Oops, My Bad!

I completely botched the announcement for the next live, online, He Loves Me conversation. I originally got the date wrong and now Sara and I have had a shift in our schedule that means I now have to move the time up half an hour. I’m so sorry for the confusion and inconvenience this causes.

Here is the corrected information:

Our discussion about chapters eight and nine of He Loves Me will take place
this coming Saturday, December 9 at 12:30 pm,
half an hour earlier than previously announced.
We will be discussing chapters 8 and 9.

If you’d like to join us, you can find the link for this conversation on the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

No, I’m not blaming the new puppy; I only chose the picture, hoping the cuteness will make people smile when they read about my mistake!  But Zoey does wonder from time to time why we let this little, yippy, biting furball into the house. Watching them bond is hilarious. Mandy is all in; Zoey has her moments. In time, we know that these are destined to be best buds.

You No Longer Need to Fear God

In the earliest days of my faith, my view of God was stoked by fear. He was a stern and demanding judge, offended by humanity’s failures, and only the death of Jesus made it tolerable for him to be with us. Fear was also a primary tool my parents used to motivate our behavior. I don’t blame them for that; they didn’t know better. Their religion was steeped in it, so it became their best tool to motivate a disobedient child. Like the threat of hell, they had to find punishments more terrifying than the pleasure we found in doing things our way.

I regret using more of that on my children than I would today. Discovering how tender and loving Father is over the last three decades has changed so much more in my life than fear ever could. While fear is a powerful tool to change behavior in the short term, it does not endear people to the one threatening them. The invitation to know God is not the fear of the consequences of not doing so, but because his nature is so endearing and his desires for us so engaging. That’s why his “perfect love casts out all fear… because the one who fears cannot be perfected in love.” (I John 4)

Learning that changed the entire trajectory of my spiritual journey. No longer tormented by my fear of him, I could find a relationship with him of love, rest, and play that transformed my heart in ways fear never could. Even under the law, fear was only a temporary tool until Christ would come and turn the world upside down with a love that would transform us:

Jesus knew that fear, like a crutch for someone with a broken leg, is only a temporary fix. Though it can be a heady motivation in the short-term, it is absolutely worthless for the long haul. As such it doesn’t really change us; it only controls us as long as our fear can be stoked. That’s why sermons on God’s judgment are so common in Christianity. They confront us with our fears of God and seek to provoke us to live the way we know we should. The repentance that follows and the resolve to rededicate ourselves to Christ’s purpose makes us feel clean again.

Such experience actually helps us live better for a while—but only for a while. Eventually the passion of such moments fades and the old self encroaches its way back into our lives. We end up caught in the same patterns from which we had repented. Soon the cycle repeats itself.

Fear cannot lead us to life-long transformation, but only a momentary reformation of behavior. Instead of inviting us to enter into relationship with the Living God, it pushes us away with feelings of inadequacy and repetitious failure.

Jesus had a far better way. He wanted to break the bondage of fear itself—even our fear of God. He knew of a force far more powerful—one that would not fade with the passing of time and would invite us into the depths of relationship with God. He would settle for nothing else. Why should we?

Excerpted from chapter nine of He Loves Me

If you’re having trouble finding freedom from fear in your relationship with God, join us for the next meeting of the He Loves Me Book Club that will take place next Saturday, December  9, at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

This week, we will discuss chapters eight and nine about finding our way into the mercy of God and no longer needing fear to help us find freedom. In fact, he offers freedom from our fear of him so that we can come to rest in the love of a gracious Father. That’s where everything good begins to reshape our life story.


And don’t forget, from now until the end of the year, we are offering a 15% discount on any order you place from Lifestream before the end of the year. Just enter “Lifestream2023” in the coupon window at check-out.

Consider giving some of these books to your friends and family for Christmas. A Man Like No Other, The Shack, He Loves Me, Live Loved, Free Full, and Authentic Relationships will bless almost anyone thinking about Jesus’s life. So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, Beyond Sundays, and Finding Church will encourage people disillusioned by organized religion and seeking alternatives. In Season will enable believers to cultivate a deeper place for Jesus to engage their hearts.

You can find all the books Wayne has contributed to here. And if you order in bulk, you can find even deeper discounts.

Grateful Even in Letting Go

For those of us in the States, today is Thanksgiving Day. Though its origin isn’t the cleanest story in our history, setting aside a day to remember God’s goodness despite human frailty is beautiful for all of us.

But how can you be grateful when your life is wrecked with pain or your year is full of loss?

Over the past few years, Sara and I have had significant changes in our lives, some quite painful. Almost everything about our lives has changed in the last two years—from moving homes to reordering our lives significantly to the loss of valuable family relationships to giving up writing for a while, and even the death of my dad and a few other significant men in my life. Last week, we even lost our beloved golden retriever, Abby, who had been a substantial part of our family for the past thirteen years.

Loss hurts, and changes forced upon us by circumstance or the actions of others can be so hard to bear. But that doesn’t mean they can’t lead to gratefulness. In our pain and grief, Sara and I hold the sorrow of our hearts in the presence of Jesus until the loss is swallowed up in his goodness and joy. That’s what grief is supposed to do: to replace the sting of loss with the sweet memories and gifts they instilled in us. That process can take months or even years, but if you hold it in him, his glory will appear.

A few days ago, a good friend, Dana Andreychen of Charlottesville, VA, sent me a poem called Autumn. She also wrote the poem Allowing My Past to Catch up with Me, which I shared here almost eighteen months ago. Not only was the poem timely for a story unfolding in our lives, but it also expresses what it means to love our childhood selves through the trauma they experienced.

Autumn was written out of deep grief and captures this pathway through loss to life so eloquently.


Summer makes its exit
like a treasured soul who
runs through my hands like water
which grasping cannot hold.
With tenderness, I release my grip
and watch it float upward
like a crimson leaf
on this morning’s current
toward a crisp blue sky,
then settle like Autumn
to a littered ground
of harvest color.
I lift it up, body and soul,
and treasure it beautiful,
palms open,
for what it is, for what it was,
for what it may become.
I press it between the pages
of a beloved book
relishing the stories I find there,
and put it on my shelf of favorites
whose lines I will quote from time to time.
Which has played
a part in my becoming.
At times I will reread the volume
of what has been written
in indelible ink,
while knowing that seasons change.
After musing for a while,
I close the book,
place the treasured tome
in its place of honor
and walk out into the unfolding of today…

I love the imagery here of trying to grasp what cannot be grasped and holding our loss lightly as you see how presence and loss are both part of the story God is writing in our hearts. Finally, we can honor the joy of what we lost, place it among our sweetest memories, and open our hearts to what this day might hold.

Not only is this true for the loss of valued relationships, but it is also true for loss brought on by bad fortune, betrayal, or treachery. The latter is far sweeter to process, of course, as you can be thankful for the gift those people were in your life. Nonetheless, even the brutal circumstances in our lives can write God’s story in our hearts in ways that will shape us for whatever else is to come.

Either way, letting Jesus resolve the pain in our hearts will shape us more to live with his grace in the world. In time, you will find yourself overwhelmingly grateful that he is greater than any circumstance that can befall us.

I hope you find your way to thanksgiving, even in moments of loss and disappointment. Learning how he does this will serve you well as your future unfolds.

Finding Church in Russia

Finding Church, my take on discovering and living in the church Jesus is building in the world, rather than the facsimile we humans try to build, is now available in the Russian language. You can find more information here. And to celebrate with our Russian friends, Lifestream is offering a 15% discount for any of my books sold through our website until the end of the year. Just enter “Lifestream2023” in the coupon window at check-out. This book is already available in German, Dutch, French, and Spanish.

In addition, our International Page includes all the books and articles others have translated into various world languages. This includes Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, South Korean, Spanish, Swahili, and Tamil. Some resources are free; others must be ordered from the publisher.

Here is an excerpt from Finding Church that will help you understand its theme:

The church of the new creation is more like wildflowers strewn across an alpine meadow than a walled garden with manicured hedges.

I realize such a seemingly amorphous view of the church will make many nervous, especially those who think it their God-given duty to manage a group of people on his behalf or else the church can’t exist. But it can. And I’m not advocating for the isolated, everyone-is-a-church-to-themselves idea. The church takes her expression in relationships we have with others who are also following him—local friendships as well as international connections that he knits together.

We’ll first see it reflected in conversations where Jesus makes himself known. Some of those conversations will grow into more enduring friendships that become part of the fabric of our lives as we serve, encourage, and grow together. These friendships will lead to others, and out of that network of friends and friends of friends, God will have all the resources he needs to invite us to agreement in prayer and collaborative actions to fulfill his purposes around us.

Can it really be that simple?  This is perhaps the greatest stumbling block to people seeing the church for what she is. It’s too simple, they think, or too easy. So they put their trust in the vast array of discordant institutions instead of the work of Jesus. As we’ll see connecting is difficult only because it is far easier than we dare to believe. In fact, you probably have those growing connections with people, even in the congregation you attend. I’m only suggesting that your interaction with them expresses more freely the life of the church than sitting in a pew watching the staged activity up front.

This is my follow-up to So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. When you see through the frailties of institutions created in our image, you’re ready to discover the relationships in which Jesus’s church thrives all around you.


Don’t forget, from now until the end of the year, we are offering a 15% discount on any order you place from Lifestream before the end of the year. Just enter “Lifestream2023” in the coupon window at check-out.

Consider giving some of these books to your friends and family for Christmas. A Man Like No Other, The Shack, He Loves Me, Live Loved, Free Full, and Authentic Relationships will bless almost anyone who is thinking about the life of Jesus. So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, Beyond Sundays, and Finding Church will encourage people disillusioned by organized religion and seeking alternatives. In Season will enable believers to cultivate a deeper place for Jesus to engage their hearts.

You can find all the books Wayne has contributed to here. And if you order in bulk, you can find even deeper discounts.

The Gift of Tom Mohn

When people ask me what books most shaped my life and spiritual journey, I tell them it has never been books; it has always been people. While I’ve read many excellent books and been enlightened by many of them, what has most impacted my journey is the older brothers and sisters I’ve known who have illuminated the pathway before me and held my heart in my most discouraging times.

