The First Moment of Freedom

Sara and I are reading through my new devotional each day.  Yes, it is a bit weird reading my own book and even stranger to be touched by it and freshly encouraged to draw into that space that makes my life more fruitful.

This one especially touched my heart the other day.

April 15 – The First Moment of Freedom

Some have labored for months or years under the oppressive burden of trying to earn God’s approval, trying to please abusive leadership or failing the expectations others have held for them.

The moment God’s love works its way past all those things and captures them in his sheer delight is a moment that knows no equal in creation.

Once people discover just how much he loves them, and that love is motive enough to allow God to do everything in their life that he wants to accomplish, you can see the weight lift from their shoulders. You can see in their eyes the renewed hope of enjoying again their relationship with Father.

Sometimes it is an immediate realization, at others a slow awakening until that wonderful moment when the penny drops.

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.
Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives…

2 Corinthians 3:1–3 (MSG)

I’ve tasted of this many times in my own journey when some new glimpse of him opens a wider door in my heart. I’ve also been graced to be with quite a few people at the very moment some broken place in their life or thinking gives way to the recognition that they are loved no matter what. It’s a moment! I love being in those moments with people, but I am also increasingly aware that I cannot orchestrate them in my time frame, and neither can they.

This is the work of his Spirit, who is constantly arranging things in our heart to give us such a moment. It’s so easy to unwittingly resist that work as we drill down in our guilt or press ourselves to try harder or do more. All we can do is tell him that we desire that revelation in ourselves or in someone we’re with and leave our hearts as open as possible so we can see what the Spirit is doing to bring God alive in us.

If you’re struggling in one of those seasons where his love seems distant, I am praying for you even as I’m writing this. God wants you to have such freedom even more than you want it for yourself. I know it doesn’t feel like that sometimes, but it is still true. Ask him to help you relax into that reality and let his Spirit sort it out in you.

 


The excerpt is taken from Live Loved Free Full, my new devotional that gives you a thought every day to help invite your heart and mind into more relational space where you can see better how he is at work in you.   You can order your copy here, or view a video about it here.

It’s Time!

The last few months have been a strange time for me. As I was working on the new My Friend Luis podcast, I kept getting insight from the Spirit, signaling there was something ahead he wanted me to be ready for. These insights came in nudges from within, dreams and visions from other people, and specific Scripture passages that would leap off the page into my heart when I was reading. While these inklings were encouraging, they were far from specific. However, the inspiration within and the growth curve it has sent me on is nothing like I’ve experienced before.  I’ve shared some of that on my podcast, especially some insights about prayer that are reshaping my life in so many ways. It started with the Embracing His Glory insights and has continued on about praying with a different perspective and with others that feels like a jig-saw puzzle fitting together.

Last week Sara and I were in the Sierra Mountains with my 95-year-old Dad to celebrate Easter. Earlier that week, my daughter and grandkids came up for a few days, and we took a walk through the burn scar of the Creek wildfire. Over the next few days, I had this nagging thought in my heart that there was something God wanted me to see there, that I had missed. I talk more about that in a video on my Facebook page that I posted yesterday. It was recorded on Good Friday as I re-visited that area to share with you what I felt God was speaking to my heart.  If you missed that video, you could view it here.

I talk more about this experience in the podcast that will air this Friday morning at The God Journey, called “Settled in His Spirit.”  Kyle and I talk about it in the first 12 minutes or so. Simply, as I contemplated what I had seen in the aftermath of the wildfire, my heart was drawn to Romans 8:18-21:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

As I was thinking of this passage on my walk in the woods with my dog, Zoey, I was surprisingly surrounded by a rising sense of Presence.  Then, I heard two words in my mind: “It’s time.”  I knew instantly that the voice was referring to this passage. It is time for the children of God to be revealed. My body literally quaked. I’m not sure what all this means, but I am confident something is stirring. Every person I’ve shared this moment with sense has either already had something similar on the heart or felt affirmation when they heard it.

I’m not offering this as some kind of prophecy. I don’t know that it has any end-of-the-world overtones to it. But I do sense the undercurrent of those who have been learning to live at rest in his love over the past few years will soon become more evident than the religious voices that so easily disfigure the face of God to the world around us. Now, I’m not looking for that to change in the media or Christianity Today to do a story on it because I don’t think this is about new books, markets, and viral internet posts, but simply a stitching together of people loving selflessly those who cross their paths. God will make himself more evident to others, and we’ll see that over the next few months and years.

I honestly know nothing more than that, but my heart has an expectancy about God’s work in our world that it hasn’t had in a while.  I feel no angst to make anything happen or think some book or project from me will turn some tide here. As things begin to unfold, the usual suspects will try to market it for their own gain or try to systematize it to put it under their control. I can tell you now, avoid such people and such activities.

This is a work of the Spirit that will have the breath of Father in it. It won’t be in our control, though we can yield to his flow when we sense it. What is most important now is to keep learning what it means for you to be at rest in his love and to learn how he wants to play with you in the Father’s working. This rises out of that reality, not the somber, terrifying tones of human effort.  All he asks of us is to present a willing heart, to keep our eye on him, and to be ready when he nudges us into the next opportunity.  That will involve some prayer and watching, but the fun kind, not the laborious kind.

And for those who are touched by what I share in the video, or you have questions about it, Kyle and I will be hosting a God Journey After-Show this coming Sunday at 10:00 am Pacific Daylight Time. If you want to join us, email me for a Zoom link to that session. We’ll let in as many as we think we can manage, but it will also stream live on The God Journey Facebook Page for those who want to watch.

Please hear my heart here. I sense something stirring and am just putting it out there to see if others have similar insights. If God is in this, let’s see what he unfolds over the next few months and years.

_______________________________

As a side note, during our time at Shaver Lake, a local radio station played an interview recorded with my dad a few weeks before about his experiences in World War II. You can find it here, along with photos from that era. 

 

 

Father’s Fingerprints

I’ve not been posting much here or anywhere else lately because most of my time these days is spent talking to people and stitching together My Friend Luis. For those of you who have missed this, it is a new, twelve-episode, story-telling podcast of one of my closest friends and how God has worked in his heart, and the friendship we share. I have two more episodes to finish up on my end. For you, episode six dropped today.  It has touched me deeply, and I am blessed by everyone who has written me about this story and how it has touched them too.  I’m so glad I could share it in this way.

Episode six completes the story that began in Episode One, the night Luis, as a twenty-one-year-old kid, tried to cross the border from Tijuana into the United States. This is the pay-off, and there’s so much that happens that night that has Father’s fingers all over it. It’s one of the best stories I’ve ever heard of God winning someone into his love. I don’t want you to miss it.

There’s a lot of that in this story, as it’s often easier to see looking back over a long story. My friend, Bob Prater, spends a lot of his days listening to people’s stories. He invites people out to breakfast or lunch with him, many he’s just meeting for the first time.  When they sit down, he often asks them, “Tell me your story, and don’t leave anything out.”  What a gift!

How many people are dying to tell their story to someone who will listen and care, and how rarely do they get the chance with someone who is not rushed?

I asked him one time what he’s looking for as they share. “I look for God’s fingerprints on their story, even if they haven’t recognized them yet.  I liked to connect the dots.”

Some of the emails I’ve received from those of you already listening to My Friend Luis are how his story helps you connect the dots in your own story.  I love that. There’s never been a moment in your life where God was not making himself known to you in ways that invite you into his love. Often we miss those moments because we are distracted by the world or our own guilt or pain. It’s so easy to ignore his approach or write off those serendipitous moments as mere coincidence.  It often takes the compassionate eye of someone else to help us see the thread of God’s love stitched into our lives.

But it is there, whether you see it yet or not. I pray we all come to see more clearly his fingerprints, not only in Luis’ story but, even more importantly, in your own. Once you begin to see that, anything can happen.

My Friend Luis can be found at most places you get your podcasts, or you can listen to it directly from the website.

