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 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

Excruciatingly Beautiful

The phrase “excruciatingly beautiful” first appeared in an email from a friend in Ohio. He told me he had been through a painful betrayal and that God was teaching him how to forgive. “It is excruciatingly beautiful,” he wrote.

I’ve never seen those two words used together anywhere. When I typed ‘excruciatingly beautiful into my search engine, our podcast from two years ago by that name was the first listing. However, other listings defined excruciatingly beautiful as “something so beautiful it hurts,” often used in art forms such as a movie plot or musical score. There’s nothing about how it applies to life.

I would define excruciatingly beautiful as “something beautiful produced out of excruciating pain,” such as the birth of a child or healing from trauma. It can also be true of any pain in our lives that moves us to behold God’s beauty more significantly.

If you’ve never been there, it is hard to imagine how pain can give way to beauty. And yet, I’m so grateful it does. Many see the suffering of our world as proof that a loving Creator cannot exist; I see the beauty he weaves into this fallen universe as proof of a loving Creator spilling redemption into human chaos. No doubt, there is excruciating agony in the selfishness and darkness of our world, and yet there is also exquisite beauty as well. And they aren’t always unrelated. My life’s most remarkable transformations and joys have often come through the most challenging times.

Two years after my friend’s letter to me, that phrase continues to crop up regularly in my conversations, as it did this week talking to a man in a years-long, gut-wrenching crisis. He continues to share with me what he is learning about himself, the Father’s love, and how to engage others more authentically. He described it as beautiful, even while his crisis deepens. Let’s be clear; God is not the author of his situation; it results from how others treat him. God didn’t give him this pain or “allow it” to teach him a lesson. The pain was coming anyway; God is simply working his goodness into the tragedy to make it part of his redemption for my friend and others around him. This is how we become part of his redemption story.

What amazes me is how easily he could cut himself away from his pain and run from it, but he does not. Most do in his situation, which is why many of them don’t get to the beauty that would lie behind it for them, too. He’s sometimes felt like it, but God keeps revealing stuff to him that keeps him in it.

If we’re going to discover his beauty in our circumstances, we can’t run from ‘excruciating.’ No one enjoys pain, but rather than trying to deny your grief or disguise it beneath temporary amusements, it would be far better to sit with God in it. Embrace him in your pain and disappointments, and you will discover what he wants you to know that will soften your heart and transform your thinking. This can take some time—months even—but let his work be perfected in you, and you will discover the mystery of excruciatingly beautiful as well.

That’s what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:16-18:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

When the temporal things we think are so important give way to the eternal things that truly are, we behold a beauty more incredible than we could dream. On the one hand, it is sad that it often takes difficult times for us to gain that perspective. On the other, aren’t you grateful that our Father can use anything that happens to us to move us more deeply into the things that matter most?

Shocked Again at Father’s Timing

I love the way Father weaves himself into the fabric of our day. I hadn’t seen the notes pictured above for decades. I forgot I even had them until I picked up a tablet off my desk, and there they were sitting beneath. Look at the date: “2/12/75.”

How they got there, I have no idea. Between moving into storage from our old home and then into this one, I suspected they fell out of something, and I laid the tablet on them without knowing they were there. When I picked it up a few days ago, I was undone for quite a while.

Dr. Clyde Kilby

These are not just any set of notes. They are scribblings from lectures given by Dr. Clyde Kilby, a professor of English at Wheaton College and the founder of The Marion E. Wade Center, which is a library to study the writings of the Inklings, including C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, two of my favorite authors. They opened my heart to the wonder of God’s mystery and the adventure of following him. He wrote and taught extensively on the influence of these men and was one of the leading authorities on their material.

As part of my work for the Chaplain’s Office during my senior year, I was assigned to escort Dr. Kilby to his lectures and take him for meals when he visited Oral Roberts University. We often ate with others, but the last night we dined alone at the Steak and Ale Restaurant beside a log fire in a stone fireplace. The Old English ambiance and the fact that Dr. Kilby resembled in so many ways the wise, gentle, witty man I thought C. S. Lewis must have been, it was like dining with the great thinker himself.

Then, to my horror, he pulled out a manuscript I had written as part of my senior project. The Chaplain had given him a few chapters, and he pulled them out to discuss them with me. For the next few moments, he told me how impressed he was with my writing for a young man and encouraged me to pursue my craft. “You have the gift of writing. Don’t ever forget that, no matter how difficult it might be to find your way into print. The world needs your words. Pursue it no matter what.”

I was blown away then, and still am, by the encouragement God gave me that night through this dear man. Our friendship grew from there through letters, and twice when I was in the Chicago area, I got to sit in his garden with him and his wife after their retirement. My interactions with him are some of the clearest and most treasured memories of my journey.

My eyes moistened, thumbing through those old notes as they rekindled the memories of my relationship with Dr. Kilby and his encouragement for me to write. I have no doubt it was providential that they ended up on my desk at this moment. Something had been stirring in my heart, and not only finding these notes but also the content of the first lecture seems to confirm a growing direction in my heart.

It has been nearly sixteen months since I returned home from my last trip to discover that, to my complete shock, Sara had left me and planned to file for divorce. A few days into that stretch of the journey, and before I had any conversation with Sara, God seemed to be letting me know that this was not what it appeared to be and that he would be bringing her back. As I prayed one day, I saw in my mind a spaceship approaching a giant planet. Its trajectory bent about sixty degrees as it passed, and soon it was off in a different direction. God seemed to speak to my heart, “This is going to change the trajectory of your life.”  And has it ever!

Early on, everything stopped—podcasts, blogs, writing, and travel. Sara was first; find out what happened to her and see if I could reconnect. When we discovered that Sara was drowning in trauma from her childhood, about which she had complete amnesia. At that point, I dedicated the rest of my life to being part of Sara’s healing and Sara’s joy. Over the last year, we sold our home, wandered around together in an RV to Virginia and back, and now have purchased a forty-year-old home and are remodeling it as a place for us. I’ve held that lady through the most painful revelations, helped her set a course for freedom, and now we are finding a way to live together that will honor her trauma and the work Father is doing in it.

It has all been a joy to live in this space with her and to let go of everything else. It has not only changed the trajectory of my life; it has also transformed me in ways I never saw coming. I see many things differently today than I did sixteen months ago. God has been expanding my heart to see that the way I’ve loved Sara through this is how God loves his people who are lost in the world’s darkness and tormented by sin. We are exploring some of that now on The God Journey podcast.

