminded of Jesus’s words,

Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.

I know it doesn’t feel like joy, which I suppose is why he said, “Count yourselves blessed.” At the time, it doesn’t feel like a blessing. However, being lied about, insulted, or excluded by those you love is not the end of your journey; it’s the trailhead into a journey for which your heart has truly hungered.

Follow your conscience beyond the wall of illusion, and you will find the rich, fulfilling reward of a life well-lived that will be worth whatever price you had to pay to get there.

And all of heaven applauds.

Can You Help Us Yet Again?

Sara and I have come vertically through Michigan and landed close to Benton Harbor in the southwest. God has seemingly opened a wide door here with lots of connections I tried to get to a few months ago, before our Unforeseen Circumstances. And new doors open every time I check my email. It’s going to be tough to figure out what we can do here and still have time for our larger mission, which is Sara’s continued joy and freedom.

From here, we’re headed to Indianapolis and then on to Columbus, Ohio, next weekend. The conversations we get to have amidst the incredible journey Sara and I get to share have been deeply touching.  Here’s one look at a group we met with a couple of nights ago. Lovely setting, lovely people, moving conversation.

The real reason for this email is to ask for your help. I don’t ask for myself; I never do. But the email below arrived in my inbox yesterday with the picture at the top. I don’t use these things gratuitously. My heart is deeply pained by the incredible need in the northern reaches of Kenya and the failure of that government or the U.N. to be in this region with resources to help. People are dying by the thousands, and the world is mostly unaware.

We do not even try to meet all of the needs there. But when the friend of a friend is watching people die before his eyes, and we can send some money to help preserve life, we try to do what we can.

Here is what they wrote:

Hi brother Wayne and the team over there. Sorry, we are writing to you the sad report for hunger, so that you may pray and see if there is any ability over there to help a little with this situation. We can’t hold our tears for what is taking place in the Northern parts. We have received this report live from our brother Peter who came all the way from Amakuriat, where we drilled our first borehole.

He told us that he could not bear to watch the people who are dying in front of his eyes, and He said that this water we drilled it has become a life-healing tool to save hundreds of lives in that region. But now the hunger has swept almost five villages around Amakuriat, which are in danger of losing lives. Amakuriat is on the border of Turkana and North Pokot.

More than 400 families with over 5000 people are affected, including children, old aged, and breastfeeding moms. The indigenous fruits have been dried out, and other agencies Peter has connected them to cannot help because of Turkana region is very big, with the same situation everywhere.  They are helping those areas, but cannot help here, so he decided to run personally to see if we can connect to you again to see if you can be able to share with the team for urgent help.

We have the need together:
1.    100 bags of maize for $ 4000
2.    40 bags of beans for $ 4800
3.    Transportation and fuel 700$
Total prayer request $ 9,500

Yours,
Brother Thomas and Michael

Simply, we need your help. As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer feesPlease see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to @LifestreamMinistries or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Thank you for your consideration and prayers for the people of Kenya.

The Jake Colsen Book Club – Chapter 6

The next meeting of the Jake Colsen Book Club has been set. For those interested, we work through So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore chapter by chapter in a series of Zoom sessions where you can share your insights or ask questions.  You don’t have to have been to a previous one to join this one. 

This Saturday September 24, at 11 am PDT, we will gather with those who want to discuss Chapter 6: Loving Father or Fairy Godmother?  This strikes to the heart of so many people’s expectations of God, especially if they are wanting to explore the depths of his love for them.

Please read or re-read the chapter first if you want to join the conversation.

If you’d like to join me in the Zoom room for the discussion, email me at waynej@lifestream.org in the next few days, and I will send you the link to join us.  For those who just want to watch, I’ll be streaming it from my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.

You can also find the five previous conversations of the Book Club if you scroll down that Author Page.

Moving On

This week we will be working our way through Michigan. That’s the team up top on an early morning walk to the Peninsula Lighthouse near Rapid River. It’s been glorious here with the people we’ve spent time with and some new folks we met. Also, Sara and I were the only ones in the RV Park we’ve had for the last two days. In the woods, all by ourselves. It was great!

Today we’ll move to Mackinaw City and the day after to Traverse City. Everything is going well for the RV, for which we are grateful. The problems have been sorted out.

The itinerary we’re looking at now looks something like this:

  • September 21-22: Traverse City
  • September 23-27: We’ll be in southern Michigan and hanging out with folks near Grand Rapids, perhaps Kalamazoo, and on Sunday/Monday be in South Bend, IN with Gil Michel and his fellowship
  • September 28-30:  Indianapolis, Indiana
  • October 1-2ish: Columbus, OH area
  • October 3ish-10: Big Prairie, OH, with Harvey, Monica, & Company

Beyond that, we have no idea yet if we’ll head down the Blue Ridge or turn back toward Kentucky and Tennessee.  We’re learning to live in the spontaneity of every day and see what Father shows us. If you’re interested in connecting with us in some of these areas, please write me and see what we can work out either with our hosts or with a personal opportunity to chat or go for a walk together.

This is really a treat, getting to tour the U. S. with a renewing Sara, to enjoy not only the beauty of the landscape we journey through but also the connections Father is giving us along the way.  We had some amazing conversations with people this weekend, and one of the great things that came out of our time yesterday is helping people normalize their Jesus journey.

So many people have expectations of how God should speak to them or what a quiet time should look like every day that they can easily miss the gentle and subtle ways God invites them into his reality each day or the gifts he is giving to them even through very difficult circumstances.

I love that word, normalize. When we stop looking for things as we think they should be, then we can see God as he is making himself known.  Recognizing that will help you find an easy freedom in him.

As one woman said to me years ago in New Zealand, “I’m beginning to believe that the reason this journey seems so difficult is because it is far simpler than we dare to believe.”

That it is. We make it too complicated, and Jesus is inviting us into a simple, powerful, transformative relationship in our growing confidence that we are deeply loved and that he is closer to us than our very breath.

When Something Horrible Comes Your Way

Over the past sixteen days, we have traveled almost 2908 miles from Thousand Oaks, CA, to Duluth, MN, and we are having a wonderful trip. We’ve moved from 100 degree days in Wyoming and Denver, to waking up to a 40 degree morning.

Sara and I are having the most wonderful conversations with each other and others along the way who are on a journey to find their freedom in Christ. Sara’s continuing journey through trauma has encouraged many people and opened doors for people to discuss their own places of brokenness and how Jesus might want to bring healing to them.

After Duluth, we are headed to Minocqua, WI, Escanaba, MI, Traverse City, MI, and then to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and South Bend, IN. This trip is still unfolding, but it has become a treasured adventure for Sara, me, and our two dogs. We’ve had our share of RV issues but have managed to resolve them all so far and enjoy our tiny home on wheels.

In the aftermath of the Redeeming Love podcast series, I received this email. I’m sure it will touch many others because Sara and I have heard it expressed by many people. Just because something horrible happens to you doesn’t make you horrible, no matter how deep your feelings.

I was reminded of that recently in an email I hope encourages many others who harbor hidden thoughts of being horrible, shameful, or unworthy of love for any reason;

Thank you for sharing so boldly and honestly about what you have been through recently. I have cried with you and rejoiced with you.  My husband and I, who have listened to all seven podcasts together, have nodded in recognition as we recognize the same patterns in our lives. Thank you for your honesty and openness, Sara, in an area I know all too well.  Hearing you makes me understand myself better.

Wayne, you stayed in our home during a visit to Europe a few years ago. I had intended to write to you to tell you about something that changed in me after your visit. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now. I believe it was God’s plan all along. You probably don’t remember it, but I blurted something out during breakfast on Sunday morning.  Something I don’t usually share. I told you that I thought I was evil.

For some reason, you started talking about the processes we go through when we build trust in God. Those spaces we trust him create safe spaces so God can expand those spaces. I remember you made a circle with your hand as you explained. For some reason, this conversation turned something inside of me.

After our conversation, I could no longer believe my thoughts about my being evil. The thought, or the lie, had been a part of me for as long as I could remember.  All my actions acted out of that awareness, so when that thought became absurd and even incomprehensible, it actually caused me some uneasiness.

Although I think it is an enormous freedom, and I see that it has opened me up to let both God and people approach me more vulnerably, I have struggled to understand it.  And since I did not understand, I became anxious that I was in self-denial and in opposition to the truth—that the truth was that I was still evil, but that now I could no longer accept that truth. It made me feel like I had lost control.

Hearing you, Sara, tell that you thought you were a horrible person, and the explanation you got about this, was so good for me to hear as well. It is so liberating to understand that it is the evil deeds that were done to me as a child, that created a thought in me that I was evil and not the other way around.

I just wanted to let you know how meaningful your visit has been to me, Wayne, and how good it is to put into words and understand myself better after listening to Sara, you, and Kyle.

I could write you several pages about things that have been enlightening and good for me, but I hope this little testimony will encourage you as you have encouraged me.

That it did. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and how some comments from me helped shape a new trajectory in your life. Sara and I have had this conversation with many others in the last few months.

Something horrible or evil might have happened to you, but that doesn’t make you horrible or evil. Somehow the brain often defines the people by their trauma, especially in young children. I don’t know if that’s the brain on its own or the enemy gets a hand in there, too, but it’s cruel for the victim of abuse to go away from the incident thinking they are bad. It increases the trauma and smears their future.