My Friend Luis Episode 3

Episode 3 of My Friend Luis dropped this morning. This is one of my favorite episodes of the story of the friendship Luis and I have shared, and it sets up a lot that’s still to come. One incredible story told over twelve episodes in an immersive format. What it shows about God and his ability to walk with us, even when we’re unaware at times, makes this story so compelling.

Here’s what some people have written me about My Friend Luis.

“It was a real treat to hear the first episode of My Friend Louis. We listened like we were in a movie. We were both disappointed to actually reach our destination before it ended. We wanted to keep it going. You guys did a fantastic job with this.” — Jeff

“You cannot listen to his story without being impacted on how unfair the world is and how lucky some of us are.” —Dwight

“Loved this!!! Can’t wait to hear the next one!” — Harvey

“I heard two voices in my head while I was listening. The first voice said: “It’s his own fault, he tried to come here illegally and suffered the consequences. This is the voice I used to believe was God’s (standing up for justice). The second voice said: “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased and love dearly.”  This is the voice I now know is Father’s and the voice of grace, which his true justice. I can’t wait for the rest of the story and see God unfolding through it!” — Isaac

“I am just captivated by this story! Now I think I see why Wayne was excited about 2021… This is much more than a podcast! I’m sending the website link to friends and family.” — Jack

“Oh, love it!  It’s going to be a great story … Planning on listening with my sisters. Didn’t realize it was going to be so professionally done!”  — Jaq

“I am so looking forward to hearing his whole story! Maybe people would have different perspectives, hearing the life of someone who comes from a country where there’s a lot of corruption and seems like surviving is a daily struggle! Wayne, so glad you’re sharing Luis’s story with us.”  — Nellie

You can listen to My Friend Luis on the website, or subscribe from your favorite podcast feed.

For Your Consideration

First an announcement…

I love hearing from so many of you how Live Loved Free Full is helping encourage your journey. Thanks for letting me know. Blue Sheep Media is providing quantity discounts for those who want extra copies to give to others. You can get ten copies for $150.00 or twenty copies for $300.00. You can order here. Also, anything you can do to help get the word out about this book on social media—posting favorite quotes, your own recommendation, or even linking to the trailer, helps more than you know.  You’re welcome to send (or post) a photo of a particularly meaningful entry to a friend, which is a great way to give the message away. I’m also willing to do interviews with podcasters or Zoom in to a meet-the-author session with people you think might be interested. Just contact me.

And now something for your consideration…

Many of you know that for the past 13 years we have worked with some people in the upper reaches of Kenya to help them in a brutal time of need. Part of that included working with four tribes who were dying of disease and starvation due to a prolonged drought among some nomadic tribal people who could no longer sustain their way of life. Over five years we helped them get water, food, medicine, education, hygiene, and build a sustainable economy. We brought that project in for a successful landing last summer with gratitude in our hearts for those of you who gave so much to help them.  We also left our friends in Kitale with three money-generating enterprises to help with future needs.

Now, two smaller tribes have come into the area who are in the same condition as when we first connected with the other tribes in North Pokot. Men, women and children are starving without any access to food. No government program or NGOs are offering to help. Though we feel we have done what Father asked us to do in that region, our hearts are still touched by the need in these two villages, Namorui and Kase.  So, I’m wondering if there is an individual or any group of people who read this blog and feel a tug on your heart to invest your heart and soul to help these people find food for the moment and a future of hope. We drilled two wells for them this past fall, but they need food relief immediately and they want to begin an agricultural enterprise like we did for the other tribes.  $16,800 is needed for food relief over the next six months and it would take another $50,000 to build agricultural projects near their two wells.

These new tribes have already been introduced to Jesus through the coaches we had working with the other tribes in the area.  The photo above was taken this weekend as they are praying for God to provide food for them. They have nothing. If you want to be part of something that is life-changing for people on the other side of the world, please contact me.

A Chronological List of Wayne Jacobsen’s Books

I get asked quite often for a chronological list of the books I’ve written.  I figured it was time to put it in a place I could refer to easily and that search engines might pick up when people are looking for this information.

Looking over the list makes me profoundly grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to put some of my thoughts in writing. I’m grateful that God has allowed me to be a part of each of these projects, for the people I worked with on them, and for the people who found them helpful in their own journeys.  I don’t see myself primarily as a writer; I see myself as a teacher-companion, helping people find themselves at home in the Father’s heart.

I read Psalm 84 this morning, and a phrase jumped off the page at me:

“And how blessed are those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel.” (v. 5, The Message)

As much as I want my life to be a road that Jesus travels, I want yours to be that as well. It certainly isn’t about doing everything right or having every circumstance work out perfectly. It simply means providing a place for him to travel with us—drawing us into the orbit of his love, showing us the mysteries of who he is and how he thinks, transforming what self has twisted, and winning us out of the lies that diminish me and hurt others.  There is no greater adventure.

So, here’s the list.

Chronological List of Wayne’s Titles 

 

What About Ananias and Sapphira?

The trajectory of Scripture takes humanity from seeing the Creator of heaven and earth as an angry, demanding deity to encountering him as a loving Father who seeks to rescue his children from the ravages of sin and shame. Knowing that will help you work through those moments in Scripture that have often been preached as if God is vindictive.

I get this question a lot from people who read He Loves Me, or even Live Loved Free Full. The latest came a couple of weeks ago:

Wayne, how do you handle people who say God is still angry and to be feared in the  New Testament. What about the story of Ananias and Sapphira facing swift judgment in the New Testament in the time of the New Commandment? (Acts 5:1-10)

My response:  

To answer your question, I think we make too much of an angry “Old Testament” God.  The overwhelming theme of the Old Testament is that God is gracious and “slow to anger,” “his lovingkindness is better than life” and “his love endures forever.”  That’s the message. When God is depicted as angry and vengeful by the OT writers, I suspect they were projecting their shame on God’s activity and interpret it as anger.

How do I know that?  Because Jesus was the exact representation of God’s nature, and he didn’t come among us as an angry, offended deity.  He came to love, to forgive, to heal, and to set free. That’s not to say he didn’t have those moments when he is also correcting some injustice, but we still tend to put more anger to his sternness than was likely there.

Even when Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16) is crushed, many see that as an angry God who lost control, rather than the surgical removal of a rebellious influence in the camp that would lead Israel astray if left unchecked.  Through Christ, I tend to see God that way now, not as an angry deity striking out against those who displease him, but a surgeon having to take extraordinary measures to keep the story of redemption alive in a fallen world.

And to the specific New Testament story you ask about, I don’t detect anger at Ananias and Sapphira in that account. For those who don’t know the story, this husband and wife claimed they sold some property and were giving all of the proceeds to help others. The truth, however, was that they kept some for themselves and when they presented their offering to Peter he told them that in doing so they had lied to the Holy Spirit, not just their brothers and sisters.  They were trying to buy spiritual status with money. God’s resolution for that was to end their lives and bring them home. I don’t think that mistake meant they lost their salvation or that he was punishing them, but simply that their influence among the early church would be more detrimental than helpful. This is a unique situation, of course, that we don’t see repeated. So it wasn’t just a matter of being deceptive, or so many more people would be dying today. Something else was going on that isn’t fully explained in the text. Of course, fear spread after that, but fear may not have been the response God wanted. We cannot be perfected in fear, but only in love. (I John 4:20)

In Jesus’s day, the Pharisees thought God far angrier and punitive than they found in Christ, which is why they rejected him as the Son of God. Those who see God as vengeful work hard to keep him at bay but never discover the transforming power of his love that sets us free to walk righteously without fear. Scripture takes us on that journey, from the Creation of the world until it is all summed up at the end of this age. In that story, we discover that God is not the angry deity that needs to be appeased by our good behavior. In many ways, that’s the story I grew up with, and I now believe it was a bit off the mark.  Shame-based people saw him that way in the Old Testament, but God sets that to the right in the New so that we no longer have to be afraid of him but can rest in his love. He has always been the gracious Father inviting his wayward children home to his love and care even when we couldn’t see it.

I know when I write like this people ask, “What about those who use the idea of a loving God to live wayward and indulgent lives?”  To them, love is only a concept, not a reality. Those who know him will want to be like him. If there’s no desire to be like him, I doubt they have ever experienced his love.  Real love will change us far more than any fear of him ever could.