That’s the richest treasure of the community, his Church in the world. They weren’t “like-minded people,” or they wouldn’t have been able to add insight to my journey. When they crossed my path, I recognized a tenderness in their demeanor and a depth in their soul. Many of them were 15 or 20 years my senior, not people we would typically engage. And yet, I was drawn into a growing friendship with each of them. None of them talked down to me or positioned themselves as a teacher. They accepted me as a friend and allowed me to watch their lives as they struggled through the challenges of faith in a world of chaos.

At every critical moment in my journey, God provided at least one of them to walk with me through pain and hurt, helping me understand what God might be doing in my circumstances and how I might respond in a way that would draw me deeper into the Father’s purpose in my life. I am grateful for all they added to my life and the deep friendship I shared with each of them through significant stretches of my journey.

And now, it seems I’m here to mark their passing—men and women of whom the world was not worthy. I’ve already told you about Kevin Smith from Australia, Dave Coleman, who helped me write So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, and my father, Eugene Jacobsen. Last week, Tom Mohn, one of these dear friends from Tulsa, OK, joined Jesus in eternity. Over the past few days, I’ve reflected on what Tom meant to me and how encouraging he was to Father’s work in my heart. I met Tom later in life, but we connected almost instantly, and I remember fondly the many stories and insights we shared. You can read some of his reflections in his book, Good Morning Brother Pilgrim.

I can remember the details and laughter of so many conversations. We shared dreams, discouragements, and disagreements. Though I was with him less than a dozen times, each was rich with thoughts about God and how we engage him with growing trust and love.

He was our guest on one of the most impactful podcasts from our earliest days at The God Journey, called The Things God Uses. It is one of my all-time favorites and I have recalled his words often and shared them with others who are going through painful transitions. You can listen to it in the link above, but I want to share the high points here. He said God used four critical seasons to shape Tom’s life. Some are quite surprising, and I have also found them to be true in my journey.

  1. The first is a measure of fruitfulness that demonstrates to us that God is with us and can express himself through us in simple and mundane ways as we live alongside others. We all need that affirmation.
  2. The second is a massive dose of failure, not something we got a little wrong but a significant mistake that blew up in our faces. Most people hide such moments, but Tom spoke openly about his, for only then will we distrust our own wisdom and abilities enough that we can begin to trust God and look for his hand at work in us.
  3. The third is being part of a gargantuan heretical movement. He called it aversion therapy—to be so caught up in the arrogance of group-think that you think you have all the correct answers and everyone needs to kneel at your feet to learn the truth. When it gets exposed, you find out you were more in love with the movement than you were with God and loved the role of expert more than servant. Of course, when you realize it, you’ll want to repent and let him soften you rather than double down on your mistaken beliefs in our attempts to save face.
  4. The fourth is a devastating betrayal by a close, intimate friend, especially one you did not deserve. It can happen with a spouse, a business partner, a family member, or a ministry colleague. Only in the depth of pain that you can’t recover from alone will you discover the depth of fellowship in the sufferings of Jesus. It will mark you with a humility that will never put the lust for power over the life of anyone you care about.

Of course, we’ve all been through these experiences and others that shape us, but only if we respond to God in them. Most people grow arrogant in fruitfulness, angry in failure, defensive when proven wrong, and bitter in betrayal. That’s why I appreciate these people who have walked alongside me and pointed to a better road when sharing their own stories.

I’m convinced you have people like that around you, too, which is why I wrote this piece. You have to find them; they won’t knock on your door. But who around you knows the God you want to know and demonstrates the character you find engaging? Ask God to show you who they are, and then find ways to spend time with them and see how the friendship builds over time. Take a risk on people older than you, and don’t assume they won’t care or understand the choices you confront. In most cases, they’ve been through what you’re now facing.

Don’t look for someone to tell you what to do but those who will share their friendship. Then, you’ll glean all the wisdom God wants to give you through those marinated in his love through the most painful circumstances.

The Tyranny of the Favor Line

The next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion will take place on Saturday, November 11, at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

This week, we will discuss chapters five and six, two pivotal chapters for my journey, and what I see in others who seek to live in God’s affection. If you grew up in a religious environment, you were probably convinced that God’s love, favor, or blessing were things you had to earn. Without referring to it by name, you were taught that God has a Favor Line. If you’re good enough, spiritually active enough, or zealous enough, then you can rest in his love.

So, every thought of being out of sorts with God sends you sifting through your life to think about what more you must do or what sin is causing God to dislike you. If you believe God’s love or favor is something you can earn, you will chase it to frustration the rest of your days. When you realize that affection is something you cannot attain, even on your best day, you’re ready to discover that you already have it.

This excerpt from He Loves Me tells about the day a young Pharisee discovered that truth. He was called Saul on this day, but afterward, he became known as Paul, the apostle:

In that moment, Saul discovered God’s favor when he had done absolutely nothing to earn it. Instead of being punished, he received an invitation to come into the family he had tried so hard to destroy. Instead of the death he’d brought to others, he was offered a life that he never knew existed.

Saul was left with one inescapable fact: he had done nothing to propel himself above the favor line, but found himself there nonetheless. He found that Jesus had loved him even when he had no idea who he was. For Jesus had shattered the favor line to free Saul from its tyranny. It changed him more than all he’d previously learned about God.

This is where relationship with God begins. It may sound impossible especially if you’ve hoped for this in the past and, like the young mother at the beginning of this chapter, you have only been disappointed by how remote he seemed when you needed him the most. All you knew to do was try even harder to be good enough to win his affection.

But such thinking will never lead you closer to him. Instead of teaching you to love him, it only leaves you angry and frustrated that you can’t do enough, or that he isn’t being fair to you. He wants to break this cycle the only way he can—by making his favor a gift instead of something you earn.

I know you’ve heard me say it often: our awareness of the Father’s love is not something we can achieve; it’s something we relax into. And I know how hard that is to believe, especially if you’ve never known or “felt” his love. But his love for us is as sure as the sun rising in the morning and as certain as his Son dying on the cross to rescue us.

You are already loved!

And now a bit from my story in chapter six:

God doesn’t need us to serve him as a means to attain his love or affection. He wants us to serve him out of the love and affection he already holds for us in his heart. If you have never tasted that reality, you cannot imagine the freedom that lies ahead of you. My Father brought me to the place where I realized that even if I never preached another sermon, never counseled another person, nor ever led someone to Christ again, he still delighted in me as his child.

That doesn’t mean he approves of everything I do, but it has freed me to know that he loves me—absolutely and completely. I had served God for thirty-four years always with an undercurrent of trying to earn his favor. It has only been in the last twelve that I’ve learned to live in that favor and I’m never going back.

That’s when it became clear. It is not the fear of losing God’s favor that takes us to the depth of fellowship with him and transforms our lives with his holiness. It is our certainty of knowing his unrelenting love for us, even in the midst of our weakness and failure, that lead us to the fullness of his life.

Fear had never taken me to the depths of his life or his transforming power; discovering his delight has. I now know that the key to God’s favor doesn’t rest on what I give him, but what he already has given to me.

He delights in you, too. Can you see him that way over you, exalting and dancing with joy?

No? Do you think your failures and doubts diminish his love for you? Are you afraid you can’t offer him enough to make him notice you?

He doesn’t delight in you because of your deeds or your gifts. He delights in you simply because you are his.

Even if you don’t know that yet, it doesn’t change the facts. He wants you to know, at the core of your being, how deeply loved by God you are. Talk to him about it. Look for his fingerprints and whispers doing our day. He is best seen in subtle movements and heard best in quiet moments. Ask him to help you relax into that reality and cease the fruitless striving that cannot earn what has already been given.

The reason I write, podcast, and hold these conversations about He Loves Me is so you, too, can know that reality. Join us if you want, or listen to these conversations later. They are real people also learning how to live in the reality of his love

If you’ve missed the previous chapters, you can find them here:

The Trajectory of Truth

Sara and I have just begun a fresh reading through Romans to hold what we’ve been learning about trauma and sin up to the light of Paul’s understanding of redemption.

In the first chapter, Paul mentions “the righteousness that comes by faith,” which is the theme of the entire book—how God does by grace what human effort could never achieve. I’ve taught this book many times throughout my life. On this read, it became clear to me how much the meaning of that phrase has changed over time. Truth, it seems, has a trajectory. It’s not a set of facts we come to believe, as if we could clearly see all its implications from the outset. Instead, Truth is the reality we come to embrace over time as Jesus continues to reveal himself and his light to us.

Reflecting on our journey with that phrase provides an interesting roadmap for the fascinating adventure Sara and I have shared.

In my younger days, I would have interpreted that phrase to mean “the good deeds that come from ‘the’ faith.” I would have seen faith as the total of the New Testament rituals and principles I believed and tried to implement. My focus was on my obedience to a list of New Testament expectations. Looking back, I wouldn’t say it led me to more righteousness but more of an appearance of righteousness. I learned how to act better, especially when I was being watched, but doing so only drove the unrighteousness deeper as it found refuge in “righteousness indignation” or “religious arrogance.” Both can be so easily justified as they provide the excuse we need to live a loveless life.

In my twenties and thirties, I would have interpreted that phrase as “the perfection that faith should produce.” This meant the perfection of my actions was the tool I used to evaluate the quality of my faith in God. In my more honest moments, every sin or failure became a source of condemnation and the constant demand for me to try harder. In moments of cognitive dissonance, I would find comfort in the fact that I was working harder than most other Christians I knew as if Jesus were judging on the bell curve. Again, the fruit of that was not righteousness but simply me trying harder to meet God’s standards.

In my mid-forties and early fifties, I would have interpreted that phrase, “Trusting God is the righteousness he seeks.” Some of what Paul says elsewhere underscores this. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” So that was better but still not complete. While there was no shame in it nor any call to perform better, it still didn’t allow me to recognize the transformation God wanted to do in my heart. My alleged faith became a cheap substitute for how he invited me to live rightly with myself and others instead of being the source of that transformation.