Over the past year, I’ve wondered if I’d write again or travel. Walking with Sara through this has taken most of my time and emotional energy. I managed to keep podcasting with Kyle when we understood what was happening with Sara and knew she wanted to tell her story there. I have also continued to walk with people through tragedies and discoveries that are rocking their world and continue with a small group of others to gaze with God in prayer at the brokenness of the world and his redemption in the midst of it.

Now that we are approaching the end of our remodeling projects, the desire to write again has been steadily growing. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I’d ever write another book. My best book is already in the world, He Loves Me, and its companion devotional, Live Loved Free Full, are encouraging many people to live in Father’s love each day. So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, and Finding Church are still the best things I have to say about being part of the church Jesus is building and not being disillusioned by humanity’s attempts to fabricate its own version.

“Will you speak for me again?” The words ran through my mind a couple of months ago. I’ve resisted giving in to them because Sara and I are intentionally avoiding old patterns to embrace new ones. She has been wonderfully encouraging, however, about me writing again. I’m sure she’ll want me distracted when she has time to play in the garden. So, I’ve been toying with two possible books that keep rising in my heart.

That’s why finding these notes one morning undid me a bit. As soon as I saw Dr. Kilby’s name on it, it was as if all the encouragement God gave me through him almost fifty years ago came flooding back as if it were yesterday. And the first few pages of those notes strike the heart of the Father’s passion growing in my soul. Here are a couple of quotes that feed Father’s adventure in all of us and that exploring specifics is the gift of God, not codifying God’s life into systems or workbooks:

The best evidence of man’s fall is that every experience that overwhelms us with beauty becomes after a bit of time mere commonplace.  It is one of the saddest things. Heaven will not have that quality. God can enjoy every sunrise as if it is his first.

The greatest sin you can commit is to think that today is just like yesterday and that tomorrow will be just like today.

Reality is never found in organization and analysis. The more you abstract or define, the further away the thing itself gets from you. Systematic theology is God on the dissecting table. Anything worth talking about is greater than the sum of its parts.

Snowflakes are intimately beautiful and intimately individual. Each one is unique. The world is not a generalized world. No two apples are alike. If I call them “apples”, I have abstracted them and taken away a bit of each of them to find the lowest common denominator.

Everywhere I go, I look around to feel something. I thank the Lord for the freshness of life. All things are full of beauty. God made butterflies. They have a reality of beauty, as does everyone you meet.

I love how God makes himself known. That he would bring these notes and memories to me now means more than I can say. I have no idea what the future holds from here; Sara and I are still living each day in the beauty and adventure of what doors God might open on any day.

These notes remain on my desk today as a treasured reminder of his gift to me fifty years ago and perhaps a glimpse into what will yet be.

A White Rainbow

I didn’t know such a thing existed until I saw it in the wild.

Even then, it was difficult to believe my eyes. It looked like a rainbow, but it was completely white. It even had a fainter, secondary rainbow beneath the full one. The picture above doesn’t do it justice.

I found it while walking with Zoey a few weeks ago in the open land behind our neighborhood. It confused me at first, wondering if it really was a rainbow. We were in the early morning mist not far from Mt. Boney. As I crested a hill, I saw it stretched across the grasslands—a pure white arc of reflected light. Startled, I tried to figure out what it was while it accompanied us on our walk for almost fifteen minutes. I even got close to one end, but it stayed just out of reach until it vanished.

I didn’t know if this was a natural phenomenon or if a divine moment was afoot, like the burning bush. The air was electric, my heart quivering in the exquisite beauty of this unique rainbow and the God behind it. But what was I seeing? Was it real? The moment was exhilarating, and while I looked for some glorious revelation beyond the rainbow, none came.

I could think of little else on my way home, where I searched the web to see if there was such a thing as a white rainbow. To my delight, I found there was. They are also called fogbows or ghost rainbows. They are rare, only forming when the sun is low, and the droplets in the mist are not large enough to split the sunlight into the tell-tale colors of the rainbow.

No one I’ve shared this with has ever seen or heard of a white rainbow, which made me feel less like I had missed something in my science classes. Knowing it was a natural-occurring event that others had observed did not rob my wonder. On several occasions, I have seen something so surprising it takes my breath away—a shooting star across a dark, alpine sky, the immensity of the Grand Canyon, the brilliant colors of fall in New England, or a little green iridescent fish swimming by my face mask in Hawaii. This was that kind of experience.

Seeing a pure white rainbow for the first time still makes my heart happy—the glory of God shining through a thin space in his Creation. He seemed particularly close at hand, though I know he was no more present there with it than the many other times I’ve walked those fields.

That’s what I love about this fantastic Creation we live in. There is a ton of pain in this broken world, yet now and then, we catch a glimpse of extraordinary beauty that harkens our hearts to a better day yet to come. You can never be sure what you might see on any given day that can turn your heart to him in a fresh way.

That I would come across a white rainbow at that time in that place, felt like God playing with me a little bit.

And I love it when God plays with me.

Life Under the Mountain

What a joy to know that Father always watches over us no matter what life throws at us. He is a refuge as certain as the rising sun and as steady as a granite mountain.

One of the things that drew us to this neighborhood was the breathtaking views of Mt. Boney (just over Sara’s shoulder above) that we see down our street and from our backyard. It’s a constant reminder not only of the wonder of God’s Creation but also of the rock of refuge he is for whatever life might hurl at us.

Boney Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is 2,825 feet, also known as Boney Peak or Old Boney. It is the top section of a mass of volcanic rock, which scientists think solidified about 15 million years ago. It was later pushed up to its dominant position, overshadowing western Conejo Valley. The Chumash Native Americans have a long and deep spiritual history of interaction at and near the mountain, and their descendants consider the peak a sacred mountain.

As do I, though perhaps for different reasons. I’ve always been a mountain guy, much more than a beach dude. Now I have one rising over my neighborhood. I see it everywhere I walk and when we drive in and out of the community. It still takes my breath away and evokes the theme of Psalm 121. It has long been one of my favorites, and I play the first verse in my head each time and think about its meaning:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

The power is not in the mountain but in the God who made the mountain. That he will watch over and care for me is as certain as the presence of those mountains every morning. The same is true for you.

We are settling into our new home in Newbury Park, CA. The view of Old Boney is ever-changing as Sara and our dogs walk around the neighborhood or into the open area beneath the mountain. It’s hard not to take pictures, especially when the clouds and fog play with the hills, which it does almost every morning through May and June. One day, my friend Luis and I will take the trail to the top of that mountain.