______________________

Some notes of interest:

  • If you want help exploring this redemption story in the Scriptures, I have lots of resources to help people engage the Scriptures through the revelation of Jesus. It helps us understand the story in the way it was intended for us.
  • My new book Live Loved Free Full can help your mind bathe in these realities every day. The emails I get from people reading it warm my heart. It seems to be doing what I hoped it would do in the world.
  • And, if you haven’t started listening to My Friend Luis, give it a try. It is a great story of redemption in the most desperate of circumstances.

My Advice for New Authors

I often get asked by newer writers about finding a publisher or an agent that will consider their work. I don’t have a lot to help them with there. I’ve never used an agent and find publishing companies too committed to the bottom line to publish the kinds of things I want to write.  Often I want to refer them to this article that I wrote shortly after I helped write and publish The Shack and have a difficult time finding it on the web. So, I want to reprint it here, so I can send the link to people who ask me these questions. If you’re not interested in writing, please feel free to skip the rest of this.

I understand the frustrations and concerns of writers and artists looking to publish their work. The publishing industry is in great flux right now, and it is harder than ever for a new writer to attract their attention.  Many publishers require agents, and most of them will only ask how big your platform is. If your platform is big enough to interest an agent, it is also big enough to publish your own work.  Fortunately, we are in a transition that has allowed the Internet to become the acquisitions editor for the publishing industry. Never before have writers had such options to inexpensively put their ideas before the public and let their audience grow organically. If you can’t find an audience for your passions and content on the web, a publisher will not be able to find it for you.

So let me encourage you to move ahead on your own.  Don’t wait for a publisher. Hopefully, The Shack demonstrated that just about anyone can put a book out there in this viral world, and it will find its audience in time.  Today, especially with new authors, the author sells their own works through the contacts God has given them and the range of their own influence.  We can help in that process, but we cannot be a substitute for it.  Books sales and reputations best grow organically, rather than through the artificial hype of press releases and interviews.

If you are going to self-publish, you may also want to see this article about The Nine Fatal Mistakes of Self-Publishing.  Here are some other things to consider as well.

First, as to the writing process, follow your inner critic. Don’t stop working on a piece until it is something you would be excited to read.  Read Simple and Direct, a great book on writing style, and let that shape your style.  Books sell well because of two realities—compelling content and an engaging style.   That can be done with humor, if it’s your gift, or by telling powerful, honest stories as a way to connect with others.

One thing we’re finding is that people love a story far more than they love a teaching book.  My So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore book outsells He Loves Me even though I consider the latter the most significant book I’ll ever write. Why?  Because it is a story. People are engaged with stories that straight teaching doesn’t tap.  I’ve begun to seriously wonder if the best way to do a teaching book is to tell it as an autobiographical story, not just what I believe, but the roads that took me there. That way, it can be told more horizontally than sounding like it comes from a pulpit. Stories engage people, and they are pretty much tuned out to ‘teaching.’

Second, as to the editing process, pass your work out to your friends. Ask them to be honest and give their gut-level opinion. Demand it of them. Most will be nice and want to be encouraging.  Tell them you’d like to know what they loved and what they didn’t like about the book. Rewrite and reshape the book to capture the reader’s interest on page one and carry them through your entire book.

Third, when you find people you know resonating with what you write, then you’re ready to post some things online to see if other readers find it helpful and if they want to pass it on to their friends. Post a few chapters online at a website whose URL has a catchy link to you or your book title. Put up some sample chapters and see if it catches a following.  You can do snippets of it as a blog or even put the whole thing on as I have done. This is the best way for anyone to begin a writing project. It involves others in what you’re doing.  It begins to build an audience of interested readers, and people can pass it along to others easily.

Fourth, if there’s a growing demand, you can publish it in book form on your own. The most important factor here is to have a compelling, contemporary book cover designed by a professional.  People who don’t know you will not read a book that looks like it was produced in a garage. It needs to look like a real book. Then, depending on interest and financial realities, you can print your own copies or use a Publish-On-Demand (POD) service. There are many out there. Amazon has a POD service that will also get you listed on their site.  You won’t make much per copy, but it will get your book out there.

Then if you begin to sell a significant amount, you’ll want to print your own copies when you can afford to print at least 1500 at a time. However, before you do that, you should have a reasonable expectation that you can sell those in about two years. Be careful. Many authors tend to be too optimistic here. Ninety percent of self-published titles do not sell more than 200 copies. So please be realistic here. But if you think you have the connections to sell 1500 books, you should, depending on the length, be able to print them for $1.50 to $2.25 per book if they are paperback. Obviously, the return on a $12-$14 book is substantial. You only have to sell a tenth of them to break even. You can sell them from a website and handle transactions with PayPal.

You can also join Amazon Advantage as a small publisher and have your books available on Amazon.com. Now you’re ready for the book’s readership to grow organically, which in our view is a far better way to grow than the artificial audience generated by publicity and media.

Finally, as your audience grows, you may want a publisher that can take it to the next level and save you all that time packing envelopes and printing books.  Believe me, publishers are not reticent about contacting authors of self-published titles to help them with distribution. Just realize you will be giving up a lot of income for them to do that, and you will want to ensure that they will actually grow the audience and not just take the income off of your book.

Many people are writing and publishing books today, and it may seem impossible to separate yours from the rest of the herd. You can spend ridiculous amounts of money if you want to pay people who will do publicity or advertising to put your book out there, but that alone won’t make it successful. The best thing you can do is get the book right—something people will want to read who do not know you and who will want to recommend it to their friends.

In the end, though, you have to trust that if God has given you something to say to the world, he knows how to get it to the audience he wants it to touch. Ask him. Follow what he shows you and enjoy the audience he gives you, whether it is five hundred people, five thousand, or five million.

I Wrote This for You

Last week in the high Sierras I recorded a short video on why I wrote Live Loved Free Full. You can view it here:   https://vimeo.com/513869403.

 

We’ve had a tough roll-out on this book, with production delays and then internal problems at Amazon that showed our book wasn’t available even though they had copies.  Fortunately, all that has worked out now and this little book is finding its way into the world. I’ve been touched by so many who have written me to tell me how much they appreciate these daily thoughts, and many sending their favorite quotes from the book. Some of you are even in July already, unable to stop after just one bite.  I love that.

If you’re enjoying the book, I’d appreciate it if you would help us get the word out to others.  Some take screenshots of a favorite paragraph or page and send it to someone they think it might encourage. Quote a paragraph or recommend it on Facebook, Instagram, TicTok to Twitter. You can share the video above on your social feed or with your friends. The link is:  https://vimeo.com/513869403

Many of you have written reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.  That’s incredibly helpful and I appreciate your gracious words there.

I hope you get a chance to view the video, and if that was too short for you, we also have a longer version (7 minutes) here: https://vimeo.com/513869671

My prayer is the this will help you settle your heart each day in Father has in mind for you, rather than letting the world’s demands or your own anxieties define the day. Learning to live loved, free, and full is a lifetime adventure and I hope this provides some helpful encouragement along the way.

If you don’t have your copy yet, you can order Live Loved Free Full here.  E-book versions are also available at your favorite distributor

My Friend Luis Debut

I want to introduce you to My Friend Luis. He’s a close friend of mine, and we share our story in a new, immersive, story-telling podcast that launches today. Episode One premiered last Friday on my podcast at The God Journey and debuts this morning on its own website.

I’ve heard many amazing stories in my life and been part of some amazing ones myself. This one was worthy of putting into a limited-series podcast that will play out over the next twelve weeks. It unfolds God’s glory in so many ways. I can’t wait for you to hear it. New episodes will drop on Tuesday mornings. You can view the trailer here.

My Friend Luis celebrates an extraordinary life and the unlikely friendship that developed between a law-and-order Republican and an undocumented immigrant living in California.