For the last twenty years, I have come to interpret that phrase as, “the whole-hearted living that results from my growing trust in Father’s love.” Rather than being an oppressive obligation God puts on us, righteousness is the essence of the freedom to be all God created me to be. I make my better decisions in his wisdom when I am at rest in him instead of striving. Growing trust does produce growing freedom. It not only seeks to untwist me from the distorting of darkness but also engages me with God’s purposes unfolding in the broader world. In my struggles, I’m less bogged down by my well-being and am increasingly aware of how he is loving me and the people around me. Though his way may mean greater pain in the short run, it leads me to a better way to deal with the uncertainties of life. It reminds me that my work is not trying to act more righteously but to find rest in his love and his work in the situations that confront me each day.

In each case, I would have used the exact phrase but applied it quite differently. Those who say, “I just believe what the Bible says,” don’t realize how often they interpret its words. We all do it, often in the vacuum of religious biases or our comfort. They can easily distort its meaning even as we claim to hold fast to the truth of Scripture. What we take Scripture to mean is always an interpretation. In the Jesus Lens, I said the most dangerous Christians in the world are those who don’t know they are interpreting the Bible and assume their interpretation is the only right one.

I have found that my interpretations of Scripture continue to change under the increasing light of his Spirit as he intersects with the reality of my life. How I have come to see “the righteousness that comes faith” in sharper focus over time has clarified its meaning for me. I can only wonder what insights this next decade might bring.

I love that my life is still being shaped by Paul’s words, confirmed by the continuing work of his Spirit in my heart. Seeing how those two line up has provided me the adventure of a lifetime as I awake each day with anticipation as to what he is still refining in my heart and mind.


Also of note— 

The next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion, which will take place on Saturday, November 11, at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

This week, we’ll cover Chapters Six and Seven: “The Tyranny of the Favor Line” and “What Shall I Give to God.” Each of these further breaks down the futility of trying to earn God’s favor with our good works or gifts and invites us into the depth of his love that overcomes all our need to perform.

If you’ve missed previous chapters you can find them here:

You Have No Idea

It’s never a bad day to put some generosity in the world.

A good friend wrote me this week to let me know how the October 31 reading in Live Loved Free Full inspired an act of generosity that lay before him on the very day he was reading it. The reading encouraged him to give beyond what he was already planning to give to someone in need.

You can’t do generosity out of guilt; it will never end up in the right place. But if you walk through your day with a generous heart, God may just show you someone who could use some financial help, a gift of time in a meaningful conversation, or some practical help with a difficult problem. Generosity changes the world; it is the antidote to violence and vengeance so prevalent in our day

Here’s the reading for October 31 and reading it again warmed my heart with the possibilities that each day presents if we can look beyond ourselves to a world in need around us:

We were just finishing our meal with my daughter and the grandkids at Bandit’s, my favorite BBQ restaurant, when I noticed a young couple sitting at a table behind Sara making goo-goo eyes at each other and doting over a one-year-old sitting in a high chair at the end of the table. I was touched by the sweetness of that young family.

I pointed them out to Sara and suggested we pick up their check. It’s something we do occasionally ever since I was involved in a fight for the check at an ice cream parlour in Framingham, Massachusetts, twenty-five years ago. When our hosts pulled rank, demanding to pay it, I picked up the check of a young couple on the other side of the restaurant as an act of surrender.

Since then Sara and I occasionally pick up a check for random strangers. So, I told the waitress I wanted to pay the bill for the family near us. She asked if I wanted to keep it anonymous, which we usually do, but this time it didn’t seem important.

When they finished, they got up to leave and walked by our table without a glance. They didn’t know. They must have sought out the waitress, however, because two minutes later someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up, startled, and immediately the young mother broke into tears.

I stood up and introduced myself, and she hugged me while barely able to whisper in my ear, “You have no idea! You have no idea!” When she collected herself, she said, “That little boy was in a hospital Sunday night with a 105-degree fever. We almost lost him.” She broke down again. Now I was tearing up. “You have no idea what this means to us, that Someone knows.”

Sara and I left the restaurant with our hearts soaring. How fun was it to be part of something like that and watch someone be loved by God without us having to tag it with our own graffiti? And Julie said her kids talked about it all the way home, wanting to know what we did and why that woman was crying on Grandpa’s shoulder!

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:10


You can order your copy of Live Loved Free Full here. I designed this book to help people have a relational thought every morning that would draw them inside the Father’s heart and set a grace-filled tone to the day. It also makes an excellent Christmas gift for someone looking for that kind of encouragement.

The Thrill of His Presence

It’s one of my favorite epigraphs in He Loves Me. At the beginning of Chapter Five are these words:

The great danger facing all of us . . . is that someday we may wake up and find that we have been busy with husks and trappings of life and have really missed life itself. That is what one prays one’s friends may be spared—satisfaction with a life that…has in it no tingle or thrill that comes from a friendship with the Father.

Phillips Brooks (1835–1893) in Sermons

Those seasons where I gave into distractions of life or let my spiritual journey slide into keeping up with the disciplines I’d been taught are the emptiest seasons of my life. Like most in such seasons, I accused God of going quiet as punishment for my waywardness or to try to make me work harder. I know better now; I had settled for something less than Presence. I had enough of God’s things in my hands that I thought I could move forward on my own.

This quote from Phillips Brooks touches something deep in me—the reminder of the tingle or thrill that comes only from his Presence. He shows up, often when I least expect it, with an insight, a connection with someone else, or a sense of serenity in the midst of a howling storm. Suddenly, my heart or body comes alive, knowing someone Greater is here—in me. The Presence is greater than any sorrow or uncertainty. It is comfort beyond description and joy unspeakable. When he shows up like that, I am confident that there is a way through anything that will lead to his life and light.

I don’t chase the thrill; that, too, can be a distraction. Instead, I relax into his reality, where I can recognize him. That’s the thrill!

Chapter 5 in He Loves Me is titled “Welcome Home” and will be the subject of a Zoom conversation this Saturday morning (October 28) as part of our continuing conversation through the themes of this book. You are welcome to join us at 11 a.m. PDT. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. The conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who want to listen in. You’ll find our previous conversations there.

Being welcomed home is what Sara and I experienced this week from our seven-week trip. What a joy to be at home again in an environment that is warm and comforting. That’s what Jesus offered us with his Father in John 14—to be “at home” in him! You need not be intimidated or fearful in the presence of Jesus’s Father. You can be at rest in him even as he helps you negotiate the most painful realities of life in this broken world. You can’t learn this on your own; only Jesus can teach you how to be at rest in his love and goodness.

But don’t settle for anything less; it is the best part of living in this age. It may take a while for you to learn how to recognize the way he touches your heart and invites you into his household, but it is well worth learning. All of life pulls us away from that reality, but the invitation is always there. “Come to me, my beloved, and be at home in my heart.”


Love Is a Pain

Sara and I are set to arrive home today from our seven-week trip across the middle part of the United States. This trip has been remarkable and challenging in so many ways, but in all, well worth it. We’ve shared the ups and downs with our podcast audience in the last few weeks and won’t reiterate them here. Sara joins me for the podcast coming up this Friday.

One of the things we’ve been doing during our long driving days is to discuss putting a book together with our story of the last year and a half. We hope to encourage people who navigate some dark waters to find Jesus there and let him reverse the effects of the trauma or sin that has overwhelmed them.

To help with our recollection, we began to listen to our original seven Redeeming Love podcasts, where Sara and I tell that story close to the time those events unfolded. It’s been a bit surreal to hear us talk about events that shaped our lives in ways we could not have foreseen and now enjoying the fruit of all that pain and the joy that has come of it.

In the first, I tell a story that I had forgotten. It was in the earliest days when my agony was almost unbearable. My friend Luis saw me at my lowest, in those moments of hopelessness where I had no thought Sara would return, and I would somehow have to craft a life without her. Though God had seemingly promised me otherwise, the visible evidence was overwhelmingly against that happening. He sat with me through many tears and painful silences.

One morning, he came to my house, deeply touched by a dream he had the night before. In the dream, he sat on a park bench with Jesus, asking Jesus if he could take my pain away. “I could,” Jesus responded. “but I can’t take his pain away without taking his love away.”

I was blown away when he told me. I have never wanted to embrace pain or love more than I did at that moment. I wanted both. I wanted to love Sara deeply and, simultaneously hold the agony of missing her as the circumstances would still unfold. Avoiding pain would not help me love her. And I discovered that God’s love is bigger than my most hopeless moments and can hold me in the midst of them.

If there were ever a prayer I am glad God did not answer, it would be the one. I wouldn’t have volunteered to give up my love to save me that pain. Today, it makes me wonder how many prayers I have offered to God that, had he answered, would have had unforeseeable consequences. When we pray for things we want, we are often clueless about the harm doing so might cause for ourselves or others.

It also appears we are saying goodbye to our beloved golden retriever, Abby, after nearly thirteen years of enjoying her presence in our family. It will hurt deeply when she leaves us, but the depth of pain only testifies to the extent of love we have for her. I wouldn’t have skipped those thirteen years not to feel the grief that will come with her passing. I will embrace that grief as a testimony of the love and life we have shared.

Love is a pain. But knowing it is even sweetens the pain it causes. And having God’s comfort inside that pain makes the unbearable bearable.

C.S. Lewis said, “If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.”

That it is.


A reminder:  Chapter 5 will be the focus of our next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion, which will take place this Saturday, October 28, at 11 a.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. The conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

Holding God’s Pain

I was asked last week how I was praying about the current strife in the Middle East. That would have been far easier for me to answer a few decades ago when my world was conveniently divided into a home team and an away team.

God loves the home team and those who acknowledge him. I could pray with passion for God to alleviate their suffering. God hates the away team, and we can pray down his vengeance on them, which gave me false comfort in our anger and helplessness. At least, that’s what I was taught.

Of course, I was on the home team as a passionate, evangelical Christian. Those who believed in the God, I thought, shared that team with me. Those that didn’t were on the away team, and my, oh, my, was God angry at them. (Or was it only me?)