Clouds and fog play with the mountains

We are growing increasingly settled here and connecting with new neighbors in a way we’ve never experienced before. Walking the streets is like a throwback to forty years ago when kids played in the streets and people conversed easily on the sidewalk. This is not your typical California neighborhood. The people are friendly and helpful and have gone out of their way to welcome us, one even bringing us a bouquet. They have graciously endured the noise and dust we’ve brought caused by the work we had to have done on this forty-year-old home. We are blessed to live on this cul-de-sac.

We have completed the work on the interior and are so over-the-moon delighted with how this space will reflect his peace to others. We are starting on Sara’s garden, which is a bit more dust and noise, but now our neighbors get to watch it take shape and are fascinated. And this time, Sara and I will not just view her garden out the back patio and across the creek; we will live in it, seeing it out every window. It seems clear Father has brought us here for this season in our lives, and we couldn’t be more excited about what this chapter might unfurl.

So, what’s ahead for us? Along with our ongoing conversations with people finding freedom in Father’s love, it looks like I’m going to be able to have some time to get back to the writing I have longed to do. I may pick up that sequel to the “Jake book,” which I had already started and put on hold when life took a surprising turn. I also feel a growing nudge to write a series of letters for the followers of Jesus who will be alive at the end of the age. I don’t know if this is that season, but I see many signs that point to the possibility. Whether we are approaching the end of days or not, Jesus invited us to live every day as if we were. I know, end times talk is the stuff of fear and disappointed expectations. I am not writing a prophecy but an invitation to find a life in Jesus strong enough to withstand the worst life can throw at you with the hope of his growing light guiding you through it.

And it’s likely we’re headed out on another RV trip this fall, probably through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas, before heading back to CA through New Mexico and Atlanta. Please let me know if you’re along that trail and want to get some people together to talk about living loved, trauma, healing, or following Jesus.

Also, I’ve got an outstanding promise to get to Austin, and I think this fall will do it. I may also speak at a conference for the Coalition Christian Colleges and Universities along with Arnita Taylor and Bob Prater about the concepts in our book, A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation. I also have an invitation to gather with some folks around Little Rock, so we’ll see what Father has in mind.

Wherever this next stage of our journey takes us, Sara and I know we will live under a mountain of God’s care, kindness, and direction. That same life is also available to you.

He Is Enough

Come away, my beloved!

There! Did you hear it?

Maybe it was just a few notes, but even a bit of it will begin to breathe hope into your exhausted heart. You’ll recognize it as the soothing melody inviting you beside his quiet waters where peace and tranquility will wash over your fear and grief. Linger there and lean away from anxious thoughts and angry voices, both internal and external.

His song carries a different rhythm—

He is enough.

You are deeply loved.

All of Creation is still in his hands.

There’s no fear or frustration in his song. Its soft and lilting tones draw you more deeply to his heart, where fear no longer thrives. It allows you to embrace a reality far more consequential than anything you see with your eyes or hear with your ears.

It calms your heart with the confidence that God is big enough for this, too.

They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song
of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God
Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.”

Excerpt from July 5 reading in Live Loved Free Full: 365 daily reflections to draw you deeper into the desires Jesus has for you
by Wayne Jacobsen

The Melody in the Wind

Can you hear it?

It is the Song of the Ages, still playing beneath the stresses and strains of this world, fresh from your Father’s heart. Regardless of all that’s going on around you, it invites you into his reality.

It’s not the loudest song in the wind. Fears and anger will scream louder. The rancor of political discord will drown it out, and it can easily be swallowed up by the cacophonous strains of anxiety that dominate these troubled times.

But beneath it all, his song still plays, as certain as the rising sun, more triumphant than the most exquisite symphony.

You won’t find it while groping for certainty in your imagined future. You won’t be able to focus on it while arguing your politics or putting your hope in yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies about a coming revival.

You have no idea what is to come, and neither do all those voices. The honest ones will tell you that. Your certainty now has to be in Jesus and him alone. All others are mere illusions, which may comfort for the moment but, when they fail you, how deep will that pain be? Circumstances, both favorable and unfavorable, will come and go.

The only refuge is to abandon yourself to the amazing love of a gracious Father and see his divine purpose unfolding around you. He will never let you down.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he
has become my salvation.
ISAIAH 12:2 (NIV)”\

Excerpt from July 4 reading in Live Loved Free Full: 365 daily reflections to draw you deeper into the desires Jesus has for you
by Wayne Jacobsen

Letting Jesus Fight for Us

If you haven’t listened to our current podcast about Vengeance, Mercy, and Justice, it’s something I’ve been noodling on for a few weeks. It started with this quote from Adam Smith, “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.” Too often, our society “lets off” those who are well-connected at the expense of those who have been the victims of their violence or greed. Such “mercy” only adds more pain to those they harmed.

And yet, mercy is what we want for ourselves and those we love, even if we have wronged and offended innocent people. And when we or someone we love suffers at the hands of another, our cry isn’t for mercy but justice. It’s strange, isn’t it? We want mercy for our failures and justice for those of others.

How does God sort through the wake of human pain and brokenness, dispensing both mercy and justice in a way that does not excuse the evil done or revictimize those wronged? Complex questions, to be sure. I don’t know how God does it or will do it when he sums up all things at the end of the age, but I trust him with it. Walking that line between justice and mercy is something we find challenging to do.

Even our cries for justice are often thinly veiled hopes for vengeance. We want people who cause heartache for others to suffer indescribable pain and call it justice. How often have we heard that “justice was served” by a murderer being put to death or dying by his own hand? But was it? Did it restore the life of the one they murdered or right the wrong they had done? Of course not.

The other day, I was talking about this with my friend, Luis, and he shared a recent dream. He was in a battle with a vicious hoard, primarily humans, but also mixed in were animal-human hybrids. He had expended all his ammunition, and still, they came toward him to destroy him. In the fury of adrenaline and the frustration of a losing battle, Jesus came to him in the dream.

“What do you want, vengeance or justice?” Jesus asked him with Luis breathless and terrified

All of his emotions screamed for vengeance in the rage of his own powerlessness. But with Jesus standing there, he knew that was best. “I want justice.”

“Then you better let me fight for you,” Jesus responded, and there the dream ended.

I’m not sure all that means, but as we talked about it, we realized how easily the adrenaline of our fear and anger spills over into feelings of vengeance. We have no idea where the dividing line is. Learning to live in his love will invite us to let Jesus fight for us. He has to show us the way where love can walk through the darkness without being exploited by those who are destructive and also know when he’s inviting us to lay our lives down for someone else’s good. Only he is wise enough to negotiate this space where mercy and justice are complements to each other, not competitors.