Born into abuse and poverty in Mexico, Luis survives through insurmountable odds. Through a series of almost unbelievable encounters, Luis navigates a pathway beyond his circumstances with an undeniable hunger to make a better life for himself than he knew as a child. In the course of that journey, he comes face-to-face with the God who had been pursuing him all his days.

As the son of a Sun-Maid raisin-grower in California, I found himself on the other side of the quest for better conditions and pay for farmworkers and despised those who came across the border illegally and the burden they added to the economy.

Despite their twenty-year age gap and their differing cultures, they crossed paths in 2008, and a friendship began that has transformed both of their lives in ways they would never have imagined.

Here’s what others are saying after hearing the first episode:

“I am just captivated by this story! Now I think I see why Wayne was excited about 2021… This is much more than a Podcast! I’m sending the website link to friends and family.” — Jack

“Loved this!!! Can’t wait to hear the next one!” — Harvey

“I heard two voices in my head while I was listening. The first voice said: “It’s his own fault, he tried to come here illegally and suffered the consequences”. This is the voice I used to believe was God’s (standing up for justice, consequences and all that). The second voice said: “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased and love dearly.”  This is the voice I now know is Father’s and the voice of grace = true justice. I can’t wait for the rest of the story and see God unfolding through it!” — Isaac

“Ooh, love it!  It’s going to be a great story … Planning on listening with my sisters. Didn’t realize it was going to be so professionally done … Trailer is superb!”  — Jaq

“I am so looking forward to hearing his whole story! Maybe people would have different perspectives, hearing the life of someone who comes from a country where there’s a lot of corruption and seems like surviving is a daily struggle! Wayne, so glad you’re sharing Luis’s story with us.”  — Nellie

Give the first episode a try. You won’t be disappointed, except for having to wait a week for the next one. You can view upcoming episodes there as well as subscribe to them on your favorite podcast feed. I hope you find it as worthy a story to listen to as I found it to tell. If so, please review this story at iTunes and other podcast outlet and pass the link out to your friends or share on social media. We’ll be grateful.

My Friend Luis is a production of Blue Sheep Media in association with Lifestream.org.

“I Believed the Lie”

That was a headline I saw the other day of quoting a woman arrested for her part in the riot at the Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6.  I didn’t read the article, so I don’t know if this was a real moment of self-awakening or simply an excuse to escape the charges against her.  I hope it is the former.

There’s no shame in believing a lie. It happens to all of us. Some people are great liars, telling us stories we desperately want to believe. The chance for healing comes when we begin to suspect that what we believe isn’t true. Most of us immediately feel embarrassed and are tempted to draw back into the lie to preserve our reputation. But the opportunity for growth always comes from exploring the possibility that we are wrong and have something wonderful to learn.

That happened to me when a good friend back in my pastoring days said to me one day, “Don’t you think that sermon you preached Sunday was the most manipulative talk you’ve ever given?”  Immediately, I felt defensive and wanted to argue. But this was a good friend, so I gave his words time to sink in and learn from them.

A friend of mine from the U.K. told me a story about one of the most audacious rebukes I’ve ever heard. After sharing something he was about to do, an older friend leaned in and, with a twinkle in his eye, said, “I love you too much to let you do something so stupid.” Fortunately, they were good enough friends that the younger man recognized the love behind the humor, and doing so saved him a lot of grief.

It’s no doubt the past election cycle has been a painful period for our country, no matter what side of the divide you’re on. Both sides characterized it as a fight between good and evil, God or Satan, saving the country or destroying it. I’ve hated most of the politics that have divided our families, pitted friends against each other, and caused an endless amount of anxiety and fear. One lady wrote me, “I have family and friends who I know to have good hearts, who raged against Trump and said they were praying for him to be assassinated, and family members who are leaders in ministry, holding out for the “Red Sea miracle” that was going to overturn the election and keep Trump in office a second term.”

But I do not come through this season discouraged. Instead, I’m hopeful. In a conversation Sunday, I was expressing how God has been opening their eyes to a better way of thinking that has caused them to question some of their earlier positions. That’s the only way growth happens. If we think we already know everything we need to know, we are in dire straits.

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself on a course through Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah. Almost every day, I read words and phrases in those ancient books that corresponded to the days in which we find ourselves. I am encouraged when the Scripture is as fresh as the morning’s news and so much more enlightening.

I realize the circumstances are very different. Israel was God’s people in a theocracy of his choosing, while we are a democratic republic being polarized by two political parties.  Still, I’m amazed at how specifically the lessons God was giving Israel apply in our context today.

Many people prophesied five years ago that Trump was a Cyrus figure, anointed by God to protect Christianity from the ravages of secularism. Even though I heard that from people I respected, I didn’t sense the touch of God on it, especially when it came from people pushing Christian Nationalism as a viable political matrix for followers of Jesus.  They also used it as an excuse to give Trump their unquestioned loyalty and not challenge or even acknowledge the unseemlier side of his character or his shoot-from-the-hip foreign policy.

Even though I didn’t think Trump was a modern-day Cyrus, I appreciate why many of my friends supported his policies and his judicial appointments. I was grateful for many of them myself, but not enough to ignore his deficiencies. I understand why Israel turned to Egypt and why besieged Christians turned to Trump. They may have their flaws, but they are not nearly as bad as the enemies we’re facing.

But the prophets of Israel who pointed to Egypt were wrong, seeking their help in horses and chariots instead of turning to God. By trying to save themselves, they resisted the work God wanted to do in them.  When the same leaders who told us Trump was our Cyrus prophesied with absolute certainty that Trump would win a second term, I was even more skeptical.  They were like football prognosticators on the football pre-game shows, telling us why our team will win.  They even had a 50% chance of getting it right and still missed.

When they were proved wrong, many of them doubled down on their error, prophesying the “Red Sea miracle” that would occur and overturn the election. That’s what fed some of the passion behind the January 6 attack on the Capitol. When they turned out to be wrong yet again, most still did not repent but blamed the church for not praying hard enough or deflected by telling people, “Who cares who said what; it’s time to win souls.”

Now, read these words from Micah for the prophets of Israel’s day and tell me they don’t apply equally well today for those who put their hope in a man rather than on God.

Here is God’s Message to the prophets, the preachers who lie to my people: “For as long as they’re well paid and well fed, the prophets preach, ‘Isn’t life wonderful! Peace to all!’ But if you don’t pay up and jump on their bandwagon, their ‘God bless you’ turns into ‘God damn you.’ Therefore, you’re going blind. You’ll see nothing. You’ll live in deep shadows and know nothing. The sun has set on the prophets. They’ve had their day; from now on it’s night. Visionaries will be confused, experts will be all mixed up. They’ll hide behind their reputations and make lame excuses to cover up their God-ignorance.” (5-7, The Message)

The leaders of Jacob and the leaders of Israel are leaders contemptuous of justice, who twist and distort right living, leaders who build Zion by killing people, who expand Jerusalem by committing crimes. Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidder, priests mass-market their teaching, prophets preach for high fees, All the while posturing and pretending dependence on God.  (9-12, The Message)

Harsh words, indeed, and not all of them apply, but a lot of them do. Many of our religious leaders have failed in this time to invite our hearts to God and instead placed their hopes in the conventions of humanity. They allied with the wrong agenda, and even when their lies were exposed, they have refused to repent. Instead, they hid behind their reputations and made “lame excuses” to cover up their ignorance of what God was actually doing.

They fought to build their audience by pandering to what people wanted to hear, and many of them charge exorbitant amounts of money to take their “ministry schools” or be on their select mailing lists. We don’t need to blame them or exact a pound of flesh for their failures, but it ought to give us all an opportunity to say maybe these men and women shouldn’t have my ear. Maybe I got caught up in what I hoped to be right instead of what really was.

If you got distracted from your relationship with Jesus by the angst and anger of the politics of our time, now would be a good time to return to the Lord. We can freely participate in politics as citizens of the U.S., but we dare not put our hope there. Please don’t get caught up in the Biden hatred; it will only further crush your soul. All that is still humanity’s kingdom. We’re part of a more powerful kingdom that, even now, is infiltrating every corner of the globe. That kingdom transcends politics and spreads not as we fight each other but as we love our neighbor and, yes, even our enemies.