Directing the hateful passages in the Psalms against those I perceived to be God’s enemies was easy. You know, the ones—praying for the devastation of his enemy and their kin, even that their grandkids would be plagued with boils. As I grew up, the away team grew larger over time. Originally, heathens were on the list—atheists and the like. But with time, the team expanded to include communists, socialists, Catholics (for some reason), Muslims, Democrats, dictators, cultists, liberals, people who refused to work, even complacent Christians who didn’t work as hard as I did or those who didn’t believe the same things I did.

Dividing the world into a home team and an away team gave me an easy way to route my grief and fear in times of tragedy. Suffering was not indiscriminate but God’s punishment for not living their lives the way he wanted. It’s not so far a step from there to believe that the pain itself proves you’re God’s enemy. Then, what do you do when you thought you were on the home team and disaster still strikes? Your faith gets rocked!  

I no longer believe any of that. Love has been teaching me how misguided I was. God’s heart breaks for the whole of humanity, for those who know him and those who don’t. Today, he holds the same grief for the Palestinian mom mourning her child as he does for the Jewish mom grieving hers. 

I don’t write this to discount the horrible evil people bring into the world. The attack in Israel was particularly horrific and depraved. The nature of evil that incites people to torture or terrorize innocents is a scourge on our humanity, and the weapon dark forces wield to wreak havoc on the planet. 

As horrific as that is, I’ve been invited to a different kingdom where love defines our responses, not vengeance or righteous indignation. Just how did we think Jesus would tell us to love our enemies and think God gets to hate his?

No, I write this to answer how I’m praying into this crisis. Honestly, I’m still holding space with God, tasting his broken heart for the human-on-human violence that consumes our planet. I see his pain when Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb and when he offered “loud cries and tears” to his Father. He feels the suffering of this world at a depth we can’t begin to imagine. He doesn’t delight in it. He’s not its cause; he is its remedy.

And here, I’m not talking just about the attack on Israel but all the conflicts and disasters in the world. The world is hemorrhaging blood everywhere—in Ukraine and Syria, cartel battles in Mexico, tribal violence in Africa, and despicable dictatorships in South and Central America. Who knows what happens in Russian, Chinese, and North Korean prisons or even our own? There are murders, famines, earthquakes, floods, and fires around the globe destroying people, along with the torment of disease, abuse, sexual assault, and slavery.

How does God hold all this pain?

I’m just beginning to learn as I sit with him and gaze at the news through the eyes of God and wonder what agony he endures as the Father of this Creation. Nothing wounds a father more than to see his children seek to destroy each other. I’ll let my prayers rise from there, and right now, I’m still holding that space with him.

What does it mean to God for us to hold a small measure of his pain? Perhaps it gives him voices on earth who can reflect his heart as well as his truth. Maybe the “fellowship of suffering” comforts him in the same way it comforts us. I’m not sure, but I do know one thing: Jesus wanted some of his friends to hold his pain with him in Gethsemane on the night of his trial and the eve of his crucifixion. They couldn’t offer it that night, but we can today.

What does it do for him? I’m not quite sure, but it is cleansing to my soul. Over the past two years, it has changed my life, my viewpoint of others, and how to find the redemption story in the unfolding realities of our ever-darkening world. It saves me from giving into anger and vengeance and finding a place for love to thrive in my prayers and my heart.

As the earth moves relentlessly towards its inevitable conclusion in Christ, we can partner with him by holding his pain and praying to advance his purpose in current events. If I don’t see reality through his eyes, I’m only left to offer up fruitless requests for my own comfort or my agenda in the gathering darkness. I’m convinced God wants an army of praying people fixed on his purpose instead of their gain.

How do I hold pain with God? I sit (or walk) with him. I gaze at the circumstance that concerns me,  contemplating what he must feel. I wait until I have a sense of that. Sometimes, it takes days or weeks, and I repeatedly ask him to show me his heart in that space.

As I get a glimpse of his heart, I reflect on the emotion or insight growing in my heart. I reflect on his power and wisdom and that everything is in his hands. I remind myself that the God I’m holding space with is not alarmed or disturbed. And I also look beyond the pain to the refrain of his glory seeping through. He’s the Redeemer in this story and will have the last say on everything.

I don’t try to fix his pain or offer my ideas for a way out. I just hold my heart with his and see what comes.

How did I learn this? Two places. First, in letting him hold my pain without the angst of having him fix it the way I want. I gain wisdom and courage when I find his comfort and wisdom more significant than my desire to stop the pain. Second, in holding the pain of others by sitting with them in their agony, grief, or disappointed expectations as we look for God’s revelation of himself. I don’t try to fix them either with my wisdom or for my own comfort.

I’m not naive enough to think I hold the fullness of God’s agony. No doubt it would kill me. But to have just the slightest taste of what he might feel changes everything—my feelings, perspectives, and hopes.

Most of all, I have come to learn that God’s love doesn’t discriminate between the home team and the away team. He loves us all at the core of his being and will do whatever we allow him to do to heal our hearts and win us into his freedom. Many will reject that, of course, but he never stops knocking at their heart, holding them in with deep passion and sometimes agony.

And when I know my Father hurts, I want to be with him, seeing what he sees and feeling what he feels.

I would not have wanted to miss this part of the journey. All my other attempts at prayer seem so meaningless now.


For more on holding God’s pain, see our recent podcast on The Fellowship of Suffering.


Chapter 5 will be the focus of our next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion, which will take place on Saturday, October 28, at 11 a.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. The conversations are held and recorded on Zoom.

We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.


Going Home!

When I traveled without Sara, my favorite day was when I traveled home. That’s not as significant when she is with me because home is wherever Sara is, and right now, that is in an RV outside of San Antonio, TX. Nevertheless, it is time to head home to the place prepared for Sara in Southern California, and we are making plans to leave soon.

But in some sense, we are all on the way home, right? Because now home is wherever our Father is and where we can be at home in him. Yes, we get to taste that every day here, but there is a day coming when we get to behold him face-to-face. That was made very real to me last week in a story I tell at the beginning of this week’s podcast.

Everything now is part of our journey home, both from this trip and, in a larger sense, toward that ultimate expression of living in the Father’s heart. We’re not planning on dying any time soon, but we are aware of those things most important as we traverse this season of our lives. From here, it is easier to see what lies ahead and what is most significant and to remind ourselves to relax along the way because if Father isn’t doing the work, our efforts are in vain.

What a fantastic trip this has been! We have had so many beautiful engagements with people, some easy and some more complicated, but Father seems to be opening eyes and engaging hearts in each of them. What I admire most in people I meet is the freedom to contemplate the difficult questions about God and his reality without protecting their false notions of God or his Church. And I celebrate the courage of people to follow Jesus’ invitation into the light when people close to them have disagreed with them or even disparaged them because they can’t yet see the Truth that will guide them to freedom, too.

This has been a tremendous six-week trip, meeting with so many people and taking some significant time to continue our journey of healing as well as celebrate the victories already won. And, now we finally have a plan to head home, Lord willing!

We have had to change our plans since our big, empathetic dog Zoey had emergency surgery on Saturday morning for a flipped stomach. It was all excruciating and almost cost her life. She is recovering well now, however, and we’ll need to stay a bit longer to get her stitches out and get her final check-up. We are so grateful to have her still with us. She’s only seven and has been such a critical support to Sara on this part of her journey.

Thus, we are extending our stay in the San Antonio/Austin area for a bit longer, which works out well because we’ve found some great hunger here for more conversations and relationships, and we are excited to see what these days might hold for us.

So, our homeward schedule will look a bit like this if you’re in the area:

  • October 18 — Abilene, TX
  • October 19-20 — Amarillo, TX
  • October 21 — Gallup, NM
  • October 22-23 — Flagstaff, AZ
  • October 24 — HOME!

(Notice:  An earlier edition of this blog had all those dates in April because I’m a crazy person. We are actually headed home this month!)

If you’re somewhere along that route and want to connect with us, you can let us know, and we’ll see what we can do.

Wherever life is difficult for you today, remember your true home is not here anyway. You’ll be most at home in the Father’s heart, both as you navigate the challenges of this age and as you look forward to the day when Jesus brings us into the fullness of the Father’s presence.

How Do You End Your Day?

At day’s end, where does your mind wander?

As you assess your day, do you predominantly contemplate the places you fell short or the moments that made you grateful?

When I was pounding the religious treadmill, I always found myself far more aware of my mistakes than my joys. I’d go to bed aware of my deficiencies and promise God I’d do better the next day. But then I was right back there the next night doing the same thing. Perfection is an impossible standard.

One of the most significant changes I’ve noticed as I learn to live loved is that I’m much more focused on ways I saw Father’s hand in the day than on the disappointing moments or my failures. And I’m pretty sure I miss ninety percent of that as a barrel through life, but I am treasuring those moments I do see.

If you’ve been schooled in religious performance, it will be far easier for you to believe that God is disappointed in you rather than to believe that God is delighted in you and your desire to know him. That’s especially true when we are aware of our doubts or failures. The religious mind can’t comprehend God’s delight unless we are perfect. So, every failure is more evidence that you’re not good enough to have God’s pleasure, even in the process of him changing the waywardness of your desires.

We discussed that Sunday in our He Loves Me Discussion of chapters 3 and 4. It’s a great way to remind ourselves to stay off the religious treadmill and shift our attention to how his Spirit works in us and around us.

Paul warned us in Romans 8 that the mind focused on the flesh is death. Looking at your performance and feeling shame or frustration for your failures will literally kill you.

But he also encouraged us that when our minds are focused on his Spirit, we will experience his life and peace. So, that’s where we want to look. Don’t assess your failures every night; instead, look for ways God was involved in your day—his fingerprints, winks, whispers, nudges, encouragement, and blessings that were part of your day.

If you’re not used to doing this, don’t be surprised that it will take time to shift your focus, but doing so will bring you great joy. You’ll see that you don’t have to be perfect to have God interact with you and that he is always involved in your life, inviting you to greater rest and trust.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? Since we are helpless in our doubts and sin, we can’t change that without him inviting us into his light and equipping us with his strength and wisdom. “Be holy as I am holy” is either the most frustrating command ever given or the greatest invitation ever made. He wants to come alongside us as he shows us how to live.