I love the instructions he gave his disciples: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” The economy of the coming kingdom is based on a mercy that doesn’t excuse evil nor allows us to be exploited by it. It’s a long process to learn the power of that statement and discover that his mercy is greater than any sacrifice of time, money, or life that we can offer him.

Who is sufficient for these things? We are not. How much more pain have we caused by trying to save ourselves or fix a situation that is beyond us? Of course, that does not mean we quietly suffer abuse or injustice. Allowing him to fight for us is not lying down and suffering the abuse of others. It means we will first find our refuge in him. He is the only one that can hold us in any storm, heal the damage we have suffered, and make up for what others have stolen from us. From there, he may well show us a way to resist those who seek to abuse us or help others find the justice they deserve. But now, we won’t be doing it with vengeance or our limited wisdom or power, but responding where love and justice dance together in his victory.

Micah invites us into that same reality: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). And I think the “with your God” phrase at the end applies to all of the previous invitations:

Do justice… with your God!

Love mercy… with your God!

Walk humbly… with your God!

Because, in fact, that’s the only way we can do those things.


Waves of Joy

It has been a while since I have had the chance to post some of my thoughts. The last month of settling into our new home has brought a host of challenges, decisions, and work. I’ve managed to keep up with The God Journey podcasts because I greatly enjoy those conversations. We just posted Episode 900 today about Vengeance, Mercy, and Justice. I never tire of what we learn as we explore the journey of Living Loved. The rest of the time, I’ve been handling a bit of correspondence and conversations as well as unpacking, discarding, and preparing a place for Sara and me in this next season of our lives. It is all going so incredibly well, though taking up far more time than I would have hoped. More on that next week, if time allows.

Catching up on some emails today, I ran into this one, which asks some questions that might interest others. This is from a friend in Hawaii:

I do have a few questions about your book, He Loves Me. In chapter 22, you write: “If you’ve ever known that glory, either just sitting in his presence communing with him or having just seen him use you to reveal himself to someone else, you know what I’m talking about. At such moments it seems time itself stands still. Waves of joy sweep across us, and it is so incredible that you feel if you were made just for that one moment, your life would have had a wealth of meaning. ‘I was made for this.’ And you were.”

How important is it for the daughter or son of Abba to experience what you call “waves of joy”…given that is a huge part of our design in Him? 

I never try to focus on a single “experience” as something essential or even something to seek. Walking with him manifests his glory in our lives in various ways, and how we sense them depends a lot on our personality. I don’t even know how each interprets “waves of joy,” and it may be very different from what those words mean to me. “Waves of joy” is the feeling I get when I’m at rest and enjoying his work in me, and it comes without me trying to manufacture it.

It is distracting for any of us to try to pursue an experience. Even the focus on doing so can quickly become a distraction. That sentence was for those who have experienced it, not to discourage people who haven’t. Instead of getting people focused on any specific manifestation, I try to help them recognize Father’s presence in the experiences they are already having. Surely he is making himself known to all of us in whatever way suits us best, though much of his work goes unrecognized by those distracted by the shiny things in the world or the darker corners of their hearts. I want to help people recognize him, however he is making himself known, not getting them focused on hoping he works in a specific way.

How is it that we settle for not living with as much joy as Papa, Jesus, and the Spirit are longing for in our lives? Your last chapter, “Living Loved,” is great and speaks to this, but I was wondering if you have any other insights.

There are lots of reasons for this. Lots of worldly distractions. Lots of unresolved pain that makes us try to self-medicate. Lots of disappointed expectations that God didn’t meet, even like the “experiences” above. However, I think it is also because we haven’t learned how to engage Father, Son, and Spirit as they make themselves known. It’s been easier to force people into religious performance, but those who have tried it grow discouraged because it doesn’t work.

Learning to live inside Father’s joy is to give up control of life as we want it to be and find God in the chaos of real life and how he is making himself known. Following him is the ultimate loss of control, and religious performance is the ultimate attempt to control God. A lot of people get discouraged and sadly give up.

Giving up the notion that we can control the relationship we have with God is a critical step in all of our journeys. He is the initiator; we are the responders. That’s because he knows best about everything, especially how to engage each of us and invite us to be at home with him.


Powerful Word in Times of Trouble

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Dave Coleman was one of those friends for me. He was a man of immense wisdom, rock-solid integrity, and deep love. I don’t know why he took a liking to me, but he’s one of those friends where the conversations always go deep, and the affection builds over a lifetime. He helped me discover how to live the life behind He Loves Me and was my co-author for So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore.

More importantly, he was there when I was betrayed by my co-pastor, giving me comfort and counsel that steered my heart into a better reality than I might have seen otherwise. He was there through the lawsuit over The Shack and encouraged me to find my home in the truth and not worry about the lies being told of me. And two summers ago, he held my heart through the rejection of a lifelong companion that came out of nowhere.

A few weeks after we talked, he sent me this prayer and admonishment. This was August 2021, still eight months before Sara’s trauma exploded. I wish he’d been there for that, too, but he passed away in November of that year.

May the Father, who is rich in mercy, speak kindly to your heart and comfort you with the thought that the only way out of this is to lay it at the foot of the cross…. with the prayer, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Do not allow your accusers to stifle in any way your message of God’s love. Just allow this experience to increase your urgency and your compassion and, above all, to deepen your dependency on His grace.

Those words have been taped to my computer since receiving them. There is so much in those words that have held my heart, even through the painful days of last spring, as if Dave were comforting me from the grave. Why am I sharing them today? Over the last few days, I’ve found myself sending them to almost a dozen people who needed to hear those exact words in their context. I figured others might need to hear a similar word for their heart. It is as true for you as it continues to be for me.

It’s a beautiful thing for the Father, who is rich in mercy, to speak kindly to your heart and to comfort you at the foot of the cross where the only way to liberate yourself is the prayer of forgiveness in recognition that most people doing hurtful things have no idea what’s motivating their behaviors. And when the Accuser, even in the other voices he uses, tries to erode your confidence in Jesus’s work in you, it’s time to lean in more with more urgency and depend on his grace.



Good news! The renovations on our home are nearing completion. This has taken a bit longer than we thought it would starting out, but this is Sara’s dream. To see it come together now as a place for us to live a life we love and to share our lives with others brings a profound sense of joy. Sorry, no pictures yet. We will in time, but much still needs to be cleaned up and completed.