I get it. The person abusing them has some delight in it, and especially when children are too young to realize what is going on. They have to think they are the problem, not that something horrible is being done to them.

When trauma surfaces, remind yourself that whatever happened to you is in the past and it’s not happening to you now. Don’t let the brokenness of another person define who you are. This is where a conversation between you and Jesus can be really helpful—a conversation that may last for months or years.

We’re talking a lot about restored innocence on this tour, something foreign to many people. After all, shouldn’t we know better? Haven’t we done things we knew were out-of-bounds to God? How can we be innocent when we struggle and fail with sin or trauma?

That’s the miracle of the cross. We are washed, cleansed, and made new by his work so that each morning we wake up in the innocence he gives us, and we can learn to live in that innocence every day. Thus, we can come to God in confidence that we are deeply loved, that he sees us not as damaged goods or co-conspirators in sin, but beloved children who are harassed and helpless against the chaos of a broken creation.

To the Father, you are his beloved child that he wants to redeem for your freedom and joy. Trauma and sin don’t make you less loveable to him but even more endearing. Don’t believe the lie that exempts you from his love and care. It is Father’s greatest desire to rescue you from whatever calamity has befallen you and establish you before him as an innocent, beloved child.

No matter who tells you otherwise, even yourself, consider his words:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end-
Because I am GOD, your personal God
I paid a huge price for you .
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
“So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.”
(Isaiah 43:1-5 The Message)

On to the Upper Midwest

Today we finished up in Colorado and are heading up north to Wyoming to spend some time with my podcast co-host Kyle Rice and his family in Torrington, WI.  We’ve had a number of options from there but what has most settled in our hearts is a wide open door in Duluth, MN and then head through the upper Midwest—across Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—before heading south. I was supposed to be in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and South Bend earlier this spring so I want to make good on those. From there, we will head east through Indiana and Ohio, to a possible retreat in southern Ohio.

We’d planned on visiting some friends in South Dakota on the way to Duluth but not having heard back from them we are now considering an alternate route through Nebraska and part of Iowa. If you’re along that route and would like to connect, please email me.

We’re not trying to figure it out beyond that. After Ohio we could head into New England for some good friends and fall beauty, turn back through the lower midwest, or even head south through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.  We have lots of invitations no matter which way we go, so we’re holding that in prayer while we see if Jesus has a preference for us.

If you haven’t kept up with Sara’s and my story in recent weeks with the Redeeming Love Podcasts, this may all catch you by surprise. It has brought some real changes to our life that are glorious, but it was through much pain and transformation. Sara and I are now touring the U.S. with our two big dogs in our RV, both for our own personal refreshment and connection as well as to share his light and love where God might invite us.

We are keeping to a very spontaneous protocol for our trip. We don’t want to chase a hard and fast schedule that means we can’t linger in places where Father might lead us. Instead, we are hoping for open doors to have conversations that matter with people who care when we pass through, trusting that those he wants us to be with have a hole in their schedule that will fit a hole in ours.

We’re really open at this point. We don’t want to be a burden on anyone and are taking responsibility for our own expenses, so this isn’t about creating “ministry” opportunities at all, especially for any financial reason. It’s just an opportunity for us to encourage others while exploring the U.S. in the aftermath of Sara’s traumatic discoveries.

We’re also not trying to draw crowds, but to simply celebrate the conversations that help encourage people to Life.  If you have any questions or thoughts, let me know. As always there is NO pressure whatsoever. It’s just an opportunity, should Father put anything on your heart.

And if you want to keep up with us, keep checking this blog or sign up for Travel Notifications and be sure to include your zip code so we know about where you are.  https://www.lifestream.org/content/signup-lifestream-email.

I’m also updating people through my Instagram feed with one-minute videos on reflections from our spiritual journey. You can subscribe at wayneatlifestream.

We’re almost two weeks out and having a wonderful time with each other and the people Father has led us to.  I even got this text after spending time with a young family:

I appreciated your desire to engage with our kids. (One of them said yesterday, “Wayne is so funny who wouldn’t want to hang out with him?” That is high praise from a 14-year-old.

High praise indeed.  I’m so blessed they, too, enjoyed our time together. I certainly did. And I’m looking forward to whatever Jesus has for us in days to come.

Recapturing Innocence

We know that Sara had her innocence stolen at four years old. Instead of growing up with the heart of a playful child, she lived guarded, navigating the terrors of the trauma she didn’t understand. Instead of a carefree childhood, she learned to survive, especially when criticized.

Retreats have not been one of Sara’s favorite environments. There were too many people to engage, too many expectations to manage, and trying to stay hidden when her husband was often the focus wore her out in only a few hours. It was a joy to watch her share her story, hold other people’s stories, and freely participate in meals, conversations, and play without wearing herself out. I sat back and watched the honesty, kindness, and wisdom she displayed just being herself around others who were also navigating their own pain.

God is changing her, and I’ve had a ringside seat to watch it all unfold. As the trauma gives way to Father’s healing, she is recovering the innocence she lost long ago. She laughs more heartily, shares more freely, and can express her curiosity in ways that open doors in the hearts of others.

It all made for a treasured weekend. The people God drew to Westcliffe were just the right ones for the time he wanted us to have together. So many had faced trauma in their lives and still were. I think some doors were opened to help people discover new pathways to their own innocence.

We spent a lot of time on Sunday contemplating how important it is for God to restore our innocence if we are going to learn to play in his reality. How can you recognize his love if you feel unworthy of it? How can you be at rest in his goodness if you are still performing to try to earn it or focused on your weaknesses and failures? What Jesus accomplished on the cross cleanses us so that each day we can become freshly innocent before him. That allows us to hold onto his love and cease our self-effort. Then, we can let him play with us like little children as he invites us into the truth that will liberate us from the lies of darkness and the condemnation of our damaged minds.

I was half-joking when I playfully called this trip Sara and I are taking a Return to Innocence Tour on a recent podcast. But, at least, this first stage has become that. Innocence allows us to participate in God’s grace without guilt or shame, to see who we really are beneath the disappointments and failures that seem to pile up in a broken age. I suspect we’ll be talking about it a lot more in days to come and in conversations across this country.

On a personal note, Sara and I, along with our pups, made it to Golden, CO, yesterday afternoon, where we will hang out for at least this week. We have a son nearby and are enjoying a chance to catch up with him. We also have a septic leak on the RV, so it’s in the shop today getting repaired while we sit outside Panera. This is our second attempt to get it fixed, and we’re hoping this one takes.

We’ve heard from so many people celebrating Sara’s journey with us and letting us know they have some similar needs and experiences to sort out with God. We appreciate every email and invitation to visit and are excited to see where God points us and how we can help others recover their true nature from the lies of darkness.

Even at the retreat, we prayed not just for those who were able to attend but for God’s children across the world. You can join us. Ask God to help you recapture that sense of innocence that will allow you to rise above the harassment of a broken world and catch the wind of the Spirit that will elevate your heart into God’s reality where light always wins over darkness, truth over lies, and healing over brokenness.

That’s why Jesus came 2000 years ago and why he draws toward your heart today so that you can know what it is to live free and full in his goodness.

Glad That’s Over!

What a crazy weekend! We packed up 47 years of married life and had to find a place for those things in an 1100 square foot apartment, a 330 sq ft motor home, and even after we gave loads of stuff away we still needed to rent some storage bays. Thanks to the help of some dear friends, we got it all buttoned up and hit the road in our “Living Loved” RV at 2:30 on Tuesday! (Yes, we were both exhausted when we took that photo minutes ahead of hitting the road.)

It took us a while to get out of LA traffic, navigating around five accidents, but we finally arrived in Barstow. It’s a trip across the desert today to Flagstaff, AZ. We are on our way.

Our hearts are full and our future uncertain. First, we’ve got to get to a retreat this weekend in Colorado, and then our schedule is wide open. We will spend a week or so in the Denver area to see our son, head north to Wyoming to see Jess and Kyle, and then perhaps turn eastward through Iowa and into the Midwest. The reason we are posting our location is so that people in the area can contact us if they want to connect as we go through their area.

I’ve begun sharing short videos of my thoughts and reflections on Reels on my Instagram feed from time to time. If you’re not linked up there, you might want to be at: “wayneatlifestream”. They also cross post to my FB Author Page.

And, yes, we are overwhelmed with email from the Redeeming Love podcasts at The God Journey. We will get them answered, but give me some time. Sara and I have been deeply touched by your love and compassion, as well as supportive comments. It’s not easy to go public with some of the things we’ve been through, and yes some people are already weaponizing this story make judgments against us. It still amazes me that people can hear that story and not have compassio for what Sara went through, regardless of what you may not like about me.

In the last gathering of The Jake Colsen Book Club, we discussed how love and honesty are a threat to those living in the darkness. It’s why so many feel the need to hide their story or lie to family and friends just to maintain their relationships. In the long run, it just isn’t worth it. Any friendship you have to lie to keep isn’t truly a friendship. You can view that conversation here.