So, at the end of your day, when brushing your teeth or laying your head on the pillow, ask Jesus, “How were you with me today?” Don’t hurry the moment. It may not come easy, but wait until your eyes begin to see how he walked with you through your day.

It’s like going outside to look at the stars. Initially, you’ll only see a few, but the longer you stare at the sky, the more your eyes adjust, and you’ll see more and more of its glory.

Your eyes will adjust to match your focus. Look for his delight rather than his disappointment, and you’ll find a trajectory that will rewrite your life.

Life on the Narrow Road

Sara and I visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, last week as part of our RV trip around the heartland. One room in the museum included scores of cartoons published upon his election, scorning and mocking him for his physical attributes and ideals. President Lincoln didn’t pay them much attention, though his wife, Mary, was angered by them.

The next day, Sara asked me if cartoons like that were to be published about me, would they bother me? I thought for a long time.  As a younger man, they would have. I guarded my reputation and took it personally when anyone criticized me. I would have found cartoons like that demoralizing.

But now, it has happened so often, especially by people who make up lies about me to marginalize or discredit me, that I’m well-practiced in negotiating angry people and the lies they tell to make themselves feel better or justify their destructive actions. So, I told Sara I suspect more people in the world hate the things I’ve written, especially about the church Jesus is building, than those who love them. The religious crowd can be relentless in defending the status quo, especially when it is built on so many fears that considering any other option is unthinkable.

Is that why Jesus said his way is a narrow road? Follow the crowd, and you’ll end up in a ditch somewhere with a lot of company. Pursue “likes” and clicks to monetize your thoughts, and you’ll end up bartering in half-truths and distorting the Gospel to offer people false security.

I can’t tell you how many people write me to say that the more freedom they have discovered, the less some of their old friends want to hear about it. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? The more love you have to share, the less people are willing to share it. That’s because while his love is the greatest prize we could ever discover, it does upset the applecart of our illusions.

Jesus knew the truth wouldn’t always be popular and that some would consider love a threat. He warned us that those who would persecute you would think they were doing God a favor. Those who embrace his truth and love would often be mocked and demeaned for it.

It’s not easy staying true to his work when others don’t beat a path to your door. That’s why I have treasured every email, phone call, and blog comment that lets me know people have resonated deeply with things I’ve written or recorded.  Each one is a powerful encouragement to stay the course Jesus has laid out for me.

It’s also why I write and travel to converse with hungry people. I know for every encouragement they get, they probably get twenty discouraging things said or done to them. The narrow road can get lonely sometimes, but truth and love will always be more valuable than a host of friends hoping you’ll stay stuck in the old ways.

But in the end, we dare not look to the crowd, especially religious ones, to affirm his work in us. We live to an audience of one, and while encouragement from others is significant, it is not essential.

Following him is its own reward, and when you no longer need the validation of others to be true to him and his work in you, you’ll find the narrow road a joyful place to be.

Where Trust Grows

Sara and I have left Little Rock and headed into South Texas, with stops in Waco, Austin, Wimberley, and Bulvedere (San Antonio) over the next 12 days. Details are on the travel page. We are having a wonderful time seeing what adventures and conversations God has for us each day. We’ve been talking a lot about the growth curve to trust. It is definitely easier to recognize God’s hand and trust his provision when you are at rest inside than when you are tossed about by anxiety.

But far from a choice we make, our trust is the growing response to the love Jesus reveals to us. You can’t try to trust more; you can only learn how he wants you to relax into his love. Then, you’ll be free to trust when you realize you were never in control of your life or the circumstances coming at you.

Trust. It is so easy to talk about, but so hard to put into practice. Nothing is more theologically certain than that God is faithful and trustworthy. But learning how to live in that trust through the twists and turns of our lives is the most difficult challenge we face.

It took God almost Abraham’s entire life to teach Abraham the joy of trusting him. But he did it. Even when he was asked to give up his only son and heir, he trusted God’s plan and God’s nature enough to set about the task. This, from the one who had risked his wife’s virtue by lying to Pharaoh that she was not his wife. This, from the one who had impregnated his wife’s maidservant when it didn’t appear God would give Sarah the child he promised.

To accomplish that, God did some extraordinary things for Abraham. Rest assured, God knows how difficult it is for you to trust him. He is not threatened by that nor angry with you.

He simply wants you to keep your eye on him and learn.

He knows that only by trusting him can you participate in a relationship with him and enjoy the fullness of life in his household. He also knows that you’ll trust him only to the degree that you are certain of his love for you.

I used to believe that trust was a choice, but it isn’t. We can only pretend to trust. God wants to win us into trust by winning us into his love. When you know he is all-powerful and wise beyond anything you can imagine on your best day and that he sees you, knows you, and loves you more than anyone on this planet ever has, you will grow to trust him as you watch how he cares for you. No, it won’t be by meeting your perceived needs but by leading you into his truth and light that will set to right what life in a broken world has done.
The excerpt above is from Chapter Four of He Loves Me, which will be the focus of our next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion, which will be held this Sunday, October 8, at 11:00 a.m. PDT. We’ll be finishing up Chapter 3 and moving on through Chapter 4. We are discovering together how to live loved by the Father and to allow that love to increase our trust in his reality and desires for us.
You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These discussions are held live, recorded, and posted on Zoom. If you can’t join us, catch the conversation on the Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.
You can see replays of our previous gatherings here:  


Relationships that Thrive

Great relationships are some of the best treasures we get to enjoy in this world of chaos—those where you can laugh together or cry together while deeply caring for each other wherever our journey takes us, especially when they are seeing something differently than I am.

Not all relationships are fantastic, however. Some can be downright toxic and destructive. One sociologist identified emotionally abusive people as those with low self-esteem “who wish to control others rather than engage in mutually respectful relationships that require consideration, empathy, compassion, and kindness,” These people seek to “undermine and overpower” others “regardless of the damage to their target.”

Yes, these people need love too, especially to help encourage them to freedom when they are open to it. But these are unhealthy relationships and require great emotional capacity and confidence in God’s inner work to endure their destructive ways and not internalize their accusations.

One of the things that amazes me about relationships is how quickly people give up on them when they feel hurt and make conclusions that may only be based on their fears. I’m nuts about relational repair because any good relationship will need to overcome the obstacles of human weakness, mistakes, and misunderstandings.

The best relationships in my life have some common elements that make them so incredibly wonderful:

          • Authenticity – the freedom not to measure words or pretend to get along. You won’t be rejected by being true to yourself or honest about your feelings with them.
          • Room for vulnerability – it’s okay to show weakness or be honest about our struggles because it won’t be used against you in gossip or accusations.
          • Play – You can walk through deep water together and find time to relax and breathe by not taking ourselves or each other too seriously. Life is painful enough without also enjoying moments of laughter and joy, even through difficulties.
          • Support – the willingness to help each other in practical and meaningful ways as the need arises. And,
          • Tenderness – always gentle in speech, with grace to forgive mistakes and forebear with each other’s weaknesses.


When you find friends like this, don’t let misunderstanding or distance rob you of it. Invite the difficult conversations and take on the relational repair that will help you listen to the other, own what you need to own, apologize whenever needed, and restore the friendship to celebrate another day.

And even more than looking for these qualities, ask Jesus to grow them in your heart. Someone always needs to take the lead in restoring old relationships or forging new ones. When you can offer someone the gift of authenticity and the space to explore their journey without manipulating it, you lay the foundation for a friendship that can last a lifetime.

Where might God ask you to sow some seeds into others to see what God does? Relationships don’t just happen in a vacuum; they take some intentionality and a willingness to interrupt the routines of your life enough to open the door to others around you. Jesus wants to lead you as he knits his family together, but you’ll want to participate with him if you want your relationships to grow.

That doesn’t mean every relationship you desire will work out, but enough will to enrich your life and theirs.

Where to from here? 

Sara and I are on an RV trip through the mid part of the country. Here are the plans for our upcoming days…

Columbia, MO – September 21

Sara and I finished up in Independence, MO, last night and are moving on today to Columbia, MO, today to meet with some couples at our RV park for a picnic and some conversation beginning at 4 p.m. If you want to join in, email me. Bring yard chairs and a picnic or fast food lunch. Email me for details.

Eureka, MO – September 23 

Another gathering is on Saturday afternoon, beginning at 1:30 . We’re encouraging people to bring a yard chair to sit on. If people want to grab dinner somewhere nearby at dinnertime, we will conclude with that. Email me for details.

Little Rock, AR – September 30-October 1

This is going to be a special weekend but without a lot of planning. Sara and I will be staying in the country on some private property with our RV and dogs, and we’ll hang out over the weekend. There is a planned event at 5 p.m. on Sunday that brings a local community of brothers and sisters together.

But we are also making time to hang out on Saturday and Sunday during the day to share the life of Jesus. If you want to join us, grab a place nearby, bring a yard chair, and be ready to go with the flow. We will do some walking and some sitting around to share this journey together and set up times for such via email. So write me if you plan on joining us for two days of sharing life in a relaxed and unstructured way.

Austin, TX – October 6-7

Two gatherings here.

  • Friday night, October 6, 6:00 p.m.
    You’re welcome to come a little early if you can. For planning purposes, please let us know you are coming by texting or calling Clyde at 512-789-4515 or Ralph at 512-415-2271, and they will give you the address.
  • Saturday, October 7, 4:00 p.m.
    Saturday gathering (including food) starts at the Eason house. Here’s the link to the Eventbrite link if you are interested in joining us. Space is limited here, so RSVP early if you want to come. 

Wimberly, TX – October 11

More details to come, but a Wednesday night gathering is in the works. Email me for details.

San Antonio, TX –  TBD

More details to come, but a gathering sometime that week is in the planning stages. Email me for details.

More to come as we head north through Texas and across the I-40 corridor to California.

Your Silence Was Not Absence

“I’ve never heard him speak to me or felt his love for me.”