So, we’ll be moving and settling in over the next couple of weeks. Don’t look for much new stuff here for a bit, though we hope to keep the podcast going on Friday, which is the best way to follow my life these days. All that God has been teaching us and doing in our hearts have found their way into my conversations with Kyle. I can’t begin to tell you how rich these last two years have been. They have had more trouble than we thought we could bear but also a profound grace and Presence that has held us safe and opened our hearts and minds to some unique insights that have touched us deeply.

Our journey over the past 16 months will come full circle next week. We’ve been through an exodus from trauma and a home we loved, took a sojourn through the wilderness of Sara’s trauma, and the healing that came out of it in our RV last fall and our apartment this winter and spring. We will soon move onto a new land of God’s promise—an oasis for our hearts and all who Jesus sends us in this season. We have no idea what any of that means, but we could not be more excited.


The Trajectory of Transformation

After four years and a dozen conversations, Jake is finally relishing the fruit of the transformation that has happened in him over that time. Their final conversation celebrates so many wonderful things I enjoy when people I know move away from Christianity as an obligation into a meaningful relationship with a Father who has genuine affection for them.

Some of my favorite observations of that trajectory shift are summed up in their last moments together:

It was easy to remember how frustrated John had made me in those early days. The more I listened to him the more my life kept falling apart.

John smiled. “I never told you to do one thing. I simply made some observations, asked some questions, and gave you some options. The choices were all yours.”

“I realize that, but they didn’t always turn out so well.”

“How could they? You had two desires that conflicted with one another.”

“What do you mean?”

“You had this incredible hunger to know God and follow him. But you also wanted to be circumstantially secure and well-liked. Those just aren’t compatible with following him. We are safe because he is with us, not because our circumstances are easy, and trying to get everyone to like you only made you less of a person than God made you to be. When you started following what God put in your heart, the other kingdom had to collapse. It was inevitable, if not enviable.”

This Sunday will be the last gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club, where a group of us are walking through So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. I have not read this book since I completed it in 2005, so I have been fascinated to remind myself what’s in that book. It’s also been a chance to relive working with Dave Coleman, my co-author, who passed away 18 months ago.

This book still contains the critical lessons I want people to know when they are ready to embark on a different journey—outside the walls of Christan obligation to discover an endearing, growing friendship with the loving Father. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring the themes most dear to my heart.

This has been a fluid group, and you’re welcome to join us even if our final time is your first one. We are gathering on Zoom this Sunday, May 21 at 1:30 pm PDT. We will cover the final chapter of the book, as well as open up to any questions or discoveries from anywhere in the book. Anyone is welcome to join us, even if it’s your first time. We will also stream it live on my Facebook Author Page, but if you want to be part of the conversation, you can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it.

You can view our last discussion on chapter 12 here.

The God-Shaped Life

It’s the most amazing process in the universe—how Jesus finds us in the twistedness of our sins, doubts, fears, and illusions. He rescues us not only by his death on the cross to cleanse our sins but also to invite us into a friendship with him that untwists what has been damaged in our hearts. Do you know what it’s like to live increasingly untwisted in a very twisted world? It is the essence of joy and freedom, even in the chaos of the brokenness of others around you. Instead of being pulled into darkness by them, you can offer them a way into the light.

As Sara and I read I Peter recently, a phrase jumped off the page at me and took my breath away. Here’s how Eugene Peterson in The Message translated what Peter writes about obedience to God: “Let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.”

Does that not capture your heart with great hope and promise?

Who wouldn’t want a life shaped by God’s life? I’ll tell you who—those whose views of God were shaped in religious settings where he was portrayed as the angry author of onerous rules and where holiness was a standard impossible to reach. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to get someone schooled in legalism to be excited about the possibilities of his blazing holiness. They think the fire comes when you haven’t done enough and that his holiness means we suppress who we are to follow the rules. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But for those of us who know him, we hunger to live in his reality, where his affection sets our hearts at rest, and we get to discover who he really made us to be. He lives without fear of the future and without a doubt that he will prevail over the darkness. He is the safest place for us to be at our most broken. Imagine what your life would be like if it were shaped by his life.

Over the last year on The God Journey, Kyle and I have been sorting out what a transformed life looks like. How does living loved change the way we think and engage the world around us? We’ve used a chart to consider how God reveals himself in our tangled-up mess and engages us in friendship. With every revelation of himself and his wisdom to each of us, he invites us to know him. As we learn to listen and believe him, he lifts us above the pain and chaos of this broken age so we can grasp God’s reality that pulses with joy and wonder.

In him, we begin to discover what it means to live inside the Trinity with Father, Son, and Spirit. We learn what love is by how he treats us and then watch it rises in our own hearts for him. We see how his work is so much better than our own efforts and to rest in God’s work and his agenda. And finally, we discover the playful wonder of how God interacts with us, even in our most painful moments. Like a father playing with his children, we become ever more endeared to him, laughing through our joys and weeping with him in our pain.

Now it becomes unthinkable not to believe him, and when we believe him, we will find ourselves following him. This is where we are drawn into a way of living shaped by God’s love, wisdom, and character. In the I Peter verse above, notice that God does the shaping. That’s not our job; we would be incapable of it anyway. We only do the letting. I don’t have to change anything about me to make God happy; all I need to do is let him have me, and that exchange over time will begin to transform me from the inside. This is not following the rules to make him happy; it’s enjoying his life as it liberates me from the illusions that twist my heart in knots. He is always drawing me into that life. My choice is either to go with him or resist him, replacing his wisdom with my own and letting my fears drive my actions.

Discovering how to let him draw us is such a different trailhead from all we were taught to do to try to earn God’s favor. This is where Christianity has gotten discipleship so incredibly backward by creating systems of thought, ritual, practice, or discipline and imposing that on how we think or live. It would be great if it worked, but it doesn’t. No matter how much it is based on truth, it is still an artificial construct like David trying to put on Saul’s armor. It never fits and won’t change us. Our cookie-cutter, mass-produced attempt to make Christians in the world continues to fail when we could instead invite people on a transformative journey with a loving Father.

Helping people discover how to recognize and respond to God’s fingerprints in their day, and his whispers in their hearts are the real work of discipleship. Finding a relaxed pace inside his love will do far more than our old zealous attempts to conform our lives to his ways through human effort. Learn to listen, believe, and follow as you grow to know him, and his fruit will be borne in your heart.