Remember, God’s salvation for Israel was not found in resisting Babylon but seeing him in their disappointed hopes and expectations. We can, too.  There may be rough times ahead, but one day a trumpet will blast from heaven, and voices will call out,

“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)

Until then, we have only to remain faithful to him, to love as we are being loved, and to watch the hand of God move in the earth.  These are great days!

A Conversation about Racial Equity

Last Sunday, I held a Zoom conversation with people who wanted to discuss some of the political climate we are in, especially as it has affected relationships with friends and family. We didn’t record it, so nothing to share there, but we had a great time talking about putting our hope in God’s kingdom, not the political parties that humans have devised. We had a lot of people share the trajectory of their journey from a strong partisan point of view, to a greater generosity toward people who don’t see the world the way they do.

One of the issues that kept arising in that conversation was about racial equity, and how to be a voice for positive change in an environment that is so politically charged.  One wrote me this after:  “I’d love another one on how and what we can do to be more racially conscious and helpful. When I speak up and I do, I’m making groups feel self-conscious and I’m a little ostracized…🤨”

So I asked Arnita, one of my co-authors on A Language of Healing, to lend her insight as an African-American woman as to how people from the majority culture can be more sensitive and helpful as allies in the quest for racial justice. This Sunday, February 14 at 10:30 am Pacific Time, I’m going to host another Zoom conversation with Arnita to help people explore how to have better conversations here.

This time, however, I’m going to limit the room to about 25 people so we can have more of an interactive conversation. However, I will also be streaming it live on The God Journey Facebook page  for those who would like to watch it. It will also be on that page for people to listen to afterwards, and we may even excerpt some of that conversation for a future podcast at The God Journey.

If you’d like to be part of that conversation let me know and I’m going to prayerfully select twenty-five people out of those who want to join us. This is not limited to the majority culture and I hope to have a good representation of people with brown and black skin with us as well.

Whether you want to join us in the room or not, if you have any specific questions you’d like Arnita and me to address, please send them in advance so we can give them our consideration.

I am giving first opportunity to those of you who were there last week but will also be inviting others as well.  I know everyone can’t be in the room with us but we are going to stream it live, record it, and possibly put excerpts in a future podcast of The God Journey.

 

Want to Zoom with Me on Sunday?

I got this email last week, and it really touched me. I know this woman isn’t alone. Many have come through this pandemic and election season confused about what is true and how to deal with people in our lives who seem to have fallen prey to many of the lies that are disarming the power of his church.

My heart hurt for this lady and what she is going through, but I also admire the courage of her honesty and how to handle what’s going on around her:

Today, I got an email from someone I looked up to circulating a conspiracy theory about vaccines, and it kind of just cracked me open. I’m seeing the people who taught me to value truth abandon it or not even using the slightest bit of discernment as they circulate clearly problematic “information.”

I just don’t know what to do. It’s hurting me more than I expected. The isolation of this year is hard, homeschooling our three boys is hard, the political turn the country has taken has been deeply concerning. Watching what’s happening in the church is by far the hardest.

This year the church looks nothing like the church to me. I watched my Mom and her husband make fun of the black lives matter movement. I listened to my sister’s pastor preach against black lives matter for having points he disagreed with. I watched people I went to Bible school with mock George Floyd’s death and condemn the protests that followed. My entire family, right down to cousins, seem to have bought into the “rigged election” lies. With that comes political conspiracy theories using the name of Jesus. Now the vaccine conspiracy theories. Most of my family is wrapped up in this. I feel so sad and so tired. I feel brittle. Every day Jesus teaches me more how much He loves me, I’m completely 100% all in with Jesus, but for the first time in my entire life, I’m not so sure what to do with Christians. I don’t know who they are anymore. It makes me cry.

What I thought was, isn’t. The people I respected, I now do not. The people I trusted, I now do not. I don’t want to be part of a church that is a thinly veiled political party with spiritual window dressing. But I do want Jesus and all the He has for me, wherever that might be.

I’ve had quite an exchange with her and even interact a bit with this email on The God Journey podcast set to air tomorrow (February 5).  I wrote the blog on The Symptoms of Delusion to engage in this kind of conversation. If you are having some of the same struggles this lady is and would like to get together with some other people to talk about it, I’m going to hold an open Zoom conversation this Sunday, February 7 at 10:30 am Pacific Time.  Please understand me. This is not for people who take offense to her email and want to argue that the election was rigged, that Donald Trump is a modern-day Cyrus, that there isn’t racial injustice in this country, or that the vaccine is unsafe.  This is for those who want to have a different conversation — how do I navigate a Christian world I feel so out of step with? And, what might God be doing in our day through all of this that can give me hope?

And, if that doesn’t include you, please don’t feel judged or excluded from God’s life or my love.  This is a very trying time and rather than fight over the controversy on Sunday, we just want to talk to those who are feeling alienated from their friends and family who see politics very differently than they do.

If you’d like to join us, please email me and I will send you a Zoom link.  We’ll spend about an hour together and see what God does.

 

Also ——————-

I’m looking for ten or so people who are between 25 and 40 years of age with a sense that God has given you specific gifts to help equip others to live in his love in a bit more unconventional way than some of our religious boxes provide.  I already have a few in mind, but I sense there are some others who would like to get together weekly on Zoom and see where the conversation goes. This is not so I can teach you anything. I have no agenda or curriculum for you to follow, but just a willingness to walk alongside a few younger people while God is shaping something in their hearts.  This will be a chance for us to bounce questions and insights off each other and see what God does. I only want people who are already familiar with the passions of my heart from having read at least a few of my books or listened to a fair amount of podcasts.  I hope to encourage people who feel as if God is inviting them on a similar walk.

If you’d like to be considered, please email me. If I don’t know you already tell me a bit about yourself and why you would be interested in this kind of gathering.  I’m looking to start with about ten or twelve people so I’m going to be praying about who that might be off of the things you share with me.  If there’s more interest then I’ll have to see about starting another or what else God might have in mind.

A Life-Long Companion

I am grateful to those of you who have taken the time to review my new book on Amazon.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I hope they are helpful on people finding this book as an encouragement to the Spirit’s work in them. You have no idea how much those reviews help to launch this book into the wind. If you’re enjoying it and haven’t reviewed it yet, please consider doing so. Even a sentence or two is incredibly helpful.

While Amazon has the Kindle version for order, they are still listing the hardback book as “Unavailable.”  It’s crazy!  We shipped books to them weeks ago and have confirmation of them having been received. We have called them and written them and they still have not found the glitch that makes it seem the book is not available.  I’m so sorry for their incompetence. Don’t despair, though, we have plenty available for immediate shipping at Lifestream.  (For international orders, please email Jessica for a quote before ordering because our shipping calculator does not work for foreign destinations.) And if you want to hear more about the book, I was a guest last week on the AdventureLife podcast with Will Ratliff where we talk about the book.

I got my favorite review of this book a couple of weeks ago via text in the middle of playing a round of golf.  It was from my thirteen-year-old granddaughter.  “I was reading your book yesterday it is very good.” To hear her unbidden call it ‘very good.” warmed my heart. Let’s just say reading isn’t high on her list of favorite activities. What it lacks in eloquence, it makes up for in heart. I dedicated this book to my three grandchildren because in many ways I wrote it for them. As I was working on it, I hoped this would become a treasured companion for their life-long journeys—a loving grandpa whispering in their ear the things that he thinks matter most.

If it would touch them, I’m sure it would touch many more—parents, children, grandmas, and grandpas. By the reviews people have been posting and the emails I’ve received from those reading it, it has hit its mark.

Sara and I read my January 31 devotional last night. Many have written me to tell me it is one of their favorites. It is one of mine too. Those are the thoughts that draw me into a better relational space that makes me aware of God’s presence and his activity around me. That’s what my hope was in putting this devotional together, and I’m so glad to hear from those of you who are already finding it a welcome companion on your journey.

Here are some of the reviews from Amazon.  It blesses my heart to see how others are being touched by this book.