Our hearts are overwhelmed with so many of you who have also suffered from traumtizing events that went unrecognized or untreated for far too long. So many have told us how little patience their Christian friends have to hold their story and their healing, growing weary of hearing about pain from “so many years ago.”  “Can’t you just forgive, and forget?” they are often asked. They don’t understand that traumatic abuse—whether it be sexual, emotional, physical or neglect—twists something in the brain that changes the way they see life in the present. Without processing those past events in a safe and secure environment, their brains won’t heal. Having someone walk with them in their darkness is one of the greatest gifts they can be given.

Even if you haven’t suffered trauma, learn about it. There are amazing resources available to help you understand your own trauma, or hold the trauma of your spouse, friends, or even strangers who need a safe place to explore their healing.

Here are some of them:

And if you don’t care enough to learn about trauma, please don’t try to help someone struggling with it and certainly don’t put them off by your impatience. I’ve listeend to Sara process her struggle over and over again, as she gains greater footing in Father’s freedom with each re-telling until it no longer impacts the way she lives today. For those who have no tenderness and only want to make accusations, you have no idea how you how you are working against God’s desire to bring them into healing and freedom. What they need is your love, mercy, and support.

And for those of you struggling with dark places in your past, don’t ever give up finding a path to healing. Father has one for you. Trauma is something that happened to you in the past; it doesn’t have to own your present or your future. Our hearts are wtih you in your struggle that you will find all the healing God has for you and supportive voices to walk with you.

Well, time to move on today. I’m going to miss those “office days” of yore, but for now there are more important things on the front burner.

Thank You, from Forkland in Kenya

Let me offer my thanks and gratitude of our friends in Kenya for the recent rescue of three hundred abandoned children in the community of Forkland. We have supported a school there for over a decade because it provides education for students whose parents cannot afford it. Earlier this year, during a deep drought, hopeless and addicted parents could not provide for their children, and en mass abandoned them at the school.

The believers there were overwhelmed with the need and began to care for them. Over the ensuing months, we raised over $200,000 to feed, clothe, and build dormitories for them on the school property. I received this email last week from Michael, a brother who leads the ministry team and the husband of the school’s founder and director.

Brother Wayne, this mighty God we serve all the time He does things beyond human ideas.  We had no idea, plan or projection for this orphan project. We were really surprised after seeing the flow of 300 children including youth, running to our school. It was a big test as to whether we would chase them away or welcome them. We turned to God and in hope and we gave them each a copy of the Swahili book, Nakupenda, He Loves Me. It was just so encouraging to watch them as they began to believe and trust God.

We have a proverb in our Swahili language, translated into English it says, “That generosity is not a demand.” All God has done over there is to melt the heart of the people brothers and sisters, even here in Kenya, to stretch their cheerful hearts towards these starving, innocent children. We didn’t expect any outcome to cover this need, but only wanted to train these kids to use their knees, stretching their hands to God.

As the book of Psalms said, “I will stretch my eyes to the mountains and sees where my help will come from.”  This is what we did and it has brought the entire community to understand that God is love.

The letter comes directly from the Forkland community itself:

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, you may not know us physically, On behalf of the entire team in the Forkland community, we would like to send our gratitude first to the Almighty God who gave you the burden and provisions towards these orphaned children.

We would like to state that all of your family, friends, and relatives will remember this donation you gave. It has really changed and affected the potential and the destiny of these children generationally, starting from food, clothing, medication, shelter, and education as well as spiritual life. They can now understand and experience life with God, having only heard of him for many years without witnessing any manifestation. The Bible says those who help the needy lends to God. In Kenya, we have millionaires and billionaires, but none who care about the needy. You sacrificed a lot even for raising money for our Kenyan family. You support people you don’t know and have not yet met, but you are doing it by faith.

We want to remind you that one day in this life or life to come, God will not forget this giving with a cheerful heart of love. (Hebrews 6:10)

We continue to trust God with you that he will continue opening doors so that you, too may not lack anything. Let Almighty God provide for you and do extraordinary things.

Receive greetings from the entire family of 300 kids for standing with them.

May the Lord bless you, and we want you to understand that we really appreciate and give thanksgiving to God to bless the work of your hand. On behalf of Forkland community,

Brother Michael

If you want to help with the continuing needs in Kenya, we are still collecting money to send their way. As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer feesPlease see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to @LifestreamMinistries or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774

Thank you for your generous hearts toward a people you have never met. I still find that so incredible.

 

A couple of other notes… 

Our next Jake Colsen book club meeting meets this Saturday, August 20, at 1:00 pm PDT. It will stream live on my Wayne Jacobsen Author page on Facebook, but if you want to be in the Zoom room and part of the discussion, email me so I can send you the link. We are reading Chapter 5, Love with a Hook, which explores how religious-thinking people often put demands and expectations on their understanding of God’s love, making it something other than the love God expresses to us.

And, a reminder about our intimate retreat next weekend in Westcliffe, CO where we have been offered a ranch in the Rockies as a place to invite our friends to come and be with us for the weekend. There’s still some room left since we’re throwing this together at the last minute, but you’ll need to sign up with me if you want to come. The cost is $100 per night per person, which includes meals. We’ll start on Friday night and stay over until Monday. You’re welcome to join us for all that or leave on Sunday if you need to. Anyone who feels so stirred is welcome to join us. Here are more details if you need them.

Love With a Hook

John happens upon Jake while he is fishing on the shore of Nellie Lake, eight thousand feet up in the Sierra Mountains and a five-mile hike from the nearest road. Here’s a snippet of their conversation:

“If I remember right, doesn’t your marquee out front promise, WHERE LOVE IS A WAY OF LIFE!

It took me a moment to even remember what he was talking about.  “It’s been up there so long I don’t think anyone even pays attention to it anymore.”

“Obviously.”  John let out a chuckle.

“You find it funny?”  I snapped, not seeing the humor in any of this.

“I’d say more ironic than funny, but that’s the problem with institutions, isn’t it?  The institution provides something more important than simply loving each other in the same way we’ve been loved. Once you build an institution together, you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even love gets redefined as that which protects the institution and unloving as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love.”

“It’s love with a hook.  If you do what we want, we reward you.  If not, we punish you.  It doesn’t turn out to be about love at all.  We give our affection only to those who serve our interests and withhold it from those who do not.”

“What a mess!”

“Do you see how painful it is?  That’s why institutions can only reflect God’s love as long as those in it agree on what they’re doing.  Every difference of opinion becomes a contest for power.”

That’s from Chapter 5 of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore and will be the subject of the next gathering of  The Jake Colsen Book Club. We will meet this Saturday, August 20, at 1:00 pm PDT. It will stream live on my Wayne Jacobsen Author page on Facebook, but if you want to be in the Zoom room and part of the discussion, email me so I can send you the link. We’ll explore how religious-thinking people often put demands and expectations on their understanding of God’s love, which makes it something other than the love God has for us.

How do we live authentic lives in a world that often punishes honesty and vulnerability?

Into the Wind

Here are two important items I want my friends to know:

First, the next gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club will be next Saturday, August 20, at 1:00 pm PDT. I know that’s a bit early in Australia and a bit late for Europe, but I’ve got people from both asking to be included. So, we’re trying a different time. It will stream live on my Wayne Jacobsen Author page on Facebook, but if you want to be in the Zoom room and part of the discussion, email me so I can send you the link.  We’ll be looking at Chapter Five: Love with a Hook, how religious people often put demands and expectations on love, which make it something other than the love God has for us. How do we live authentic lives in a world that often punishes honesty and vulnerability?

Second, I want to invite you to a retreat in Westcliffe, Colorado the weekend of August 26-29, to spend the weekend with Sara and me as we begin this next phase of our lives. For those who have been listening to Redeeming Love at The God Journey, you know the incredible journey we’ve been on these past four months, with the enemy’s attempts to twist Sara’s trauma to destroy her, then, failing that, set out to destroy our marriage. The first five weeks were the most excruciating season of my life, but in the last eleven weeks, I’ve had a ringside seat to watch the most incredible miracle I’ve ever seen in Father resurrecting our love and resolving the trauma that has preyed on Sara since she was four years old.

I told you this would change the trajectory of my life, though I had no idea what that meant when I said it, and to be honest, I still don’t. But, Sara has wanted to go on an adventure, embrace her newfound innocence and explore God’s work in her in this phase of our life. So, we’ve sold our home, something we’ve talked about doing for a long time, even before this trauma hit. We will live out of the apartment Sara rented for the time being and explore the world with an RV we have purchased and our two big dogs—Zoey and Abby. We’re calling it our Return to Innocence Tour, and we’re going to kick it off with a gathering in Westcliffe, CO, where we have been offered a ranch in the Rockies as a place to invite our friends to come and be with us for the weekend.

The camp only holds about thirty, and it’s coming up very quickly, so you’ll need to sign up with me if you want to come. The cost is $100 per night per person, which includes meals. We’ll start on Friday night and stay over until Monday. You’re welcome to join us for all that or leave on Sunday if you need to. Anyone who feels so stirred is welcome to join us. We have no plans for the weekend other than to be with each other and before the Lord together to see how he might enlighten and encourage all of our journeys. It will be a place to be loved and be refreshed in this wondrous love, which he has invited us to share with him. (If you are flying, Colorado Springs is the closest airport, but you can use Denver (usually much cheaper) and have about a three-hour drive to the ranch.)