So what does that God-shaped life look like? I’m sure it can be described in many ways, but the following five terms express it well for me. I gleaned these from Scripture and from observing those in my life who have lived multiple decades in an awareness of his love. They provided an excellent completion to the above chart Kyle and I have been working through this year. (You can see the chart above or download it here. And, if you want to listen to those podcasts about that chart, you can do so by following the reverse of the list here. These would make a good study for personal enrichment or even small-group study.)

Here are those five attributes that give evidence of a God-shaped life:

  • Sincere Love — Not flattery, pretense, or mere niceness, but the heartfelt impulse concern for those you’re engaging and the ability to help them discover what’s true as much as their hearts will allow.
  • Resilient Trust — A growing confidence in God’s goodness and faithfulness through the chaos and disappointments of life. Everything that comes at us is an opportunity to discover what he is doing in it, knowing he has the best in mind. It may ebb when challenged, but it always comes back stronger.
  • Generous Compassion — An awareness of the needs of others, especially those on the margins, that touches our hearts and opens the doors to make available our time, emotional support, and physical resources available to others.
  • Tender Authenticity — Never less than honest, but always in a form best able to find access to another’s heart.
  • Bold Humility — Never lording over, never pressuring anyone to accept our view, but also not shying back from stating the truth plainly, even with people who might take offense to it.

Please keep in mind that this is not a list of the ways we’re supposed to behave or traits we are supposed to mimic. The wonderful thing about the God-shaped life is these attributes increasingly emerge in you as you grow freer in his love. You cannot produce these characteristics by your own ingenuity. They can’t be taught in a seminar or codified into a workbook. This is the fruit that grows out of a life spent in God’s presence, discovering who he really is and how he engages you and the world around you.

We have covered the first two characteristics on The God Journey and will cover the remaining three in the next few weeks. I hope you find them helpful to your journey.


Some other items of interest:

Sara and I finally have a move-in date on our remodeled home. We’ll be moving back to Newbury Park on May 30 and setting up our house, where Sara plans an extraordinary garden. And the dogs will love having a yard again. We can’t wait to share this home with others who want to come hang out with us.

The final gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club will be held Sunday, May 21, at 1:30 pm PDT. We will cover the final chapter of the book, as well as open up to any questions or discoveries from anywhere in the book. Anyone is welcome to join us, even if it’s your first time. We will also stream it live on my Facebook Author Page, but if you want to be part of the conversation, you can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it. You can view our last discussion on chapter 12 here.

Next up, we’ll be starting a Book Club for He Loves Me over the summer. Stay tuned for details.

Finding Our Connection with God

“They led me into a relationship with God that I’ve only dreamt about.”

I can’t tell you how much those words mean to me. That’s the reason for all the writing and podcasts I have done over the years, so that someone else can find their way into an intimate connection with God that changes the trajectory of their lives. I love reading those words; they make my heart soar. That’s the hunger God has put deep inside us and what religion so often fails to let us experience.

I also get emails from those who say they cannot sense his presence or recognize his love for them even though they have sought it over many years. I hurt with them as much as I rejoice with those who do find that connection. I don’t think God is at fault here, nor that the person seeking is unworthy in some way of him. I have come to conclude that it is not as easy a connection to make as many have been led to believe. Indeed, God is doing everything from his end. But so much from our end makes it difficult—misplaced expectations, unresolved trauma, delusions of darkness, not having someone who can help, and trying to find him through self-effort and discipline.

However, I have seen God overcome all these things for people who had almost given up hope. It takes a lot to relax enough on the inside to affirm what Father is already doing to make that connection with us. No matter how desperately we try, we can’t be disciplined enough or knowledgeable enough to earn our way into it. This relationship is a reality we relax into, a gift that Father gives as we make ourselves available to him. Keep letting your heart lay before him, and be patient as he makes these connections. And don’t be afraid to get help from those you know who are finding their life in him.

The email I quoted above came from a young woman I first met before she was in high school as I shared some time with her family in New England. You have no idea what it meant to me that she would write and touch on so many things that I also want to share with you. I received it after Sara and I returned from Hawaii to celebrate our upcoming anniversary and all God has done this last year. We had a beautiful time together and even spent a day in Honolulu with a congregation that has been studying He Loves Me. What a day with the people there! I love those conversations so much, and having Sara in them, sharing from her journey, makes them all that much sweeter.

And the time Sara and I had alone together was so precious, and I would say even sacred, for reasons I share on the podcast this Friday.

But let me share this email with you as we discover what helped her make that connection. Also, I want to respond to it with some information I think others will enjoy as well. So much of what she wrote to me touches on the critical things in my life these days and some things I would love to update many of my readers.

First, I want to thank you both for sharing your story over this past year. I know sharing it has changed the lives of many in such an incredibly positive way. 

Sara’s courage to share her story and its impact on our marriage has borne incredible fruit worldwide. Her vulnerability opened a wide door for others to deal with long-buried trauma in their own lives. We are continually amazed and blessed by the emails we receive and the conversations we have with people taking a serious look at the brokenness in their lives and seeing where Jesus might be in it for them. And if her story encourages you to lean more closely into Jesus to heal some unresolved trauma, that’s awesome. Be patient with the process. It is scary. It may take a while, but the rewards of freedom are worth every bit of it. 

I’ve been listening to your podcast along with the My Friend Luis podcast since 2021 and it’s led me into a relationship with God that I’ve only dreamt about. So thank you for that! 

If you’ve not listened to the My Friend Luis podcast or stayed up with our Redeeming Love story at The God Journey, you might want to go back and catch those. They helped her make that connection, and hearing stories of how God has connected with others can help us recognize him in our own story if we don’t try to get him to do it the same way with us as he did for them. They are two powerful stories of God intervening in dark places in very different ways to unfold his glory and bring his freedom. We all have a story like this going on in our own hearts, and I love that these were catalysts for this young woman to find the relationship she dreamed about.

I realize I have updated you on Luis for some time. I will write more in an upcoming post, but you can rest assured that Jesus continues to engage him over some of the residues of his past and draw him into greater freedom. He continues to work with young men and women, helping rescue them from trouble and offering them a life lived in Jesus’s love. His application for amnesty and legal status in the U.S. is still pending. This is a laborious process. Your prayers and support for his work with at-risk youth are deeply appreciated.

Like Sara, I have a playlist of songs on my phone from over the years where I felt a connection with a lyric or lyrics. I was recently questioning whether those lyrics that were speaking to me were actually God or just in my head. The next day, I was listening to your podcast, and Sara shared the lyrics that have recently connected with her. I guess I got my answer. 