Unfortunate words! And I’ve heard them a lot over the years, the frustrated feeling one has when they feel that God is silent. David expresses that pain well in the Psalms, saying he would be as one going down to the pit if God remained silent.

Sadder still are the conclusions people reach about themselves and God from this observation.

  • He isn’t really there.
  • If he is, he doesn’t care about me.
  • He doesn’t talk to people like me.
  • Obviously, I’m not good enough to hear him.
  • I’m not worthy of his love.

Of course, all of those are untrue, no matter how much our perception may argue. All of us have considered those things at some point, but when we can find some humility to reconsider our conclusions, admit to God that we cannot do this without him, and shed our expectations about what God should do, only then will our discernment of that voice grow. We get a glimpse here, a thought there, and begin to discover that he has been there all along.

No, this isn’t easy, and it takes some time, but that’s what his Spirit wants to do in each of us—to teach us how to recognize his whispers in the wind and his nudges on our hearts. It’s a process. Don’t be afraid of it, and don’t be discouraged when it seems you’ll never get it. He’s leading you anyway, even if you don’t recognize it yet. How do I know? Because many of the people who tell God doesn’t talk to them are following his wisdom and leaning into his character, though they may not see the source of it, many of them far more so than those who claim “God told me” to do such and such.

Maybe these words from Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt will help you:

I see now that Your silence was not absence, that my desolation was not my undoing.
In Your time-
(why must long-suffering be such long suffering?)
You plunged into the darkness that held me.
Raised me from ruin.
Reclaimed me.
Restored me.
Rooted and established me in love.’
Just when I had lost the will to sing, Your mercy became music to me;
an old song-

older than this tired earth-and yet, somehow,
as fresh and new as the morning.

It is not your will that any should perish,
but that all should repent and enter Your rest.

God is not silent with any of us. He doesn’t go unspoken. I’m convinced he goes unrecognized. His words are there, his wisdom is there, but we miss them because we are looking in the wrong places. Learning to listen to God is learning to rest and not strive, in growing confidence in his ability to communicate with me rather than my ability to discern him.


Sara and I left Denver yesterday on our travels and headed east. Next stop—Wichita over the weekend. A group of us are getting together on Saturday in Newton to celebrate God’s work in these perilous days. You’re welcome to join us.

After that, we will go through Kansas City on our way to the St. Louis area for the following weekend. We have nothing planned there yet, but we will have some personal connections if no one wants to offer a place to gather and meet others.

Then, we are headed down to Little Rock, Arkansas, to a farm where we will hang out for a weekend of conversation and discernment about God’s work in our day. Others have talked about joining us there from nearby states. If you want to, please email me for details.

He Loves Me – Chapters 2 and 3

Don’t let the demands of legalistic Christianity blind you to the incredible friendship that a Loving Father and his Son want to have with you.

The friendship Jesus shared with his disciples was the model for the relationship he extends to you. He wants to be the voice that steers you through every situation, the peace that sets your troubled heart at rest, and the power that holds you up in the storm. He wants to be closer than your dearest friend and more faithful than any other person you’ve ever known.

I know it sounds preposterous. How can mere humans enjoy such a friendship with the almighty God who created with a word all we see? Do I dare think he would know and care about the details of my life? Isn’t it presumptuous even to imagine that this God would take delight in me, even though I still struggle with the failures of my flesh?

It would be so if this were not his idea. He’s the one who offered to be your loving Father- sharing life with you in ways no earthly father ever could.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of He Loves Me

The next meeting of the He Loves Me Book Discussion will be this Saturday, September 9, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. We will be covering Chapters 2 and 3. Bring your questions and observations…
You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link.  The conversations are held and recorded on Zoom.
I am sorry that this is not a convenient time for those in Asia and Australia, but so far, we’ve had only one interested person from that part of the world. If there are more, please let me know, and we will hold a different conversation for that part of the world. 
If you can’t join us for the discussion, catch the conversation on the Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook. You can see a replay of our conversation about the Introduction and Chapter 1 here. 
Our RV Tour will take us to Golden Colorado next week if you’d like to join us for a Monday night evening conversation on September 11. You can find details here.

The Roads We Go Down

The ground Sara and I have traversed this year is extraordinarily beautiful, and I mean that in multiple ways. Not only are we learning more about Sara’s trauma and what freedom looks like for her, but we are also seeing things about God’s heart and freedom for lost hearts that are rocking our world. Some of it moves us even further outside the lines of the institutionalized Christianity we grew up in, but the depth of it seems far truer to scripture than the distorted interpretations performance-based Christianity gave us.

We’ve been sharing all that on the God Journey. We’ve talked about holding the agony and ecstasy of God for the pain and redemption of the world, how God’s view of sin may be very different from ours, and how redemption can make a way through the greatest cruelties in life. Following Jesus today is not easy, especially when the religious powers that be question your motives, dismiss what you’re learning about Jesus, or falsely accuse you to marginalize you. Jesus said we are blessed when people “insult you, lie about you, and exclude you because of him,” though we rarely feel blessed in such moments.

I got this email the other day from someone who has been listening—

I couldn’t believe it when you started this conversation.  For the past 15+ years that I have been listening to The God Journey, you have confirmed so many thoughts that I have had that would get me a reprimand from normal ‘church people.’   This week’s conversation with Sarah was more of that.”

A year ago, Sara and I took our Return to Innocence Tour from California to Virginia and back.  Since then, we’ve been finding and fixing up a home. We are just getting it to the point where we can enjoy it but sense that breath of the Spirit inviting us on yet another trip, this time into the heartland of the U.S.  So, next week, we’ll be leaving on another RV trip to enjoy time together as well as to see who Father might want to put in our path.

Last year, we talked a lot about our trauma story as we helped others with theirs. We will still do that anywhere on our journey where it would be helpful, but I think we’re going to call this our Swimming Upstream Tour. As beautiful as this journey is in learning to live loved, there is also a toll it takes on us, often from well-meaning family and friends who hold a more legalistic view of God. Knowing you’re not alone in that can be incredibly helpful.

We are looking to encourage some weary hearts on this journey and see what God is revealing to his children, especially those who are learning to live loved in a hostile world. The above map with approximate dates will give you an idea of where we are going to go on this trip. We already have some events planned in Wichita, Little Rock, and Austin, but we’re open to other opportunities that might bring people together or connect in other ways that may be helpful to you—grabbing a meal with us by the side of the road, going for an early morning walk, or sitting with us by a campfire to share this magnificent journey of following Jesus against the grain of religious sensibilities. As opportunities are updated, we’ll include that information on our Travel Schedule at Lifestream.org and on my Facebook Author Page.

So, if you are along our route somewhere and would like to hang out somewhere, please email me to see what we might be able to arrange. We can’t promise to do everything we are asked, and our schedule is going to be flexible, given how we are traveling, but we’ll pray alongside you and see what might be on Jesus’s heart. Don’t be bashful; often, the best connections come when people are a bit reticent to ask.

Learning a Life of Love

Why is it easier for us to believe that God doesn’t love us than to rest in the reality that he does?

And why are we more easily dragged into the obligation of religious performance than we are drawn into a growing trust in God’s love?

Both have much to do with the nature of darkness and how the enemy loves to lure us away from the intimacy God extends to us. We’ve all fallen for his traps, so you don’t need to be embarrassed when you are. In those times, remind yourself that you are his beloved and you don’t have the power to change yourself or resist sin without him, and then come and learn what it means to live loved by Jesus and his Father.

Last Sunday, we began our discussion of He Loves Me in the He Loves Me Book Club. You can watch our conversation about the first chapter here if you missed it. You can join the Facebook Group here if you want to stay in touch with future gatherings.

I wrote that book almost twenty-five years ago, and yet the things in there are the ones dearest to my heart. Here are some of the quotes that touched me in re-reading the Introduction and the first chapter:

What the Father showed us in the gift of his Son is that he was unwilling to settle for the indentured servitude of fearful slaves. He preferred instead the intimate affection of sons and daughters.

I hope you, too, come to the end of these pages convinced that he loves you with a deep and unrelenting affection.

For long after we’ve put away our daisies many of us continue to play the game with God. This time we don’t pluck flower petals, but probe through our circumstances trying to figure out exactly how God feels about us.

(With my religious background) I had become like the schizophrenic child of an abusive father, never certain what God I’d meet on any given day—the one who wanted to scoop me up in his arms with laughter, or the one who would ignore me or punish me for reasons I could never understand.

Many people carry scars and disappointments that can appear to be convincing evidence that the God of love might not exist or, if he does, maintains a safe distance from them and leaves them to the whim of other people’s sins.

When he seems to callously disregard our most noble prayers, our trust in him can be easily shattered and we wonder if he cares for us. We can even come up with a list of our own failures that can seemingly justify God’s indifference and beckon us into a dark whirlpool of self-loathing.

He does love you more deeply than you’ve ever imagined; he has done so throughout your entire life. Once you embrace that truth, your troubles will never again drive you to question God’s affection for you or whether you’ve done enough to merit it. Instead of fearing he has turned his back on you, you will be able to trust his love at the moments you need him most.

I would not have survived the events of the last two years without having learned how to live inside the affection of the Father. The most challenging circumstances I could imagine didn’t cause me to question his love. Instead, they only deepened my appreciation for his love as he skillfully guided me through them with his wisdom and courage. It wasn’t easy, and there were days I grieved deeply. Ultimately, however, I discovered that my pain doesn’t discount God’s love; it just gives me another environment to explore its vastness.

The first thing I want a new believer to know is how to recognize God’s love as he reveals it to them. Instead, we too often pour on the expectations for what a “good Christian” does or doesn’t do, and they become embedded in human effort without ever knowing how loved they are. How much would it have changed in the world if knowing Christ meant growing to trust his love, not trying to perform to earn his favor?

Many have found reading or re-reading He Loves Me or its companion devotional, Live Loved, Free, Full, to be incredibly helpful in building a life inside his love. I began this study to invite a new generation of people into the conversation of living loved.