After the retreat, Sara and I are going “into the wind” for a season. We’re not setting up an itinerary but will allow the Spirit to blow us as we sense he desires. We are going to celebrate this phase of our journey with some sightseeing, meeting with people along the way who want to interact with us, and taking some time in some beautiful spaces to work on the book I’ve been writing. We’re not going to be in a hurry, and we’re not going to plan very far ahead. After Westcliffe, we will spend some time in Denver with our son, probably head to Wyoming to spend a few days with Kyle and Jess, and then turn east and see where the wind takes us. I have some folks in Michigan and Indiana I’d planned on visiting before the days of my unforeseen circumstances began, so we’re going to aim that way, but only God knows if we end up that far or even get to go beyond that.

Please let me know if you’re in those areas and want to connect with us should we pass through. We will update people with our progress as we go on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Facebook Page and this blog as well as the spontaneous opportunities that might await as we travel. And if we can’t make it to your place, maybe you can meet us somewhere where we are. Come sit with us under the awning of the RV and share God’s goodness.

Plans now include returning in November for some surgical procedures Sara and I need to attend to before striking out again as the Spirit might lead. We really have no plans other than those. We know God is inviting us to an uncertain journey, where we flow with his Spirit rather than fit him around our schedules. Even that was tested in the last few days. On the day our house was sold, another home appeared on the market, just what Sara and I had been looking for. We put in an offer, but when the owners countered back, we both had concluded that as wonderful as it was, the process of buying it now was a distraction from the freedom God wanted us to revel in. So, for the first time in 44 years, Sara and I will not own any real estate on the planet, and we’ll be free to go wherever Father might send us for as long as he might want us there. I’m still amazed at how easy it was to let that home go when we knew God was inviting us on an uncertain adventure and that we didn’t need to nail down a new home before we left.

Two days later, someone sent me a quote of mine from a few years back: “If you’re looking for certainty, you’re living in the wrong kingdom.”

It’s fun when your own words come back to encourage you. We are grateful that at this season of our lives, we can spend some quality time together and discover who God wants us to meet and encourage along the way.

Perhaps even you!

 

When God Seems Boring…

I had this email exchange a few months back with a friend in Nigeria who hit a dry patch in his journey. I’m sure he’s not alone in this struggle or his questions, so I thought I’d share that conversation here:

I’m going through a crisis in my life right now, and I would have to admit that it’s tearing me apart and turning my world upside down. I have never felt so lost.

In the past, I used to wonder why people didn’t just have a relationship with God and why they always said he wasn’t conversing with them. I would usually respond, “You don’t know what you’re doing. Just sit there and read the Bible. That’s what relationship with him is.”

Recently I started to discover that reading the Bible and spending time in God’s presence may not be what relationship with Jesus is all about. I used to feel like he doesn’t love me anymore because of my past mistakes. But recently I’m learning to trust his love for me. I’m handing my weaknesses over to him so he can help me with his strength. Thanks to your series Embracing His Glory, I’m learning to see how powerless I am towards sin and how deeply I need his hand to transform me to the person he desires.

I’m not proud of my decline in my relationship with him. In the past few weeks, my quiet time has been of less interest to me.  Sometimes I get back on my feet and so enjoy it. Other times, I just fall asleep from beginning to end. I feel God’s sadness, trust me, and I’m so angry at myself for making him feel that way.

When I was 16, I would always carry my Bible and buy new notes and write down whatever God was teaching me. I always looked forward to my quiet time and would read the Bible every day. Unfortunately, my parents became so legalistic you would wonder if they were modern Pharisees. They loved God, but they feared him more. Initially I wasn’t affected by this new turn they had taken, but it later did. They brought in rules that began to kill my relationship with him. Rather than something I enjoyed, my quiet time became something I had to do to earn God’s blessings or  to be safe.

That lifestyle haunts me now. So when I sit for my quiet time to read the Scriptures, it’s a rule for me, not something I love and enjoy anymore. I told God I just want him back in my life. Why do I find it difficult to enjoy my time with God? Why do I find it difficult to spend time with the Bible and just pause to listen to him at his feet?

My response:

A lot of things could contribute to this. Keep this in mind, though—God invites us to walk with him out of endearment, not obligation. It sounds like your devotional times became an obligation, and that will always kill them. God wants to walk with you through life, not become an obligation to be satisfied three times a day.

As I read this, it sounded like you ended up with a relationship with your Bible and your quiet time, and those aren’t as exciting now. Perhaps, God has let those dry up so that you could lean into a relationship with him that is close and endearing. Don’t think something is wrong because those times have grown tedious. It doesn’t mean God is boring; it just means you’ve outgrown the form you’d been using. It’s just like going to grade school. It was challenging when you were there, but you would be bored if you went back today. That doesn’t make it wrong, just that you’ve grown beyond it.

I suspect God is stirring something new in you, He’s inviting you into a different journey, and you’re still trying to resurrect the old journey, or at least feel bad that it doesn’t happen the same way. Loving God isn’t complicated. Inviting Jesus to walk with us isn’t fulfilled by doing something three times daily. The Bible is a magnificent resource for discovering who God is and how his purpose unfolds in the Creation. But Jesus left us his Spirit to guide us into all truth, not a book. I think all of this is shifting in you, which may be disorienting for a season. This could be God’s doing to set you free to enjoy him, rather than his life in you being a chore.

Relax. Enjoy what you see of him each day. Read the Scriptures as he draws you to them. Speak to him all the time about your joys, worries, concerns, and need for insight. Watch as his truth surface in you, even at times you’d least expect it.

He responded to my email a few days later:

Oh my God! This cleared the doubt I had left in my heart. Wow!

The day I sent that email to you, I spoke with a friend and she was going through the same struggle that I was. So, I shared your response with her and she felt God had just confirmed what we are learning in the last few days through your words.

It was only a few days ago that I sat to read the Bible very early in morning and I whispered these words in my heart to God: “Father, I’m tired of everything. I know the Bible so well, but I don’t know you as I desire to. I’m so far from who you are. Please help me to behold you as you really are.” As soon as I had whispered that to him, something happened. It’s as if everything in the Bible was pointing to Jesus. I sat to read John, not hoping for anything at all: I just wanted to behold Jesus, though I didn’t know how.

Honestly, I remember hearing you on your podcast correcting someone who referred to the Bible as the ‘Word of God.’ You gently told him, “Scripture holds God’s words, but only Jesus is the Word of God.” I disagreed with you. How could Scripture not be the Word of God? Now, some years later, here I am, crossing my legs with a sigh: “Wayne is correct.”

Even my walk with Jesus didn’t begin that way and yet it only took a few years before I found myself depending on the Bible for almost everything. It was my guide. If I didn’t read it for three days, I would feel so bad. I would feel that I hadn’t touched God’s word for a while. I know it’s healthy to read the Scriptures as God unveils himself, but that wasn’t the case then.

Since my friend and I are on a similar journey, this is about the two of us. She and I are starting to follow Jesus anew, this time as the Word of God, the One God is speaking to us. More important, we are so grateful to find that Father confirms the truth of himself that he is unveiling to us. We are glad to know we aren’t going crazy.

When God seems boring, I’m sure it isn’t him at all. He’s incredibly endearing, hilarious, insightful, and gracious. Every day with him is an adventure, and when he seems boring to me, it usually means I’ve lost sight of him and am just mindlessly going through the motions of superficial, religious activities. It’s one thing to read He Loves Me and be touched by it, and quite another to spend the day with Sara and me and discover who I am. God wants us to know him; the Bible is a poor substitute for that knowing.

If you, too, are hungry for him, keep looking for him. Scripture won’t be enough. Church attendance won’t be enough. Even fellowship with good friends won’t be enough. He wants you to know him, see him, and feel him surge in your heart as you negotiate your day.

As someone told me a couple of weeks ago, “It’s not your piety he loves; it’s you!”

And if you want help sorting out how the Scriptures fit more effectively into a relational journey, you can check out the free video series, The Jesus Lens.

The Unintended Consequences of Well-Meaning Prayers

(First, a personal note:  It finally caught up to me. I’m blaming my visit to Disneyland last week to celebrate a granddaughter’s graduation from middle school though I don’t know for sure if that’s where I got it. But early Monday morning, I came down with symptoms of COVID-19, and a test later that day confirmed it. I’m doing OK for the most part, except for an extremely painful sore throat and being forced into quarantine away from those I love.)

If you’ve been listening to the podcasts at The God Journey, you’ll know that the last three months have been quite a ride—from the brink of despair to the heights of great joy. If you’re missing that story, you can hear the first two of seven podcasts under the label: “Redeeming Love.” It’s the story of the enemy’s attempts to destroy our marriage to God’s victory over a trauma we didn’t even realize Sara had in her past. The first one aired on July 8, titled, The Unforeseen Circumstances, and the second is called What Sara Faced. The rest will follow on subsequent Fridays.

At the lowest point in this story, a close friend of mine saw how much pain I was in and held it with me. That night in a dream, he saw Jesus sitting on a park bench, so he went and sat with him. He then asked Jesus if there was anything he could do to take my pain away.

Jesus turned toward him and answered, “I can’t take his pain away without taking away his love for Sara.”

He shared that with me the next day, and I immediately knew it was a prayer I didn’t want Jesus to answer. If I were in excruciating pain because of my love, I would rather endure the pain than lose the love. And it made me think of other prayers I have prayed, not realizing the result I wanted may be at the expense of some greater good I wanted even more.