I’m glad you did. I love the creative ways God speaks to us—through song, Scripture, conversations, nature, and inner thoughts. Song lyrics can powerfully mirror the insights he wants us to see. Sara has a twelve-year song list that reflects God’s thoughts to her through this season of her journey. It’s spectacular, and each is an excellent reminder of his truth as it continues to win her heart over the illusions of trauma. For those still seeking this connection, discover how God is making himself known to you and explore him there. He may be using unconventional ways to open your heart to his reality.

About a month ago, I had a dream that God opened a window for me to look through and I saw a beautiful landscape with golden colors and trees. Next to the window there was writing that described it as The Garden of Eden and God said, “It’s time.”  Since then, I have felt God’s presence significantly more than I ever have in my life. From sitting with this for a while, I think it may also relate to the it’s time that you heard in regards to God’s children being revealed. 

Her words were such an encouragement to me, and I hope to you. We will revisit these words, as I did in a recent blog. Nothing is more critical now than people learning to embrace an affection-based relationship with God that transforms them so that they reveal his glory in the world without trying. For too long, the wrong people who promote themselves and their brand have twisted God’s image to build their own following. Making people dependent on them or their message, they have supplanted Jesus’ influence in the lives of his followers. Kevin Smith of Australia told me years ago that in these days, Jesus is taking his church back to himself, inviting his followers to know him and follow him instead of those who claim to be his surrogates.

Now more than ever, it is time to lean in close, forsake our misplaced confidence in self-effort, and learn how to ride the wind of his Spirit, letting his life and light unfold in us and reflect from us to a world so hungry for something real.

Some other items of interest:

I just found out you can order the Kindle version of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore for $1.99 today only at eBook Daily.

The Israel tour Sara and I are sponsoring next winter is full and has a significant waitlist. I’m sorry if you wanted to go and didn’t get in on this trip. I’m excited about those who are going.

However, the final gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club will be held Sunday, May 21, at 1:30 pm PDT. We will cover the final chapter of the book, as well as open up to any questions or discoveries from anywhere in the book. Anyone is welcome to join us, even if it’s your first time. We will also stream it live on my Facebook Author Page, but if you want to be part of the conversation, you can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it. You can view our last discussion on chapter 12 here.

There have been many requests for a book discussion through He Loves Me when this concludes. I am excited to do that and will probably start sometime in June. Stay tuned for more details.

A Love Stronger than Our Greatest Fear

Today, Sara and I leave for a bit of a working vacation out to Hawaii. We’ll be sharing with a fellowship in Honolulu next Sunday (April 30), but we’ll mostly be on Maui, savoring God’s work in this last season of our lives and preparing our hearts for what lies ahead.

Before we go, I wanted to leave you with this amazing dream, which can be of great encouragement when you find yourself facing one of your greatest fears. It was sent to me by a good friend, Harvey Mast, who lives in Ohio. He had this dream nearly four years ago while volunteering with a ministry helping women who had been sexually trafficked. He sent it to me recently, and it deeply touched me. It can be interpreted at so many levels and can redirect our focus to the only thing that matters in times of fear. With his permission, I’m publishing an edited version to see what Father might want to reveal to you.

(And my dear sisters, please don’t be put off by this male-as-rescuer story. I know that is a struggle for some since it can be a tiresome cliché. However, Harvey is a man, and this is his dream. I hope you can put yourself in the same place of fighting through your worst fears to help others trapped in theirs, male or female.)

I stood with a group of friends in front of a castle. This was a magical castle, but dark magic ruled inside. There, your worst fears become your reality. Two young girls had wandered into that castle decades ago, and now fear held them captive at the top of the tallest tower where it was so dark no light could penetrate except the warmth of real love.

Many well-meaning, brave young men had tried to rescue the princesses over the years, but all had failed. Entering two at a time, they went to the winding staircase with their romantic ideas of love. Eventually, their fears would overwhelm them, and their screams would echo through the castle as they made a hasty retreat.

With each failed attempt, the lowest section of the staircase would crumble to ruin. Only time would repair the stairs enough to try again, which could often take up to ten years.

As we stood at the castle entrance, time was mending the last step after another failed attempt. “Who will go now?” The question reverberated off the walls. A great silence fell on the crowd. Would anyone risk their greatest fears and another ten years in hopes of rescuing the two lost princesses? It would take two, for each girl needed a separate escort out.

I looked around for someone else to step forward and face his worst fears for the love of another. To my dismay, no one did. Tears began to form in my eyes as I thought about those two young girls trapped inside, and I couldn’t stop myself from stepping forward. “I will go,” I said and waited for another to join me on this quest. Would the love of my Father burning inside me be greater than my greatest fears? I believed it was true, but this would test that for sure.

Soon, a good friend stepped forward to go with me. We entered the castle and started climbing the staircase like many others had. The first fear that came was the fear of failure. “What if we fail and these precious little girls are lost in this hell for another ten years?” I halted at this thought, and this gripping fear weighed heavy on me. I could feel myself shrinking in size.

I continued climbing, now a bit slower. “Who am I to think I could rescue one of them?” was my next fear. I had all but stopped now, and the castle walls seemed to close in on me. “I don’t even know them; what if they are afraid of me?”

Soon I was standing still, paralyzed by these gripping fears. I could no longer see anything in the pitch-black air, not even my friend I knew was beside me. I could physically feel the darkness.

“Father, help me,” my heart whispered as fear roiled inside.

Why did I even come? Oh yes, it was his love inside my heart for those girls. I could feel that warmth again, still burning in my chest. As I paused, I looked down at my feet, hoping to see the next step. I could see it. A warm glow about my feet illuminated the step before me, and I knew this was the way forward. As I took that step, another appeared and another, and before long, we were moving upward again.

Every fear I had ever faced, and even new ones, seem came at us with a vengeance the further we progressed. My focus had shifted to the warmth of His love inside of me, and it was more significant than all the dangers surrounding us. Eventually, we could hear the girls’ voices as we approached the tower’s upper levels. We called out to them, explaining that we were coming and encouraging them to hold on to hope. As we did, this hope grew in us as well. Our pace quickened.

Soon, we reached the top of the staircase and found the room that imprisoned them. We could hear them but not see them until we ran into them in the darkness. We exchanged names, and the glow brightened slightly. I could see one was of Asian descent. She looked up into my eyes and spoke her greatest fear. “How do I know I can trust you?”

An answer came out of my mouth before I had time to filter it. “Why, it’s simple; this is where love led me. Right here.”

“To me?”