Jonathan

I first found Wayne Jacobsen through his Lifestream website many years ago when I was going through a difficult time in my spiritual journey. I have read many of his books, blog posts and listened to many episodes of his podcast over the years, and I was very excited when I found out he was creating a daily devotional! I got the Kindle version as soon as I heard it was available, and while daily devotionals were created to be read one day at a time, I haven’t been able to keep myself from reading ahead, and I am currently a month ahead of where I am supposed to be in the book, but I don’t care! With every devotional, I feel myself growing closer to God as I am made more aware of how much he loves me, and how I often forget that I am one of his beloved, loved greatly by him, just because he loves me, not because of anything I ever did or could do to earn his love. Returning to my first love is such a great experience, I am looking forward to reading through this devotional, and then starting over again to read through it multiple times this year!

 

MA Brown

I’ve been reading and listening to Wayne for almost twelve years now, and I love these little snippets of the wisdom he’s gained on his journey to live every moment in Father’s affection. They’re great reminders to me… I hope that they’re just what you need to breathe hope and peace into your heart and mind, especially in these challenging times. More than that, I hope that you will decide to go deeper into Wayne’s journey through the rest of his books. I’m grateful for his company on my journey–I bet you will be, too.

 

Timmy

This is a daily devotional book, but you cannot stop at just one. They are so inspiring. I have learned from Wayne’s journey with Father though his books, blog, and podcasts for more than ten years. The truths that Wayne shares have greatly impacted my relationship with God. I am so thankful to have his rich and wise insights in a daily format that will remind me and encourage me to go ever deeper in living in the reality of my Heavenly Father’s love for me.

 

Janelle

You know that feeling that you have on a busy day, when you get to take a break with a cup of your favorite beverage and just sit and take some time to recharge your batteries? Well, the entries in this book remind me of that. In a busy world loaded with hectic schedules, exhausting demands on our time and attention, and relationships that are floundering where we wish them to be flourishing, the contents in this book offer an oasis to visit. The truths portrayed energize you to take that next step forward in hope. We are meant to thrive, not just survive. Learning to live loved equals a security we all long for, an ever-growing sense of belonging that cannot be found reliably anywhere else. In these pages you will find much to point you in that direction and encourage you along the way.

 

Dianne

Generally, devotional books focus on what we have done or haven’t done, what we should do or shouldn’t do. We read them as an obligation because we “should” in order to “be better” Christian. This book is different. It is a pleasure and a joy to read because each reading gives us a different view of God’s love for us. No guilt. No shame. Just God’s love for you; unending and unconditional. You’ll probably finish this book in way less than a year because once you start reading, you’ll forget to stop at the end of each entry. You’ll find the readings so encouraging, so inspirational, so comforting that you will keep reading, one after another. What better way to begin (or end) each day than with a reminder of how much Father God loves you.

 

1thing

Open this book to any day of the year and you’ll be glad you did. Wayne is my Reminder-in-Chief—pastorally and kindly calling me back to live loved. This devotional is like having a daily cuppa with a dear friend who truly cares about your soul and wants to help you live freely. A beautiful gift to yourself…and others!

 

Lisa

How refreshing to have a devotional tool that focuses on the Father’s love, his affection and desire for me, rather than what’s wrong or needs fixed. The encouragement and peace this engenders is stealth spiritual warfare. Learning to live loved, is turning on the light to remove darkness, rather than trying to remove darkness to get the light in. We didn’t prepare for Jesus to come…. He came to prepare us to be loved.

 

Patricia

I’ve been on a “living loved” journey for over 3 years now and I can say Wayne Jacobsen’s books, podcasts and now this devotional have helped me grow even deeper in my love relationship with my Papa (I’m also a huge fan of the “Shack” book he co-wrote and I watch the movie every New Year’s Eve! This has been a huge game changer for me as I believe “we were created to live loved”; it is what our soul longs for and can only be satisfied by living in the Father’s affection every day! Every day there is a short, but perfect to the point thought to help you stay there!

 

Madison

I have read most of Wayne’s books and they have been a breath of fresh air on my faith journey. This is a great devotional, one that you will not feel guilty about later for not keeping up with like most that I have tried in the past. You will want to skip ahead in your daily readings or just randomly search for one because his words are such an encouragement, that point you straight to Jesus and the heart of the Father.

 

Marti 

This devotional is fresh and full of life. I highly recommend this book for the person who wants to deep in their relationship with God out of love rather than discipline.

 

Cheryl

This devotional is unlike any other, deeply profound – allowing the heart to shift from a place of anxiety, performance and striving and into a place of trust, delight, enjoyment and love. 

 

A-MS

This is the kind of devotional that will leave you feeling like you’ve been invited into a warm hug from Father and will leave you wanting to know what the next day’s reading has to say. These daily devotionals encourage us to seek for a deeper relationship with Father, and to go on a journey with Him that is our own journey, not a carbon copy of someone else’s. I’m looking forward to spending the next year being reminded every day of Father’s love, freedom and fullness of life that He has for me as I read through this book.

 

Will 

I thought I knew about God’s love until I read the writings of Wayne Jacobsen. He has a way of drawing you into an understanding of Father’s love like no other. This book is no exception. If you’ve ever doubted God’s love or how He could love you, read this book and you will see. It’s not about what you do or what you’ve done, but about what He’s done and who He is. 

 

Monica

The richness in this book is like a Thanksgiving feast. There is so much depth in these pages and beautiful glimpses of Father and his love. I ride a high for the rest of the day after reading in it. I see him in my life a little bit clearer and rest a little deeper! 

 

Bill

In this book it feels like Wayne opened all of his personal journals and shared with us the best of the best of his thoughts. I agree with some others who say they cannot stop at the reading for the current day. I just want to keep reading! Each day is simple, but profound. Please purchase one of these `labors of love` for yourself, and some for those you love!

 

David

I’m convinced you can’t find better things to read, anywhere! The way things are explained makes such perfect sense, my heart cannot deny,,, and neither does it want to.

Order your copy today.

A Dad and His Son

January 22 

The father and son in the photo are obviously delighted with each other and the photo perfectly captures the joy, wonder, and affection that God wants to share with his children.

“I’m a long way from that,” Glenn admitted after I had a chance to let the picture sink in, “but I know he is calling me to be just like that little boy.”

I know what he meant because I’d been down that road. Learning to be so at peace in the Father’s presence, so secure in his care, and so ready to enjoy the day with him, was a long journey for me.

“That’s me!” Glenn finally said. “The little boy there! I was two years old.” My head shot up in surprise. I had not even considered that this was a family photo. “My father died of a heart condition within two months of that picture. I have no memory of him, only this picture. Now I want to know my heavenly Father with the same simplicity and joy.”

No this isn’t the relationship God asks of us, but the one he had already been at work to produce in us. “We know love,” John wrote, “only because he loved us first.”

 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16 (NIV)

 

___________________

This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. Since all pre-orders have been shipped, we will only do this until this Friday, January 22. You’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or here from Amazon or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

In the Eyes of a Son

January 21

“Everything God is calling me to right now seems wrapped up in this picture,” Glenn told me as he laid the black and white photograph of father and son on the table.

This was the first time I had been in Glenn and Elaine’s home. We sat down for breakfast a few hours earlier and hadn’t yet moved from the table. We were talking about the awesome relationship that God extends to each of us through his son.

The photo was carefully framed and matted, an obvious treasure. I could see why immediately—I was captured by the interplay of this father and son standing beside a sapling birch tree that had already lost its leaves for winter. The clothes they wore spoke of a previous generation.

The delight of a father looking down at his son and the obvious pride of a two-year-old looking back was captured perfectly by the photographer. The connection between this father and son was profound. As Glenn cradled it in his hands, he told me he is just beginning to see his relationship with God in the same way. So should we all.

But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do
what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.
John 1:10–12 (MSG)

 

___________________

This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. Since all pre-orders have been shipped, we will only do this until this Friday, January 22. You’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or here from Amazon or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

Affection or Adoration?