We want pain to go away; Jesus wants love to triumph. We rarely recognize the cost involved in the things we ask of him. While we seek comfort, he’s drawing us into the truth that will be our ultimate joy. That’s why if you only seek comfort in this broken world, don’t expect that it will lead you to God’s fullness. Some of his greatest gifts reveal themselves in our moments of pain and vulnerability.

Fortunately,  Jesus didn’t take my pain away and instead used it to re-shape my heart with what I needed to walk a different road he was asking of me. You can hear that in the podcasts as well. All of that has led Sara and me to far more spacious places of freedom and love than I could ever have imagined.

Paul was right, “momentary, light affliction” can work in us “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). No, it didn’t feel light or momentary at the time, but given what it has produced and who it helped rescue from the darkness overwhelming her heart, it seems so now. Who would have thought that those days of agony would bring such incredible healing and redemption?

I will never view prayer quite the same way again.

On an unrelated note, the next gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club will be held Sunday, July 24 at 1:00 pm PDT. You’ll have to work that out in your time zone. We will cover Chapter 4 on why accountability is a horrible tool for discipleship and transformation. You can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it.

 

 

Love Seasoned over a Lifetime

A good friend of mine, Jack Gray, passed away last week. That’s him with his wife Margaret alongside Sara and me when we first met them in 2004. Many have heard me talk about Jack over the years. He was born in Scotland, served as a missionary surgeon in the Congo at the time of the revolution, and then lived out much of the rest of his life in New Zealand. I had numerous opportunities to correspond with him as well as visit him twice.

Though I came to know Jack late in his life, his life, character, and passion deeply inspired the trajectory of my own journey. He was a man of profound wisdom, gracious generosity, and a joyful spirit that touched many worldwide. I miss knowing he is in the world, but grateful that he has reached the gateway for the most incredible adventure any of us could take—an eternity in the presence of the Jesus he loved and a reuniting with his beloved wife. He was a remarkable gift, and it is all the better for having had him among us.

Advancing age tests the mettle of a person. Some grow more loving and tender, while others become more fearful and angry. When Dave Coleman was a hospice chaplain, he told me it was his experience that 80% of Christians were afraid or anxious about facing death. I have had three close friends and “older brothers” pass away in the last eighteen months. In their 80s and 90s, they were all men whom Father’s love had sweetened over many, many decades. It’s impressive to see what living at rest in the love of Jesus does to someone’s character over time and how it is reflected with such tenderness and confidence at the end of their days.

Jack turned ninety-nine this past February. He recorded this video a couple of weeks before he died last week. It reveals those things most in his heart as the veil between this life and the next grew thinner.

JackGray.mov

(If the video doesn’t play, click on this link: https://vimeo.com/727491540)

After his days in Africa, Jack began to find his rest in the Father’s love. He was expelled from the country during the revolution and told me he was home in Scotland in deep depression because he had failed God. “How had you failed God?” I asked, incredulous at the thought. He said because God sent him there, his faith was not strong enough to stop the revolution that got him expelled. In time, he came to see how that thinking was wrong in so many ways and thus began his encounter with a Father’s love that transformed him over a lifetime.

Jack was one of the heroes of the faith, and his life touched many people as a surgeon, hospital administrator, friend, and passionate follower of Jesus.

I have another video I’d like to share. It came to me on the same day that Jack’s did. This is from Ukraine and it’s by a man whose family I met and whose fellowship I enjoyed when I was in Kenya in 2019. Here’s that video, which shows how they are coping with this conflict by serving others. I hope these days of war and torment will spark a similar journey in them to discover a Father bigger than their expectations and a love more significant than their unanswered questions. I pray they, too, will be able to grasp how wide and deep the Father’s love is for them even in such horrific days.

God can hold us in any storm and help us endure the most excruciating trial until his glory comes—whether in this life or as we pass on to the next.

_______________

If you want to listen to two podcasts that I recorded with Jack Gray, you can do so from our archives at The God Journey.

If you want to help Misha and his team in Ukraine, you can pray for them and help by raising funds as they coordinate relief efforts for travel, housing, food, and basic necessities. You can help them at the Reliant fund:  https://reliant.org/ukraine.relief.fund

 

 

Where Love Thrives

Love can only thrive where truth reigns.

Thirty-five years ago, Sara and I had some friends over for dinner. At the end of the evening, as we walked with them to their car, the husband pulled me aside to tell me something. “Do you know that you talked about yourself all night and what you’re excited about but never once asked about what I’m doing?”

I was embarrassed beyond words, but fortunately, I didn’t retreat to my defenses. I thought through the night and realized to my horror that he was right. I told him he was right and how sorry I was to be so focused on myself.

As painful as it was to hear, his comments were a wonderful gift to me and changed my awareness of others in every conversation I’ve had since. He didn’t have to tell me that, and he took a great risk in doing so. He could have just let the relationship whither in my selfishness, but he loved me enough to tell me the truth and let me see his disappointment. It not only gave me the opportunity to change but deepened our relationship.

Many Christians I’ve met over the years fall into the mistaken notion that in relationships “nice is better than honest” and are afraid to be genuine for fear of whatever backlash may result. There’s often good reason for that in a conformity-based culture where those in authority respond in abusive and hurtful ways toward anyone who dares to disagree with them. Perhaps that’s why so many people are always saying what they think the other person wants to hear instead of being honest.

Without genuineness and vulnerability, however, relationships stay superficial and become fraught with tension. You’ll find yourself avoiding people you haven’t been honest with, perhaps even blaming them for your fear of what truth might uncover. And it’s true that not everyone is worthy of your honesty or deserves access to your heart especially if they crush it with their own selfishness.

But the real power of relationships and the environment that nurtures them comes where people are vulnerable and genuine. Brokenness and fear grow in the darkness, healing and joy do so in the light. That’s why Paul wrote, “… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Growth only happens where what’s true can be expressed in gracious and tender affection.  I know that’s almost a lost art in the 21st Century, but it’s worth recovering. Affection will die when people care more about ‘getting along’ than they do engaging in honest conversations.

So, it behooves us all to learn to be genuine in our engagements with people, and for us to learn how to be a soft place for the vulnerability of others. Sure, it’s a risk, every time, but without it, you’ll never discover the depth, beauty, and power that arises from being heart-felt relationships. You can start in small ways with people you trust to hold your honesty well, even if they may not see eye-to-eye with you. That way you can discover who is safe for such conversations, and I suspect there are far more of those than your fears want you to believe.

IN OTHER NEWS…

The Jake Colsen Book Club

The next meeting of the Jake Colsen Book Club to explore the content of So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore will meet this Saturday, July 2, at 1:00 pm PDT.  The third chapter deals with Christian education and how it indoctrinates us into behavioral conformity as the process for discipleship when it is precisely the opposite of that. Growing in the life of Jesus is a transformational reality inside his affection, which explains why our attempts at self-effort conformity always fall short.

We stream these live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion. If you want to be in the conversation, please email me one week before each session, and I’ll send you the link you need to join us. There will always be reminders on my blog a few days before our scheduled time. You can subscribe to the blog at the top right of my blog pages.

The links change with every session and you have to get the current link by emailing me before the Zoom session begins.  You’re welcome to join us for all the sessions or only for the chapters that most interest you. You’ll need to sign up each time to have a spot in the Zoom room.

 

Kenya

Some of the children and their new dormitories at Forkland School

Three months ago 300 children were suddenly abandoned at the Forkland School we have supported for many years. It is an impoverished community with lots of drug and alcohol abuse. We helped them when a flood ruined their cistern by digging them a new well. Gratefully, it hit a huge water source that enabled them to supply the community with free water as well as bottle it for resale to support the school.

A few months back, we helped them buy the land next door, which the state required them to do to keep caring for the number of students they had. Then a couple of months ago these children were abandoned on their doorstep. We helped feed them for a few months before they were required to build dormitories. Due to the generosity of one man, we built dormitories and a dining hall for their use.

However, expenses for the care, feeding, and education of those children total about $6500 per month.  We did not want to get caught in an ongoing expense here, so we appealed to them to look for a more effective solution. They presented us with a proposal to add $75,000 to the grain enterprise we set up with those we work with in the area as a way to generate that revenue every month going forward. We could use some help to offset that cost to help these orphaned children have a hope and future.

As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer feesPlease see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to @LifestreamMinistries (or use the QR Code at left). Finally, we also still take checks mailed to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

 

Let Me Read to You

People are constantly asking me if any of my books are available in audio format. Many of them are and, except for The Shack, I’m the one doing the reading. So, if you want me to read one of my books to you, you can order from the links below:

 

 

The Revelational Adventure

Every day I wake up to the amazing adventure of walking with God through whatever might unfold in my day. Sometimes that is full of joy and wonder; at other times, it’s an unforeseen calamity that challenges me to the core of my being. Following him, as best I see him each day, is the only way I know to navigate life. Keeping an eye out for his fingerprints in what’s happening around me, recognizing his impulse in my heart, or discovering a new thought playing with my mind, opens doors into options I’d never considered before and sets my heart at rest in events I don’t control.