Also, ten years ago, I recorded twenty-four short coaching videos to help people explore how God is connecting with them. We called it Engage. No, this is not a discipleship program. We called it an anti-discipleship strategy—this is not how you build a relationship with God; this is how to recognize him building one with you. They are 8-12 minutes in length, each containing a nugget of insight to help you explore how Jesus is revealing himself to you. You can listen to the first one here.

No matter what resource you find helpful, learning to live loved is what Jesus wants to teach you. Books and recordings can encourage us, but only he, by the power of his Spirit, can reveal his Father’s love to us at the core of our being. For his love is not primarily a principle to believe in; it is a reality in which he wants us to swim through the most difficult challenges we face.

Discover how to recognize his love and lean into it each day, and nothing will be able to win over you ever again.


Important Change for Blog Subscribers

If you have been subscribing to this blog via WordPress, we will soon be discontinuing that subscription base because of continuing problems with it. We are hoping to import your subscription into our Lifestream database so you can continue to be notified of new postings. However, if you don’t hear from us in a while, it may be because something glitched in that process.  To be sure, you can now sign up for subscriptions to this blog here. Include your address on this form if you want to get travel updates when Wayne is in the area.

Where Freedom Grows

For frequent God Journey listeners, you’ve heard Sara, Kyle, and me discuss the possibility that God may look at our sin quite differently than we do. Even mentioning the word ‘sin’ in a blog post is a risk since most people will tune out at the mere mention of the word. Especially in religious settings, the word itself conjures shame, failure, and impossible demands. Could this be that we don’t look at sin the way God does? I may have had this wrong my entire life.

I was taught that fallen humans are co-conspirators in sin, choosing evil over godliness and that our bad behaviors offend God, meriting his anger and vengeance. As the story goes, however, Jesus came to save us by taking our punishment on himself. So now, we can be forgiven of sin by the work of Jesus. At least, we assume that’s true when we “get saved,” but most traditions have us shifting to personal performance the very next day. So, most of us have wrestled against sin by our self-effort, having limited success and even more failure and increasing guilt. No wonder no one wants to hear about sin.

What if all of that is slightly off-kilter? What if God doesn’t see sin as something we chose but as something that happened to us? We were born into a fallen world with a self-preferring nature, and our shame made us feel abandoned by our Creator and thus unable to see him or trust him. That cannot be healed by guilt, condemnation, and better performance, but only through a love powerful enough to find us in our brokenness and walk us out with his grace.

What has opened the door to this way of thinking? It’s all Sara and I have learned in finding freedom from her trauma. The environment she needed to find healing from the horrible things that happened to her as a young child was the exact opposite of the religious climate we both grew up in. My old view of sin saw it as bad choices we make. We need to be confronted with our sin, confess it to God to be forgiven, be educated on right and wrong, and obey God by our strength of will. The problem with that is it doesn’t work. Even Paul said that he put “no confidence” in the flesh. Strength of will might carry you for an hour or two or even a few days, but eventually, temptation sidetracks us again. But now that we are supposed to “know better,” the guilt is multiplied exponentially. So, we have to go back to confessing and trying harder, and the cycle continues, all driven by the fear of God’s displeasure and judgment.

None of that would have worked with Sara’s trauma. The environment of God’s expectation and human effort strong enough to meet it would only have driven her deeper into the darkness without ever exposing its cause, which is why most traumatized people have walked away from religious settings. The tactics only make them feel like even worse failures.

Even though she had hurt me more than anyone by leaving the way she did, I never saw her trauma as “sin.” I never blamed her for it; she was way too young and had no agency to process what was happening to her. I wasn’t angry or offended at her, even at the things she did to me to survive the pain she was feeling. And even before I knew the cause, I only wanted her back. “Father, forgive her; she knows not what she does” was the easiest prayer to pray. This wasn’t her; it was darkness in her. I could live in forgiveness for her, even while her trauma was still hurting me. I just wanted to help her find the freedom she deserved. Whatever cost I had to pay was insignificant.

The way I treated Sara quite naturally fulfilled all the new covenant hopes for how God asks us to deal with the sins and offenses of others. Her environment for healing was to be embraced by love, even at the depth of her pain and darkness. I had to slow to her pace and offer her a safe and soothing environment. I was only trying to win her heart back, but in that space, she began to see what was true about herself, her past, her God, and even me. Some things were horribly painful; some were delightfully glorious, but there was no way to rush the process. I wasn’t focused on stopping her hurtful actions; I was only trying to connect with her at a heart level and be alongside her as God opened a path to healing. We have feasted on that process together ever since.

That’s what got me thinking that the way I saw Sara’s trauma is the way Father sees my sins. And if this is how he asks us to see brokenness in others, why wouldn’t it also be how he sees it in us? Wouldn’t that same process break the power of sin as well? As we’ve pondered these things, I have become aware that this is how God has been navigating my sins and brokenness over the past three decades as I learned to live loved. I hadn’t been on the performance treadmill, but I didn’t realize how much had been shaped in my life by the safe presence of Jesus and his Father.

Sara didn’t choose trauma; it captured her when she was too young and didn’t have a caregiver to entrust with her pain. Isn’t that like sin? We didn’t choose it; we were captured by it before we were even aware of it. And Paul said we were powerless in sin and blinded by shame to God’s presence with us.

Here’s how all of this has changed my perspective:

I no longer blame myself or others for their sin. It was never a choice but a disease.

I have given up the idea that I am a change agent for others. God has to reveal truth to them at their pace and I can be alongside them with encouragement and compassion while he does that.

We are truly powerless in sin until God untangles it from the inside.

Our sin does not define who we are; our true nature is seen where we are confident and relaxed in Father’s love.

The way to help someone grow is not through confrontation of sin, education of expectations, and accountability to help them perform better, but to be a safe place where people can know they are loved and that God is safe enough to unpack their darkest secrets.

I am increasingly trusting God to be the rescuer from everyone’s brokenness. He’s not looking to punish us for it but to untangle its hold on us.

This perspective gives me better words to navigate my darkness as well as to truly love those caught in sin while at the same time being able to help them find a path out of it in the growing confidence of the Father’s affection. And I don’t say any of this to diminish the destructive power of sin in our world or our personal well-being. Sin destroys us from the inside, diminishing our humanity and destroying meaningful relationships with others. This perspective shows us the path out—not by our performance but by your engagement with love and our willingness to see what’s true instead of seeking comfort in our illusions.

This could be crazy stuff, but I’m loving it, and it is shaping my heart in ways I never expected. I’m exploring this deep rabbit hole to see what might be valid about it and what Father might still want to adjust in my thinking. If you want to explore this more, Sara and I added another podcast this morning to the four we’ve already done on this topic, and I am grateful for the conversations I’m having with people pondering this with us. I love what Father seems to be revealing in all of it.

What if God doesn’t blame us for the darkness that takes hold of our lives? What if he knows that shame and performance will not bring us closer to him but drive us away? What if he knows that a safe, soothing relationship with him is not the reward of our salvation but where it begins? What if he always knew that self-effort would fail us and only a grace-filled relationship with him would rescue us from the darkness? What if he’s always seen us as the gift he created before darkness intruded on us?

Now that would be good news, really good news!


Don’t forget we are starting a Zoom book study this weekend, chapter-by-chapter, through He Loves Me. If you want to come with us, you can either join the Facebook Group or write me for a Zoom link. It will be at 1:30 pm Pacific Daylight Time this Sunday afternoon. For those who want to watch it live, we will also stream it on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page.

Also, if you are in Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, or New Mexico and have anything in mind as we take our RV on the road again, please let us know. Indeed, we can’t do everything we might be asked to do, but we’ll pray with you and see what Father might have in mind. We enjoy the conversations that happen with people like you on our journey.

The Conversations that Matter

Years ago, I heard a mission statement someone had crafted: “I want to have conversations that matter with people who care.”

When I heard it, I knew instantly that this was the part of my life I treasured most. Above any recreational pursuit, athletic competition, or entertainment option, what I enjoy most is having a conversation that makes a difference in my life or someone else’s because we care about finding our way into Jesus’s fullness. Of course, that is most meaningful when it happens with Sara, my children or grandchildren, other family, and close friends.

But Jesus has also allowed us to have thousands of conversations like this with people worldwide. Many of those have become close friends with repeated opportunities to grow our friendship. That’s why I enjoy doing the podcast and interacting with those who listen, helping them further the conversation with their friends and family. Rich conversations are the treasures that transmit the kingdom.

I read something the other day that helped me see some ingredients that help conversations matter. A psychologist writing about emotionally abusive people said they are incapable of engaging in “mutually respectful relationships that require consideration, empathy, compassion, and kindness.” I find that so incredibly sad because the relationships that allow God’s grace to unfold require those exact things—mutual respect (especially where people don’t see things the same way) as well as consideration, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Those attributes open the kind of dialogue that sets us at ease even in our struggles, helps unravel pain, and allows his truth access to our hearts.

I’ve always got my eye out for conversations that open doors in people’s hearts. I find them everywhere—in our neighborhood, with a worker at our home, phone calls, and gatherings. I pursue them with people God connects me with and intentionally take to time to let relationships grow.

Sara and I will leave California on our second RV trip in two weeks. We’ll go first to Denver to visit our son and then head east, though not so nearly as far as last time. Our itinerary is still flexible, though we are headed to some planned events near Little Rock, Arkansas, and Austin, TX. There’s plenty of room to add other conversations around that as we travel.

We’re doing it pretty much like last time—going where the Spirit seems to lead and staying as long as we need to. Here’s a rough framework, however, of what that could look like:

  • Denver, CO – September 7-13
  • Wichita, KS – September 15-17
  • Kansas City – September 18-20
  • Belleville, IL – September 21-24
  • Little Rock, AR – September 29 – October 1
  • Austin, TX – October 6-8
  • San Antonio, TX – October 11-14

Then, we head home, possibly back up to I-40 through Dallas or Lubbock. We’re not sure yet. But we will go through Albuquerque and Flagstaff on the way home.