January 20  

What do you think? Would I rather sit on the couch with my children while they tell me what an incredibly awesome father I am, repeating the same words again and again so I am sure to get the message; or would I rather take a walk with them, talking about their joys and fears?

The latter, of course. Far more than their praise, I’d rather have my children’s presence. I want to be with them in their laughter and to comfort them in their tears. Why would it be any different with God?

The fact is, you can praise someone you don’t love, holding him at a distance, feeling left out and alone. However, I don’t think you can love him and not also be completely overwhelmed by how worthy he is of your praise.

Just make sure your adoration never displaces affection. Give him all the adoration and praise he deserves. Just don’t be confused that to him your praise means more than your love.

 

You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:14–15 (NIV)

 

___________________

This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. Since all pre-orders have been shipped, we will only do this until this Friday, January 22. You’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or here from Amazon or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

Do You Love Me?

January 19 

It makes more sense to me now, why Jesus asked Peter the question he did after the resurrection: “Do you love me?” He didn’t want to know if Peter adored him, feared him, or was ready to serve him in the face of any conceivable threat.

He just wanted to know he had Peter’s love. Having that, he knew everything else would fall into place. Lacking that, nothing else would matter.

If the cross accomplished its purpose, even this one—who had betrayed him so painfully—would find his way back into his love. After all, Peter never stopped loving him, but simply let his fears overwhelm him when the pressure was on.

His failure did not disprove his love. Jesus knew that. For the moment, Peter didn’t. But he would soon enough and then he would be free to live out the rest of his days with growing affection for his resurrected friend.

Don’t think your mistakes prove your lack of love. Find a love bigger than your failures and you’ll find a life that grows increasingly free from wanting to go your own way.

 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17–19 (NIV)

___________________

This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. Since all pre-orders have been shipped, we will only do this until this Friday, January 22. You’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or here from Amazon or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.  After many hassles with their IT department, you can finally order the hardback at Amazon.

We Are All Beautiful in His Eyes

January 18 

Though our flesh can be seduced by the adoration of others, our Father doesn’t share the same ego. I know many people who sacrifice the affection of their family for their success in the workplace, but God isn’t wired that way. I think he would treasure affection over adoration any day of the week. He is the God of love, remember?

Nyssa’s brokenness didn’t diminish her father’s affection. If anything, her brokenness made her more endearing. We have the tendency to diminish our worship when we are aware of our own failures and weaknesses.

Don’t great crowds of adoration always push the so-called “beautiful people” and the “power people” to the front while shunning those deemed “lesser” to the back? But in a father’s lap, there are no greater and lesser. Parents delight equally in their children and only see points of brokenness as cracks into which more love can be poured.

Can we dare to believe that our Father sees us the same way Jim sees his daughter Nyssa? I can assure you he loves you far more than that.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

 

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This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. Since all pre-orders have been shipped, we will only do this until January 24. You’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

He Has Chosen You

January 17

Nyssa was adopted into her family. Her parents first laid eyes on her when she was eleven days old and knew her entire condition before they threw wide the doors of their home and invited her in.

Jim told me he was initially reticent to adopt a child with so many special needs. But the moment he first laid eyes on Nyssa, all that changed. “As soon as I had her in my arms,” he said, “she looked up at me and sighed. My heart just melted, and I knew I had to say ‘Yes.’”

She was chosen in the same way Father has chosen you. He was fully aware of all the brokenness he would love you through.

Her father reminded me that she couldn’t even crawl into her own father’s lap that morning. If her father hadn’t scooped down and picked her up, she would never have been there. I’m certain our plight is similar. Who of us can really claim to crawl into God’s lap by our own power? He is our only source, and there would be no intimacy if he did not make it happen.

Perhaps the most we do is just lift our arms to him in surrender and desire. But our place on his lap is all his doing.

 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed youso that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16 (NIV)

 

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This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. If you pre-ordered a copy it is already in the mail to you. We will do one more week here and after that you’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

A Girl and Her Daddy!

January 16 

“Majesty, worship his Majesty . . .” The familiar words rolled off my lips as I sat among a group of believers from all over the western United States who had gathered to share their experiences in relational church. It was Sunday morning and we were just beginning with a chance to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. I felt unsettled.

Sitting next to me that morning was a three-and-a-half-year-old girl, cradled in the arms of her father, Jim. Nyssa struggles against the complications of Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a genetic muscle disorder that has caused severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and disfigured fingers. She is fed through a tube in her stomach and the disorder renders her unable to talk, walk, or play like other children. In fact, she can only lay cuddled in her father’s arms, cooing and slobbering. The connection between her and her father and the love and adoration that beamed from his face as he whispered to her and jiggled her in his arms was mesmerizing.

That’s what I want! The words sailed through my mind so quietly I almost missed them. I had to stop a minute and ask not only what I had heard, but where it had come from. Certainly, this wasn’t my thought. After a few moments of meditation, however, I recognized Father’s voice in it and suddenly it dawned on me why my heart had been so unsettled that morning.

We were exalting God, joining the great throng of angelic beings that surround the throne with praise and adoration to God. He was just wanting us to enjoy a moment in his lap, like that father and daughter; with an intimacy that no moment of adoration could rival.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 1:12–13 (NIV)

 

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This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. If you pre-ordered a copy it is already in the mail to you. We will do one more week here and after that you’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

The Fatherless Epidemic

January 15

“I think my dad hates me,” she said through her sniffles, choking back the sob that hung in her throat. Then she detailed the fight they’d had the night before. Her dad was upset about the provocative way she often dressed, and she was certain he had no respect for her choices.

I walked her back through the conversation, a surrogate dad who suggested that her father’s fears were less about judging her than they were about trying to protect her from men with less than honorable intentions.

“So, you think my dad doesn’t hate me?” she asked at the end.

“Nicole, I have no idea. He’s your dad, but I would be surprised if he didn’t love you very much. However, can I ask how things are with your heavenly dad?”

Her twisted face told me my question had confused her. A moment passed. “Do you mean God?”

I nodded. “I grew up in church,” she said. “I hate him.”

I smiled as I looked at Nicole and whispered to her as if sharing the most incredible of secrets: “As wrong as you might be about your earthly dad, I can tell you you’re dead wrong about your heavenly One.”

Her eyes lit up. “What do you mean?”

“Nicole, you have a father who loves you more than anyone on this planet ever has or ever will.”

The hope that we all have a Father who knows us completely but loves us extravagantly is all but lost in our day. It might be time to uncover it again.

 

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

John 4:9 (NIV)

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This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. If you pre-ordered a copy it is already in the mail to you. We will do one more week here and after that you’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

Where to Begin?

January 14 

What do you think? Do you want a relationship with God based on fear or the endearment of his own character and love?

If you don’t know how to do that, find someone who does and ask him or her if they will help you. Don’t look for someone to tell you exactly what to do, but who will instead help you see God’s fingerprints in your own journey and the realities his Spirit is offering to invite you farther down that path.

Let them share their journey with you, but don’t try to copy theirs. Instead, learn to listen in your heart as God shows you how he wants to make himself known to you. Then watch how he does that. Share your journey with them and let them help you lean into those things that seem genuine and recognize those things that smell of self-effort.

Try not to get discouraged when it doesn’t happen quickly or as easily as you might hope. Look for others who have a similar hunger. Please don’t give up, because learning to find your footing on a journey with him does take a while. This life is not like going to Disneyland; it is a real engagement with the Maker of heaven and earth.

Knowing him starts in small ways and over time grows to become the most valuable part of your life.

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went awayand sold everything he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45–46

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This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. If you pre-ordered a copy it is already in the mail to you. We will do one more week here and after that you’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.