So, it pains me when people talk of following God as a painful chore to keep from getting into trouble with him. That’s not how Christ lived, nor does it fit the character of the Father he described to us. He wants his joy to be in us so our joy can be full. Our God lives to his pleasure, and he wants to show us how we can live in the fullness of ours when it is untwisted from the lies of darkness. This is a journey into the life that really is life, unraveling the chaos and brokenness of this fallen world and giving us access to a life of love, rest, and play inside a growing friendship with the God who created you. It is the best way to live even through life’s worst moments.

I no longer have to sort out “the big picture” or try to “wrap my head around some strategy.” I can simply seek and follow, one step at a time, and find myself coming out in more spacious places of his grace and wisdom. That’s the revelational adventure—learning to recognize what new insight he’s giving me and believing his ways are valid.

Over the past few weeks, Kyle and I have been talking about this process on The God Journey podcast. We don’t explore this subject every week, but we are painting a picture of what it means to follow him. Even when he asks us to “lay down our lives,” it is for our joy as much as his. Selfishness is a barrier to living free, but only he can show us how our sacrifice can fit into his purpose of bringing light into the world.

Following the slightest nudge he gives us carries us into the life of his Spirit blowing all around us. Without that, we are pulled by the gravity of chaos into the weeds of frustration, hopelessness, and misery. When you feel the darkness spreading its clutches over you, remember that God has a way for you to rise out of it and catch the wind, just like a kite soaring skyward. This is the transformation that living loved offers us. Don’t miss it.

If you want a further explanation of how we can live more attuned to him, here are the first four podcasts we’ve done as part of this series.

  • Transformation #1:  Windblown – Recognizing how the chaos of this age is constantly trying to drag us into the darkness while his Spirit keeps inviting us to live above the chaos going on around us with the lightness of his joy and power.
  • Transformation #2: Reveal – This journey does not begin with doing what we think is best for God but in his revelation to our hearts of his love, wisdom, and strength. “What is God showing me today of himself?” “What wisdom is he putting in my way to guide me today?” or “Who is he giving me to love today?” become the most critical questions to pose to him each day as we sensitize our hearts to how he might answer them.
  • Transformation #3: Ponder – When we think God reveals something to us, how can we know it’s him? Pondering the growing revelations with him, Scripture, other brothers and sisters, and seeing how they sort out in our circumstances, is an important part of the process of internal transformation. Pondering anchors his revelation in our hearts and minds, helps us discern what’s real and not real, and lets us see the possibilities he holds in his heart.
  • Transformation #4: Believe – As we affirm what God is revealing to us, he is winning us into his trust. Believing what he shows us and becoming convinced of his character toward us is what lifts us into the reality of his life that he wants for us. Believing is not another religious work he demands of us; it’s the fruit of recognizing him in our lives and growing to know that his ways are always best for us.

We are drawing a chart as we unpack this journey and you can see it below. Father, Son, and Spirit are in the upper left, and we are at the lower left as we’ve been twisted by the brokenness of this age. We have no hope of untwisting ourselves enough to soar in his Spirit, so God initiates that process with us by revealing himself to us in bits and pieces as we look to him throughout our days. Belief takes root in our hearts as we recognize what he is showing us and ponder it. That’s what allows us to catch the wind of the Spirit as he draws us into his reality and the promises of glory, purpose, truth, fruitfulness, fulfillment, etc.

Without that, the gravity of our brokenness will continue to hold us in the weeds, where darkness, futility, fear, anger, frustration, and scarcity define our lives. God wants to lift us out of the weeds and draws us into the unfolding revelation of his Spirit. That comes from hearing and believing what he shows us is true. It can really be that simple.

There’s so much more we will add here in the weeks ahead on the podcast. I know charts can make things appear to be too mechanical for something genuinely organic. So, please don’t get lost in the diagram or try to implement it with human effort. Let it help you imagine what’s going on in your heart and mind as God makes himself known and then invites us on an adventure with him that will allow you to live in the flow of the Spirit instead of being shipwrecked by our demands and struggles. God knows what’s best for us in every situation and wants to help us recognize what he’s revealing in our hearts, and then we’ll be free to believe him enough to watch his glory unfold in us. Learning to live in this freedom is a lifetime process that starts slowly as it finds traction in how we think. Then, look out.

 

We will continue to explore other facets of this revelational adventure in the weeks ahead. Since you’ve heard it over the years, I know some of you don’t regularly check in with the God Journey much anymore. But you might want to check back in for these episodes. I’m excited to see how this framework has encouraged others to a more relational approach to their faith. It also expresses well how I am learning to follow him. I hope it helps you too. This approach is also finding its way into the sequel I’m writing to So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore.

 

Some Book News

The Jake Colsen Book Club

First, the second installment of the Jake Colsen Book Club, to explore the content of So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore, will meet this weekend on Saturday, June 18, at 4:00 pm PDT. I loved the conversation around the first chapter, which you can see here if you missed it.

The second chapter deals with frustration, disillusionment, and emptiness and how God can use those feelings to draw us onto a different path that will produce the fruit we hunger for in our walk with him.  We stream these live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion. If you want to be in the conversation, please email me one week before each session, and I’ll send you a link to join us. There will always be reminders on my blog a few days before our scheduled time. You can subscribe to the blog at the top right of my blog pages.

Chapter two shows just how much we try to hide from the frustrations that God uses to invite us down more fruitful paths. Sometimes, we are afraid to question the things about life in God because we’ve found security in our illusions. Being dis-illusioned is often the first step to seeing God as he is and ourselves as we truly are in his presence.

The Jake Colsen Book Club uses a different link for each session, and you’re welcome to join us for all the sessions or only for the chapters that most interest you. You’ll need to sign up each time to have a spot in the Zoom room.  

 

Deep Trace

A year ago, I introduced you to Tessa van Wade’s first book, Out of the Shadows. What a great summer read!  If you haven’t read it yet, now might be a good time because in a few months, the second book in the series, Deep Trace, will release.

Sara and I got to read that story last summer as it was being finalized. I can’t tell you how much Deep Trace not only touched my heart but also mirrored my own story at the time. Remy continues her battle against the lies, even by members of her own family, to discredit and marginalize her. The powerful forces that seek to kill her only challenge her to dig deeper to find out who she really is against the differing voices that want to control her. It’s a page-turning story that wrestles with such big-ticket items as personal identity and purpose, culture and conflict, taking thoughts captive and embracing what’s true even if it’s uncomfortable.

Why am I telling you now?  So that, if you haven’t read the first one, you will get started so you’re ready for book 2 in the Valieri series when it arrives.  Those who have already read book one have been waiting for some time for the story to continue. Here’s what I wrote in my endorsement for Tessa’s book:  “Intimate as well as epic. Tessa Van Wade has crafted a compelling adventure of a young woman’s search for her soul while on the run from those who must destroy her to save themselves. Only the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Entertaining and eye-opening.”

I’ll let you know when the next book comes out and share with you some of the endorsements we’ve already received.  For now, you will do well to read the first book, and perhaps connect with its author, Tessa Van Wade on her blog, Instagram feed, or on her new podcast with husband Ben, The Tessa Van Wade Show.  I’ve known Tessa for almost 40 years and appreciate the journey she is on, what she encourages in others, and her gifts as a budding young author. I hope you’ll give her a chance.

Life at Father’s Pace

Three years ago, in the woods of western Virginia, I heard a man say, “Life moves at the speed of relationships.”  I immediately resonated with that. My life has traveled mainly at the speed of achievement. Get that book done, that podcast produced, or that trip scheduled. Of course, I made time for relationships around that, but I moved at a breakneck speed throughout most of my life. Though I’ve been comfortable with it, I know not everyone around me has.

A few weeks ago,  as I happened to be pulling some weeds in Sara’s garden, I hurriedly reached for a weed that was just a tad out of reach. I didn’t realize that, however, until I lost my balance in the reach and had to move my foot to keep from falling. When I did, I stepped on one of her flowers and crushed it. Internally, I felt like I had crushed something in Sara’s heart. No, I didn’t mean to, and indeed, Sara wouldn’t have compared that flower to her heart, but that’s what I felt when I looked down at the dying iris.

“You need to slow down.” The words crossed my mind instantly. The message was clear to me. My rapid pace is crushing something in Sara. Since then, “Life moves at the speed of Sara” has become part of my vocabulary. And it applies to everything I do, from driving to preparing dinner to my conversations with her and others. At first, it felt painful. I even do it when Sara isn’t with me because I want to practice for when she is.

And you know what I’ve discovered? I actually like living at a slower pace. I trip on stairs less often, make fewer mistakes, and am more attuned to what’s happening around me or someone else might be feeling near me. Dare I say it? It’s made me more sensitive to God’s ebb and flow in my life. Who would have thought?\

Last week on the podcast, Kyle and I discussed how we can run so fast through life that we don’t allow Jesus to catch up with us. I’ve long thought people who keep busy all the time are running from something inside, afraid some pain or loneliness might catch up with them. I know I did some of that in my younger days.

Then last week, as I prayed with some people, this subject came up again. Someone expressed it this way, “Maybe we could live at the speed of Father.”

Ding! Ding! Ding!  