So, if you’re along this route and have some people who would like to connect with us, please contact me through email. Then, let’s trust that if God wants us to be together on this trip, he will arrange our schedules accordingly. What will we talk about? Whatever you want to. We no longer set the agenda but wait to see what will most help their journey. Themes from my books and podcasts almost always come up, but that’s a wide range of subject matter:

  • Living loved
  • Dealing with trauma
  • God’s view of sin
  • Finding community
  • The Jesus Lens (a freeing and meaningful engagement with Scripture)
  • Recognizing the Spirit’s nudges
  • Growing trust, and
  • Compassionate and humble engagement with the world

Sometimes, we’ll cover a bunch of those in the same conversation.

And we meet almost anywhere—in homes, parks, restaurants, or by the campfire next to our RV.

Please don’t hesitate to email me if something is on your heart. We may not be able to work everything in, but we will see how the Spirit leads. As a fun aside for this trip, we plan to visit some of the Presidential Libraries along our route. Let us know if you want to join us for one of those. And, yes, we will have plenty of alone time for God’s work to continue unfolding in our journey.

After finishing the Jake Colsen Fan Club, several people asked if we could do one through He Loves Me. Now would be an excellent time to begin, so beginning next Sunday, August 27, we’re going to initiate the He Loves Me Book Club for those who want to go through a chapter-by-chapter focus on the themes in that book. It’s always tricky with an audience as spread out around the world as this one to find a time that will work for everyone. We are going to start at 1:30 pm PDT and work from there. I know it is late in Europe and early in Asia and Australia, but if we have enough interest from both, we may have two different sessions, so one will be in the evening in Europe and late morning in the East.

We will coordinate this book club through a Facebook Group that you are welcome to join. We will continue the discussion there as well as post the Zoom links. If you’re not part of Facebook and want me to send you the link, please email me here.

As I said, there is nothing more compelling than conversations that matter with people who care. Here are some ways to connect with us, but I hope you’re finding meaningful conversations in your own relationships.


Responsible to Obey, or Free to Love?

In an email exchange with a friend, he made this observation:

“If there are no other species out there (in the universe) unless created by Father, we are responsible to obey him. That’s our responsibility. He will bring the end of the age in his time.”

Reading it, I felt a ping in my yuck meter.

“…Responsible to obey him.” There was a time when I’d have felt comfortable with those words, but no longer. He was a good enough friend to push back playfully:

I agree on all points, though I’d substitute “a love to embrace” for “a responsibility to obey. Love will always lead us to obedience but obedience does not always lead us to love. That’s how I see the new covenant.   

He simply wrote back, “Full agreement here.”

So how do you see your relationship with God today? Do you consider it your responsibility to obey him or your joy to embrace his love?

The Old Testament seems to confront us with the need to obey God because we are afraid of him. That’s our responsibility, or so we thought. However, laced throughout the Old Testament is also the language of lovingkindness and mercy. And the writer of Hebrews tells us they couldn’t enter God’s rest, not because of their disobedience, but because of their unbelief. They didn’t trust his love and goodness, and not believing in him, they continued to look to false gods and foreign powers to comfort them.

Jesus underscored the power of his Father’s love when he was here. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” You could read that under the eyes of the Old Testament to mean that keeping commands proves that we love him. But the whole mission of Jesus proves otherwise. He meant, “If you discover the depth of my love, you will find yourself following me to the ends of the earth.”

That’s what I’ve discovered to be true. Those who seek to follow Jesus focused on fear and obedience are not always pleasant people to be around. They are often frustrated and angry, just like the Pharisees were. Thinking their relationship with God is secured by their performance, they are exhausted by their efforts and frustrated at the lack of results. Moreover, they push their frustration onto others by judging their misdeeds and trespassing on their lives by telling others what they should do.

Thinking our responsibility is to obey him draws us right back under the law, and it will kill us. According to the writer of Hebrews, that’s why Israel couldn’t enter God’s rest—not because of a lack of obedience but because of their unbelief. They didn’t believe he was wholly good and that he loved them even in their darkness. If they had, he would have filled up in their hearts what sin seeks to fill.

Jesus has offered us a better way. Come live in his love, grow to trust him, and you’ll find yourself following him with great joy and freedom.

And that’s the obedience that matters.


If you need some help exploring this shift in thinking, Wayne wrote He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection to do just that.



Triumph Out of Tragedy


Mark is a former pastor before his addiction caught up to him. He’s been writing me from the Portland area for a few years. I want you to hear how Jesus has taken a shipwrecked life and shaped it into a treasure others can be touched by.

I’ll let him tell his story in his own words, taken from recent emails.

Guess which sentence opens doors and which one shuts them:

“Hello, I am Mark, pastor of the Assembly of God Church.”

“Hello, I am Mark, a divorced, former minister who has been in a twelve-step recovery program for 30 years.”

God is not against sin because he is so holy, just, and perfect, and the thought of our selfish imperfection drives him to judgment, destroying and blasting sinners from his path. God hates sin because it destroys his beloved creation.

He has reached out in love through his son Jesus to let the world know he can help us with our sin. He can take our imperfections and the trauma others have visited upon us and turn them, through the redemptive work of his Son on the cross, into something incredibly beautiful.

My greatest shame and defeat, which destroyed my professional career as well as my marriage, Jesus turned into a tool to help many others find hope, healing, and sobriety.

Recovery never stops. My insane thinking colors every aspect of my life, even today. But it’s okay to be this way. I have tools now that help me still the “chattering monkeys” and live as well as respond to life in a healthy manner. To be able to give and receive love, feeling it on the inside. I still attend weekly meetings. And make phone calls.

We end every AA meeting with a question. “Who keeps us sober?” And we respond in unison, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done… “

Today I am a rideshare driver with 215,000 miles and 12,000 rides behind me. There are more stories to hear, prayers to be offered, and refuge to provide—all from a simple driving job that did not even exist just a few years ago.

Other than that, I spend my days enjoying my wife, writing stories, mad scientist gardening, attending meetings, cribbage games, sponsoring addicts, phone calls with friends and family. Plus, I will be performing a wedding shortly for some folks my wife and I just met.

Life is full and mostly pleasant.

What I love about God’s work in Mark is that it has grounded him in a normal life that makes space for Jesus to touch others through him. He has sent me many stories from his rideshare driving of being a voice of hope to desperate people—those who are suicidal or rushing to a hospital after someone else has ended her life. It’s why he takes the late night shifts on weekends in case someone needs a friend. It’s also where he uses the second introduction from his options above.

Everyone’s life doesn’t need to look like Mark’s, but each of us can find our growing health in him and simply be aware of people to love and words to say that will impart grace to others. This is how to live a significant life.

Finally Home

He is finally home.

If you’ve read my books and listened to the podcast, you know the impact my dad had on my life and faith. Last Saturday morning, at 98 years of age, my dad passed from life in this age to life in the full-on splendor of Jesus,  something he has been longing for as he has outlived almost everyone from his generation. I’m so grateful he no longer suffers from his declining health and is now at rest in the love of Jesus and reunited with his wife, his eldest son, and others from his nearly century-long journey.

The damage a dysfunctional family can do to a young life is incredible. I deal with many people who grew up in families filled with anger, abuse, or an absence of love. I am not among them. I grew up in a family where Mom and Dad loved each other and their four boys. We had lots of friends and enjoyed hosting parties at the ranch. My life was filled with laughter, support, and the example of growing faith in Jesus. For that, I will always be grateful.

Dad with our newest dog Zoey in 2016

I’ve often said that my dad was not only the father of my flesh but also my faith. I learned so much from him and had so many illuminating conversations with a man I will always admire and appreciate. My dad was many things—a World War II vet, wounded on the front in the north of France, the owner of a vineyard who sun-dried grapes into raisins, a compassionate husband, a rock-steady father to four boys, a scoutmaster, a congregational leader (multiple times), house church facilitator, and most of all a passionate follower of Jesus. He gave his life away to any who sought his help and wisdom and touched many with both. I get emails regularly from people that were enriched because they knew him.

He was a nominal Baptist in my younger days, but in the early 1960s, he decided to find out if God was real or give up playing the religious game. That sent him on a lifelong journey of deepening faith and service to others. I served with him on an eldering team once, and one of my friends from that team perhaps summed up his life best. “He doesn’t talk much, but you have got to listen when he does.”

Here are a few of the things I consider a legacy from my relationship with my dad, even more by his example of life than his words:

  • Follow Jesus no matter what, even when it costs you relationships you value or when others gossip about you to discredit you.
  • God is big enough to walk you through anything, no matter how dire it might look. He said that to me in my youth, watching one of his raisin crops destroyed by a deluge of rain. The money he would have received for that harvest was his sole source of income, and yet God took care of us anyway.
  • Be generous with others; you are part of a larger community than just your needs or desires.
  • Keep your heart grounded in the Scriptures, which can be a constant source of encouragement and wisdom.
  • Truth matters. If you let your fears steer you into believing a lie, it will destroy even the most precious relationships replacing love and affection with anger and hate.

For those that didn’t know my dad, I wrote two tributes to my relationship with him back in 2004 when my son and I took him to Washington, DC, for the first time in his life. We were there to attend the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the Mall and enjoy the sights of the city. It was the trip of a lifetime that I will always cherish with both of them. We laughed hard and celebrated with gratefulness my dad’s service to his country. You can read those blogs here:

In 2012, I interviewed my dad on The God Journey in an episode called A Journey of Growing Trust.

Having completed his journey here, he is now on to the most significant part of our human experience—where perfect love reigns, and relationships never die. I would love to know what he knows now. We look through a glass darkly, but one day we will be face to face with Jesus, as he is today. I can’t wait to sit down with him again and see our journeys in the full light of his glory.

Thank you, Dad, for being a part of my life as long as you could. Thanks for all the wisdom and character you imparted to me over nearly seven decades. Thanks for loving my family and helping us in so many ways. And thanks for enriching so many other lives as you traversed this temporal land.

A friend sent me a prayer this weekend that on the day I die, Jesus would send my dad to get me or at least come with him. I don’t know if God answers such prayers, but I know we will sit down for a long talk again someday. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that.

One of my last walks with Dad in 2021 at Shaver Lake