Seven Characteristics of the Deluded

No one wants to live inside of lies. All of us are doing the best we can with what we believe is true. But what if the light we think we have is actually darkness.  Jesus warned us that when you treat the darkness in you as if it is light, that darkness will overwhelm you. (Matthew 6:23)

I’ve lived most of my life deluded.  First, by the lies of sin that promised a fulfillment it couldn’t bring, then by false religious teaching that God needed me to perform well to earn his love and blessing. It’s only in the last twenty-five years that I’ve watched God slowly help me recognize the difference between what is true inside of him and what is not true inside myself. It has been an amazing journey and it’s still ongoing. I continue to wake up to the increasing light in my journey and continue to shed the lies that have sought to control me.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched many people I know sink into darkness, genuinely believing the lies of politicians, alleged dreams and visions of religious leaders who don’t know my Father’s heart, and Internet posts from Russian troll farms and QAnon. I am convinced that a great delusion has gone into the world to disempower God’s people. These are people I love, and to watch them manipulated by a clever deception that appeals to their fears and hopes makes my heart hurt.

I know how easy it is to misinterpret the times especially when we feel afraid and vulnerable. It isn’t easy to watch your culture move away from the moral underpinnings you prefer or to feel despised, ignored, and belittled by the national media or called “deplorables” by leftist politicians. It makes it easy to gravitate toward those who offer easy answers and not realize that the freedom we cherish cannot come at the expense of oppressing others we don’t like.

Of course, I know many think I’m the one who is deluded. All you have to do is look at the comments many made to my Facebook post in the aftermath of the insurrection at the Capitol last week, and how President Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election have triggered the fears and anger of many people. I was accused of all sorts of things, told I was deceived, and even had my faith questioned. Don’t feel badly for me. People’s attempts to shame or manipulate me don’t have a place to land in me anymore. I am more concerned for the pain that causes them to lash out so carelessly.

I listen carefully, because I don’t consider myself above a few well-placed delusions myself. That’s why I’m in constant conversations with people locally and around the world about these things to check my thoughts as to whether they are flowing from Jesus’ heart or my own thoughts. And, if it turns out I’m wrong about any of this, I’ll get to admit it, to apologize, and change accordingly.

We all have to live by the light we have, but we also need to ensure that the light we think we have is light. There are extremist groups right and left that want to use the polarization in our culture to tear us apart, but I thought almost all of my evangelical friends would think an armed assault on the Capitol was a bridge too far.  Apparently, for many it wasn’t.  Neither is it enough to know that those who claimed God told them through dreams, prophecies, or a voice that President Trump would win a second term were prophesying their own hopes, not God’s.

I’m not writing this article for those of you who have yet to see through this delusion. Time will tell, you know. It always does. Lies never stand up to reality, but that may take awhile to sort out. I’m writing this for people who are questioning their own conclusions and wondering what God sees in all of this. How can we know when events unfold if we’re being lured into a delusion or finding a way into the truth?

This is why character is so important to me. When I gauge another person’s perspective, I take stock of the fruit of their life. I tend to distrust the voices of fearful, angry people, who mock and make accusations when people disagree with them. I look for those who demonstrate a passion for what’s true, humility in their own exploration of it, and generosity toward others with whom they disagree. They take the search for truth seriously, but hold it lightly realizing no one has a corner on it, especially them. They live confidently inside what they know, but are always open to new evidence that might change their perception of truth

Over a lifetime of wrestling with truth in my own heart and decades of helping others heal from involvement in religious cults, political manipulations, and toxic relationships, I have observed these seven characteristics in people who are unknowingly living under delusion:

First, they see their side as all good, and other side as all evil.

They don’t realize that humanity is a mix both of the honorable and dishonorable and that is reflected in each of us as well. I liked many of the policies President Trump put in place but at the same time I was dismayed at his arrogance and toxicity in working with others, even on his own staff. In my Facebook comment section last week, you’ll see people say that those in the Capitol were from Antifa, that their side wouldn’t do that. When those arrested all turned out to be Trump supporters, then the story shifted to that’s how frustrated the other side has made us. We’re all a mix. Some of our intentions are good and some are selfish and we’re not always the best ones to sort that out, but sort it out we must.

Second, someone expressing disagreement makes them visibly angry.

I think this is true because intuitively they know they are caught in something that isn’t quite true, so feeling threatened makes them angry. They lash out with false accusations and attempts to shame others as a way to bolster their confidence. If they were truly confident, however, they wouldn’t resort to such things. Disagreement never puts someone beyond the reach of love and kindness unless you’re insecure.

Third, they refuse to consider that they might be wrong.

Honest questions threaten the false comfort they have built for themselves. It’s like the young girl who falls in love with her dreamy boyfriend. She thinks he can do no wrong. And even after he hits her, or cheats on her, she will blame herself for ticking off the dreamy boyfriend, rather than reconsider whether her knight on a white horse may not be such a knight after all. If you’re growing, you are always wondering where you might be wrong and learning what you can to bring your life more in line with his.

Fourth, they eliminate conflicting inputs.

All cults isolate people from family and friends and other groups because they know the delusion is so fragile it won’t stand up to real life. They can’t be around people who question them and must get their version of “accurate” information from approved sources. This is why both right and left advocates have ended up in separate media silos. They can only read what affirms their bias. Truth is not that fragile. Growth-minded people question their conclusions every day as they pick up new information and grow inside the truth God is giving to them over a lifetime.

Fifth, they believe in the infallibility of their leader or their own thinking.

They embrace every word from their pastor, author, political leader, or guru not realizing that we are all flawed. No one speaks with absolute truth, even if they quote a Scripture or cite a dream as proof. If you give the aura of infallibility to anyone, you are only hiding from your own need of discernment.

Sixth, they cast aspersions on people’s faith or motives that won’t agree with them.

This is truly a defensive position. When they can no longer answer your questions, they will attack you or question your relationship with God. Assuming you know someone else’s motives is particularly heinous since no one can disprove their motives. They can’t keep the conversation about ideas because they are afraid their arguments will not hold up.

Seventh, they justify their bad behavior by pointing out how bad their opponents are.

No, President Trump has not been fairly treated by Democratic leadership but for the most part he has played into their hands as well.  I get this from a political standpoint, but for those of us who claim to be ambassadors of a different kingdom, we can’t take our cues from the worst examples among us. Just because I’m unfairly treated does not give me the right to do the same to others. Jesus called us to love in the face of attack, to lay down our lives for the good of the other, not to demand our own way.

If you want to know the truth about these things, you will. God’s Spirit is faithful to reveal it to those looking for it. The last word on all this has not yet been written. Something of God is afoot in all of this inviting the tenderhearted out of the delusions that have disfigured them. It may hurt a bit when that happens, but the fruit of living in God’s reality is worth whatever cost it takes to get there. I pray all of us will have eyes to see and ears to hear what he is saying in all of this.

The Most Engaging Invitation

January 13 

Far from being the kill-joy that religion makes God out to be, or the excuse for our injustices to others, God becomes a valued companion in this journey called life. When you know who this amazing God is, “Be holy as I am holy” is not the most onerous command in Scripture, but the most engaging invitation. When you know him, you will want to be like him.

And if you want to be like him, it’s great to know he has provided everything for that to happen. There’s no way I could do that on my own. All I have to do is learn to live in his love, and he’s the one who teaches us that, too.

Now, I know some of you reading this are frustrated that your relationship with God doesn’t feel like that. Despite your prayers, Bible reading, church attendance, and trying to be good, God still feels like a distant deity rarely involved in real circumstances of daily existence. I lived a long time there myself, so I understand. The five things I’ve described above are the fruit of a long trajectory in learning how to live in his love. It doesn’t happen overnight, with a snap of the fingers or an ecstatic Jesus encounter.

Learning how to lean into his reality and recognize his fingerprint around us is a lifelong quest, perhaps the greatest adventure our humanity offers. Our appetites can betray us, our intellect often deceives us, and the world so easily distracts us with its amusements and its fears. Cultivating the inner life to become increasingly sensitive to the ways Jesus makes himself known does take some focus and participation from us.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which  has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:13-14

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This reflection is taken from my new book, Live Loved Free Full. I am running them here because we didn’t receive the book in time to ship them before the start of the year. If you pre-ordered a copy it is already in the mail to you. We will do one more week here and after that you’ll need to get your book to keep reading. You can order your hardback copy from us or get the e-book from your favorite e-book distributors. The Kindle edition is here.