Jesus did. He only did the things he saw the Father doing or said the things he heard the Father saying. (John 5:19)

That thought has wandered to many places in my thinking. I’ve had so many people tell me they don’t ever hear or see God, and I’ve been through seasons of that myself. But could that be because we tend to move ahead of him, racing through life? We beg him to do what we want instead of slowing our pace to recognize what he’s already doing? To see someone, you must be behind them, moving at their pace. Maybe the next time someone tells me they can’t see God, I might remind them that they might slow down and let him get ahead of them. You can’t follow from the front. Maybe that’s what it means to wait on God; it’s allowing him to catch up to us and move in front so we can see him and embrace his work.

I’m going to be exploring this for some time. Is that why we’re told to wait upon the Lord? It’s not an exercise in patience but a reality. Our human tendency is to race about in fear and anxiety, which puts us way ahead of God’s pace. That’s why he seems so slow to us or so hidden. He’s not on that frequency. His work is much more deliberate, incubated in love, not fear, in trust, not anxiety. He’s also doing real work inside while we try to plater cosmetic fixes on the outside.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this will change me.

Remember the poem I ran on this blog a couple of weeks ago, Allowing My Past Catch up to Me? Maybe it’s not just the traumas of our pasts that we’re outrunning; perhaps it’s also the love of God, or maybe the treasure of his wisdom. If we don’t slow down to the Father’s pace, we will keep missing the incredible roads he wants to invite us down. Is that why he speaks in a whisper and sows his fingerprints so subtly into our days. Slowing down enough to recognize him is part of learning to navigate our lives at his pace instead of the frantic anxiety of our flesh.

That’s why we’re told to be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10, or to find those “unforced rhythms of grace.” (Luke 11, The Message) Slow down; take a deep breath now and then and learn to quiet the pace of your mind and heart. Then, it won’t be so difficult to know what he is doing in you.

That’s where I’m growing right now, and I already love its fruit growing in my heart.

____________________

The Jake Colsen Book Club

We began our Jake Colsen Book Club last weekend to explore the content of So You Don’t Want to Go To Church AnymoreYou can see the recording of that conversation here. We’ll be covering chapter 2 on Saturday, June 18, at 4 pm PDT. We will bounce them around so that people in different parts of the world can join us. The first one was weighted toward Europe and Africa; the second toward Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion. If you want to be in the conversation, please email me one week before each session, and I’ll send you a link to join us. There will always be reminders on my a few days before our scheduled time. You can subscribe to the blog at the top right of my blog pages. The Jake Colsen Book Club will use a different link each time, and you’re welcome to join us for all the sessions or only for the chapters that most interest you.

The Jake Colsen Book Club

This book has helped thousands of people gain a different perspective about our human effort to replicate Jesus’ church and discovered that some of the rumblings in their heart weren’t as crazy as they might have first thought.  It has also gotten people thrown out of Bible college for reading it, been the source of much pain for pastors who didn’t appreciate its message, and has been the subject of countless emails. Here’s one I got the other day:
Hey, I just realized how wordy this email has become, but thanks for your gracious endurance if you’ve continued to read this far, lol . . . . I love your idea of a “book club” regarding your latest installment to Jake’s Story unfolding . . . I’d definitely be interested in joining in that discovery if it ever presents itself.  Yours and Dave’s online chapters is what brought a lot of language to what the Father was unfolding in my life back then years ago. I think I still have the chapters printed out in a 3-ring binder somewhere with all my scribbles in the margins, That time period brings such a smile to my heart and face just thinking back on it now . . . even though it was extremely tumultuous in our relationships here as well.
And a few days later, I got this text:

I’ve been reading So You Dont Want to Go to Church Anymore, I came across the “what do we do with the kids” part. And John asked if the kids knew how to use a fork. That part! I can’t even begin to tell you how much it did my heart good. I literally wept tears of relief. I find myself holding such ridiculously high standards for myself. Even though I know I’ll never attain them. So thank you! Thank you for sharing/collaborating with this book!

As many of you know, I’ve begun writing the sequel to this book, tentatively titled, So You Really Want to Follow Jesus. As I’ve been re-reading the first book, which I hadn’t done in 17 years, I got excited about that content and thought how fun it would be to take it by chapter and go through it with some people. When I suggested it on my podcast, many of you responded with the desire to join us.

So, I guess it’s time to start the Jake Colsen Book Club. We’re going to work through So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore chapter by chapter in a series of Zoom sessions where you can share your insights or ask questions.

Now, setting a time for this is almost impossible with readers in Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand who said they’d like to join in as well.  So, we’re going to bounce the time and dates around to make it easier for people in different time zones to join us. We are going to record the video, so if you can’t join us, you can watch it later and add your comments.  I’ve set the first two so people can plan accordingly and make adjustments as we move forward.

  • Chapter 1 – Sunday, June 5 at 10:30-11:30 am Pacific Daylight Time. (Please sort out what that means in your own time zone.)
  • Chapter 2 – Saturday, June 18 at 4:00-5:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time.

If you’d like to join me in the Zoom room for the discussion email me at waynej@lifestream.org and I will send you the link to join us.  For those who just want to watch, I’ll be streaming it from my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.  I’ll also post the link on my blog that morning for those who want to join in at the last minute.

Having done these a few hundred times, here are some guidelines that will help our conversation work best for everyone:

  1. If possible, use earphones or even a headset with microphone. It keeps background noise to a minimum. Also, mute yourself when not talking.
  2. Make sure you’re in a quiet setting with printers, vacuum cleaners, etc. turned off. Make sure dogs and kids are cared for away from where you are.
  3. Share the space. Feel free to jump in and share your thought or question, but then give others a chance too.  We don’t want 2 or 3 people to dominate the whole time.
  4. Please don’t try to “fix” people by giving advice. Advice is best served inside a relationship and when it is solicited.  It is often better to ask questions or make observations rather than to tell someone what they should do.
  5. We expect this time to have some awkward moments, so don’t panic in the silences. The best questions/comments often come out of an awkward pause.
  6. When you talk the first time, please tell us who you are and where you’re from, so people have context. And, it’s ok to make up a name and a location.
  7. We’re keeping this to one hour, so please don’t wait until the last minute or you may miss your chance.
  8. We consider this a public platform, so by participating you agree to have this stream online, and the recording released thereafter.

Let me know if you want to join me in the Zoom Room.

The Tide Has Turned

I’ve not talked about this a lot on my blog, but I have on recent episodes of The God Journey.  Six weeks ago, when I arrived home from my trip to the Carolinas, I stumbled into a tragic situation that completely took me by surprise. It was catastrophic and I told listeners of the podcast that I would be taking some time away from my regular responsibilities to give God the maximum space to sort this out. That needed to happen in me as well as others involved in the circumstance. I’m not relating the specifics of what I faced because the story affects other people, and it is their story to tell, not mine.

During this time, I took great encouragement from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

I have never been in such pain or despair. I wept countless tears in agony and sorry. It would not be an understatement to say I despaired of life itself. I took great comfort in remembering that Jesus “during his time on earth offers himself to God with loud cries and tears offered himself to God.” (Hebrews 5:7) I understood completely.

I was powerless in the face of lies the enemy had sowed among some people I care about, and had those circumstances stood, they would have threatened everything about my future. I could only pour out my heart to God for weeks, hoping that he had a resolution I couldn’t see. Early on, I called some close friends to have them stand and watch with me to see what Father might be saying or doing. Though I got great counsel, insight, and encouragement, the circumstances continued to worsen. At times God would breathe hope in my heart, “This is not what it appears to be,” but I could only seem to grasp that hope for brief moments. I was afraid to believe those thoughts were his when I could have so easily interpreted my hopes as God’s voice.

A couple of weeks ago, the tide began to turn, and in recent days all has changed dramatically for the good. Light has appeared in the darkness. Lies have given way to truth, and love has been renewed in a most gracious way. What was painful before is playful now. In the last six days, I have moved from circumstances that had been excruciatingly painful through the first five weeks to excruciatingly beautiful over the weekend. Now, the excruciating is gone entirely, and I am at rest in the beauty and his salvation.

I know this whole ordeal lasted only six weeks, but these days have been hard, painful, and seemed far longer. It came on so suddenly and the shock and pain were so great that every day seemed like a week.  I am so glad to say now that I have survived the most challenging stretch of my journey to date. Everything I have experienced in him over the last thirty years was critical to have in my heart during these days. I am so grateful for what he has taught me about entrusting myself to his love instead of trying to fix it with my own wisdom and power.

He has done exceedingly abundantly above what I could have imagined even a couple of weeks ago. I have appreciated the space many of you have given me by not making demands on my time so that I could give my full attention to what lay before me. During this time Jesus proved to be all the refuge I needed when I was living beyond my limits and overwhelmed with pain. As I look back now, I see more clearly how he was there, even when my agony obscured my vision. In the first days, God spoke to my heart and said this circumstance will decisively change the trajectory of my life, but it will lead to more beautiful spaces.  I had no idea what he meant by that, but when I believed it my heart was at rest even in the horror of that situation. However, when my heart strayed from it, the loss would overwhelm me again.

I’m not sure what all of that means yet but I know I’ve been changed by this, and I’m sure in more ways than I yet see. These events and his grace in them will reshape the trajectory of my heart and my mission until the end of my days, and how I love hurting people even when I’m bearing the brunt of it.  Today, my heart is full of joy and gratefulness with a song in my heart and a settledness in my spirit that God’s pleasure is unfolding.  There is still much to be done for his healing to be complete, but the outcome now seems inevitable, and I can fully give myself to the process.