“You needed help, didn’t you?” Her fear receded slightly as she hugged me around my waist with her tiny arms.

But they were both still afraid to leave. Their fears had captured them and did not want to face them again in this horrible place. We tried to reason with them, assuring them we would be with them the entire way, but they were reluctant. We could only invite them, realizing we may very well be going back down alone. I don’t know how I would have been able to leave them alone in this place.

We explained that this warm light around our feet was the Father’s true love’s light coming from within us. He is the Father of Light, and he loved all of us so extravagantly. It had shown us the way step by step as we made our ascent and was always greater than our greatest fears.

Though they, too, would be facing their greatest fears as we descended the staircase, they could also have the warmth of his light. They both agreed to come with us if they could walk alongside one of us and learn to focus on love.

“Of course,” we answered.

One step at a time, we made our way downward. Fear assailed each of us unrelentingly, but we simply followed the glowing warmth until we found our way out of the castle.

The girls, whom we thought to be around ten years old when we met them, transformed to their rightful ages as they crossed the threshold into the sunlight.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the voices that scream at you from the uncertain darkness, focus on the warmth of Jesus’s love already inside you and see what next step illuminates for you. Then you, too, will discover that Father’s affection is stronger than our greatest fear. It’s a journey that will not only set you free inside from anything this life can throw at you, but it will also show you how to be a part of God’s redemptive work for others.

We all know the power of fear and how impossible it is to ignore it or manufacture more trust through our own strength. And we all need someone to go with us, not just telling us to “trust more”, but willing to sit alongside us as we learn to let love rule our hearts.

And when you need help, follow this advice from a young woman whose book I am reading at the moment, Cole Arthur Riley’s This Here Flesh:

Find those who tell you, “Do not be afraid,” yet stay close enough to tremble with you. This is a love.

It truly is…

Pretense Is No Refuge

This is what I struggle with most for those who claim to follow Christ and yet have no compassion for those who have wandered through difficult places. In an email last week, a former pastor who has battled alcohol addiction for decades added this comment at the end of the email:

You also have no idea how much your acceptance and compassion for my addiction was received. I have only shared with two nonaddicts outside of family in 30 plus years of recovery as I learned most do not take it well.  Thank you for helping me in my listening journey.

Here’s what I wrote him back:

It saddens me that those who claim to follow Jesus can’t hold each other’s pain and weakness with love and compassion. That means they are either unaware of their own or they don’t know how to be compassionate to themselves. Pretense is their refuge, and that’s a pretty sad place to live.

I understand his reluctance to share that story with people who aren’t ready to hold it. That’s just wise. But I’m glad he shared it with me, and I could appreciate the courage it took to face his addiction and let God walk him into freedom. It wasn’t an easy road; it rarely is.

His struggle with addiction does not diminish him in the least as a follower of Jesus; it just makes his story all the more extraordinary. I’m sorry that he had to go through such deep waters, but who wouldn’t want to celebrate the fruit of that journey with him?

Compassion is what God pours into our brokenness. When you struggle, drink fully of his compassion, and then you’ll be able to naturally share that same compassion with others without having to manufacture it.


If you want to join us for the next Jake Colsen Book Club gathering, it will be held this Saturday, April 22, at 1:30 pm PDT. We will stream it live on my Facebook Author Page, but if you want to be part of the conversation, you can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it.

And the following day, we’ll have another conversation about Wrestling with Trauma on Sunday, April 23, at 10:30 am PDT. Among other things, we will explore what it means to let go of the hurtful things that have happened to us and the process God uses to help us find out how. Sara shared that in a recent podcast if you haven’t heard it. To join us, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll limit it to the first twelve who request a link.

His Children Revealed

This weekend I spoke at a conference in Kenya.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to travel there to be with them personally, but they asked if I would send a video of any word I might to encourage the hundreds of pastors gathering in Kitale last weekend.

If you want to see the video, you can view it here.

Though I don’t refer to it in this video, the seeds for what I shared with the pastors in Kenya began two years ago as I stood in the burn scar of a wildfire that consumed more than 400,000 acres of alpine forest in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Scanning the hillsides for miles in the distance, I could not see one speck of greenery in the burgeoning light of spring. Overwhelmed by the devastation, something rose in my heart over the next few days. It was a drumbeat I could not ignore: “It’s time!”

As I pondered that thought over the next few days, I was drawn to the passage in Romans 8 about the Creation groaning in frustration for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed on the earth. I shared that in a short video I recorded from the burn scar a few days later.

How has that weathered the last two years? It has only grown in me with all the calamities in the world and what God has been shifting in my heart, even through the shock of last year. My prayers still reverberate with the desire for the sons and daughters to grow to know Father to be revealed in the world. I see that happening as many find healing and transformation inside his love. Unfortunately, I also see the love of many Christians growing cold as they react to those in the world they think victimize them. Growing increasingly angry and judgmental, they are unable to extend compassion to those who seem lost in the illusions of darkness.

It is time for the children of God to be revealed on the earth, letting God draw a clear distinction between those who only practice their religion for personal gain and those who are being drawn into a life of love shaped by God’s life. He is equipping a people for these days who are learning how to recognize God’s love and helping others to do the same. They are learning to recognize his leading and helping others do the same. And are also learning to love whomever God brings to them and help others to do the same. That’s what my heart was for those Kenyan men and women this weekend, and it’s where my heart beats these days in so many other areas.

They are not drawing attention to themselves or their beliefs on social media or trying to build a brand about love. They are living out his compassion, one person, one conversation, one engagement at a time, without having to work at it. Empathy is becoming so infused with their person; it’s just how they live.

That’s the revelation the world waits for—men and women, young and old, of all races and ethnicities, who embrace God’s compassion for their own hearts and reflect it with ease into the world.


On another note, Sara and I will be in Honolulu, HI, on Sunday, April 30, at the Bluewater Mission Church, 1114 Mona St., Honolulu, HI, 96821. We’ll begin at 2:20 pm, and if you’re in the area, you are welcome to join us. For most of our time in Hawaii, we will be on the island of Maui if anyone wants to connect with us there.

Also, the next gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club is this Saturday, April 22, at 1:30 pm PDT. We will stream it live on my Facebook Author Page, but if you want to be part of the conversation, you can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it.

And our next Wrestling with Trauma conversation will meet next Sunday, April 23, at 10:30 am PDT.  Among other things, we’re going to explore what it means to let go of the hurtful things that have happened to us and the process God uses to help us find out how. Sara shared that in a recent podcast if you haven’t heard it. If you’d like to join us, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link.