I am as delighted today as I was in despair a couple of weeks ago. I hope someday I’ll be able to share some of the details of all of this if it becomes appropriate. In the end, I can say, I have experienced the most striking demonstration of his love I’ve ever seen for all of us involved. I’ve learned so much about the way he works and how love can have its way even against the wicked schemes of darkness.

I will always be immeasurably grateful for those who prayed for me and sent Scriptures and words of encouragement, even though you had no idea what I was dealing with. So many people stood with me, hoped with me, wept with me, and now share my joy at the fruit of his work. I will be turning back to those things Father has asked me to put into the world in the days ahead.  We are back doing podcasts already. Soon I’ll continue writing on the sequel to So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. I’ll also be rescheduling the trips I had to cancel and see where else Father might want me to go to encourage the hearts of others in the next season. Those conversations will be incredibly different now.

Thank you for your kindness and patience to me during this time.

Allowing My Past to Catch up to Me

On last week’s podcast and today’s at The God Journey, Kyle and I talk about dealing with the long-term effects of unresolved childhood trauma. On my recent trip to North Carolina, a good friend of mine, Dana Andrechyn, shared with me a poem she wrote that captures so well what it is like to run from the pain of the past and then finally find just the right time and space for Jesus to bring healing to your broken heart.

I love this poem. We talk about it more on today’s podcast. I also wanted to print it here for those that wanted a copy.

Allowing My Past to Catch Up to Me

To be out on the open water at sunset
facing backward, shore fading
like the past that I left behind,
we set our present course
into the beauty of the end of the day…
Our speed is slow and gentle enough
to allow my past to catch up to me
its drama unfolding as if it were yesterday—
and instead of looking away, I fixed my gaze there.
(for so long I have just wanted to leave it buried.
but the grave can’t hold living things.)
Set in the midst of the beauty of the setting sun,
and its safe embrace, a softness rises in me
laced with tears, washing my face, my soul
as I remembered the girl I left behind so long ago.
Left her standing there, hands full
of hunger, ache, resentment, shame, loneliness—
hidden from all eyes, especially mine.
To forget her would heal me, I thought,
but the neglect of my own little soul was
just another arrow of abandonment,
piercing my present and my hunger.
But here, now, in this beauty I scoop her up
onto the seat next to me—wrapping my arms around her,
giving her the gift of her voice—her pain, her anger, her tears.
Feeling her youth and the shattering of her innocence.
Remembering how we had to survive by fortressing,
with grit and hardness—armoring up.
We were never thrown a life-line
as we tried to keep our head above water
as best we could.
Today, I pulled her out of those waters
into the lap of my soul and I mothered her.
Saw her. Held her. Held me.
Disarmed.

Dana Andrechyn, July 2020

© Copyright 2022 by Dana Andrechyn.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Control Is an Illusion

You never know how even the most casual comment can profoundly impact the trajectory of someone’s journey.

In the early 2000s, I visited a fellowship in Nottingham, England, on a couple of occasions within a few years. I remember those visits with a smile and enjoyed the pastor and his family where Sara and I stayed. I hadn’t heard from them since until this email showed up in my inbox last week. I’m sure I must have taught some wonderful things when I was there, but what God seemed to find most valuable was a simple comment I made in passing.  I’ll let Gary tell you about it:

Your visits to us all those years ago fundamentally altered the spiritual direction of travel for our family and for the church. My family remembers you fondly. Being a Vineyard church, our relationship with God was ministry-led.

However, your presence shifted us towards an authentic personal journey with God-experienced in community. I remember profoundly you looking at my well-organized calendar and saying, “You do know that control is an illusion, don’t you?”

In light of that, I wanted to let you know that I have written a book summarising my spiritual journey. It’s where I arrived after all those years. The title is Control, the Illusion, and the Lie: The illusion is that you can have control and the lie is that you need it.

It’s a personal spiritual growth book for people to join me on the journey, arising from a fresh view of the beatitudes. My writing may not be the best, but I am a message carrier which I believe I have achieved in the book.

I have used some of the material with a friend who does research for an international computer company. At the time, he was undergoing some top-flight psychotherapy that these companies provide for their executives. On sharing some of the material with his psychotherapist, the therapist said, “this is great. Can I use it?”

God works in mysterious ways.

That he does.

I love his story, and if you’ve read much of my stuff, you know how passionate I am that the love of the Father displaces our need to feel in control of our circumstances. There is no more frustrated person than the one trying to white-knuckle their way through difficult times rather than letting God guide them through them. Thinking we can control what happens to us is an illusion, and learning to live in his unfolding reality is much better than trying to get him to do what we want. Recognizing our powerlessness is a doorway into living lightly and freely in the world, and seeing God’s glory unfold.

His book is a wonderfully simple read with a profound message that will change the way you live in the world and leave you ever-more free to embrace him and his glory as it unfolds in you. This is one powerful thought I got from Gary’s book:

In circumstances when we feel powerless, we don’t have to give in or give up; we give way to what the Father has in mind. 

Order it in the US from Amazon.    —    Order it from Amazon.uk

When Serving Turns to Exploitation

I’m going to lift a quote from an email I wrote to my webmaster the other day about some changes being made for one of the platforms we use to get out information.

“It seems all these platforms start to serve a need people have, then end up exploiting people to fill a need they have.”

As soon as I typed it, I realized how ubiquitous that is to almost everything human, from business to bureaucracy, websites, and even religious institutions.

Almost all start to address a critical need. Facebook, at its beginning, provided a unique tool to keep family, friends, former classmates, and colleagues updated on each other’s personal lives. It was great to see pictures of grandkids, college roommates, and vistas from all over the world. Then, they monetized it, and instead of serving me the things I want to see and read, they twisted it with all kinds of algorithms, advertising, and hoops to jump through that don’t serve me well; they serve Facebook.

I’ve noticed that with websites as well. I’ll be reading something I’m interested in, and almost immediately, a pop-up window will obscure my reading and beg me to sign up for their newsletter or offer me a free “gift” if I give them my email address. We’ve been blessed not to do that at Lifestream or The God Journey because we haven’t needed to monetize it. We offer our content free and figure if people want to sign up for notifications or download a free audio or book, they can do it without harvesting their data for our purposes.

Monetizing the kingdom alters its nature and its message.

Hasn’t that happened in religious institutions? Many start with a genuine desire to serve people. Over time, however, the success of the program becomes more important than helping people with their needs. The mission shifts. It’s no longer what we can give to you; it is what we need from you for the ministry to survive. Instead of feeling served, you feel exploited, even if “for your own good,” as some say.

“That’s just sound business practice,” others might argue.

Precisely. That is my point. Mammon or kingdom. Only if you trust Father to provide for you can you give as freely to others as he has given to you.

The Gospel is a gift!  It’s always a gift. When it ceases to be a gift, it ceases to be the Gospel. Monetizing it changes its nature. I wrote an article about this years ago, mentioning the power of Alcoholics Anonymous. It has altered the lives of millions of people. Why does it stay so pure to its mission? Because it has remained free. It is a decentralized organization that continues to inspire those who’ve been helped to willingly help others without cost. There are no membership dues, no staff to pay, and no books to purchase. It’s people helping people—willingly, graciously, and freely.

I wonder what the life of Jesus would look like today if the Gospel had never been organized and monetized for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many.

 

 

Kenya Update: Gratefulness

I got some delightful news from the people we’ve been helping recently in Forkland and Bungoma in Kenya.  I wanted to share it with you. This young man above narrates a brief video below of thanksgiving for the school supplies purchased for the students at Forkland and the 300 youth who were abandoned there a month ago in a time of extreme poverty and need.

Construction has started for this inundation of orphans they were not expecting.  Here’s how Michael described it:

On behalf of the Forkland village rehabilitation center, God heard the strong cry of suffering from these innocent kids who could not help themselves. I believe this big number of children from the entire village has brought great transformation after the quick intervention to answer their prayers. We have worked tirelessly to make sure that the funds we receive from this wonderful family along with prayers to use it wisely. It can directly fit the program as planned.

Although the cost of metal and other items have risen, it has not affected our budget. We handed over the funds to the engineer and the water company and we are not handling the money anymore except for the feeding program, school fees for the children, and other needs (books, pens, uniforms, etc.) We gave the first priority to the children both primary and secondary, and also the teenage mothers under the guidance and counseling of the caretakers.

The engineer has assured within two months the children will have housing. So we thank God so much for this miracle that the Lord has provided to save these children. We are joining the children in prayers and standing with them.

In Bungoma. the children saw the truck enter the compound. They were joyous and sang praises to the Lord through the dust and noise of the drilling (pictured left). They found an abundance of water after penetration through the rock for two days. The company is still working to put everything in order and very soon we shall be harvesting plenty water for the children and for the community. The community also is happy and thanks God for the water.  Every day they do come for a while and see what is taking place wow. This is amazing.

You will be updated on the progress.

They also sent along this video of one of the students expressing his gratitude for their supplies. You may want to turn on closed captioning to help understand him through his rich accent.

Of course, the need won’t end there. So, if any of you want to help with the continuing needs in Kenya, we are still collecting money to send their way. As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer feesPlease see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to @LifestreamMinistries or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.