Who Is He Really?

January 5 

Scripture paints two seemingly contradictory portraits of God. As the holy God, he is shown to be unapproachable in his purity, willing to mete out unspeakable torment on his Son, and ready to consign the unrepentant to eternal agony in hell. He is also portrayed as a tender Father, so loving that the most wayward sinner could run to his side in absolute safety and find forgiveness and mercy.

If you cannot resolve these images into a coherent view of God, you will end up playing the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not game. Like the schizophrenic child of an abusive father, you’ll never be certain which God you’ll meet on a given day—the one who wants to scoop you up in his arms with laughter, or the one who ignores or punishes you for reasons you don’t understand.

Here is why so few believers ever discover the depths of friendship God has offered to them. They see God’s holiness as a contradiction to his tenderness. Unable to reconcile the two, fear wins out, and intimacy with him is forfeit. Vacillating between loving him and fearing him will keep you from ever learning to trust him.

You cannot love what you fear, and you will not fear what you love.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.

Romans 8:15 (NIV)

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This reflection is taken from Wayne Jacobsen’s new book, Live Loved Free Full. Since the delivery of the print edition was delayed due to COVID issues in production, we are posting daily here until it is available.  The e-book is already out on Kindle if you prefer that version.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your hardback copy yet, you can do so here.

 

A Father Like No Other

January 4 – A Father Like No Other

God’s desire for you since the first day of Creation was to invite you past your fear of him, so you can discover what it means to love him. He offers you an intimate friendship that will transform you as he becomes the all-consuming passion of your life.

He will be the voice that steers you through every situation, the peace that sets your heart at rest in trouble, and the power that holds you up in the storm. He wants to be closer than your dearest friend and more faithful than any human being.

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

It would be if it were your idea. It was his, however, long before you even considered it. He’s the one who offered to be your loving Father—loving you and caring for you in ways no earthly father ever could.

He knows you better than you know yourself; he loves you more than anyone ever has; he knows that when you relax into that reality, you will discover that all of your fears, including your fear of him, will be destroyed.

But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 (NIV)

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This reflection is taken from Wayne Jacobsen’s new book, Live Loved Free Full. Since the delivery of the print edition was delayed due to COVID issues in production, we are posting daily here until it is available.  The e-book is already out on Kindle if you prefer that version.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your hardback copy yet, you can do so here.

 

There’s No Fear in Love

January 3 – There’s No Fear in Love

Fear and love cannot exist side by side in the human heart. Though the Psalmist tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, it is only the beginning.

John discovered that perfect love casts out fear and that true wisdom is gained inside of your growing confidence in his affection. If you don’t love God, you would be well served to fear him. Once, however, you learn what it really means to love him, you will never need to fear him again.

As you grow secure in his love, you will come to know who God is. And knowing him, you will want to be like him. Discover that, and your calamities will never again drive you to question God’s concern for you or whether you’ve done enough to merit his affection.

Instead of fearing he has turned his back on you, you will be able to rest in his love in the moments you need him most.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear . . .

1 John 4:18 (NIV)

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This reflection is taken from Wayne Jacobsen’s new book, Live Loved Free Full. Since the delivery of the print edition was delayed due to COVID issues in production, we are posting daily here until it is available.  The e-book is already out on Kindle if you prefer that version.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your hardback copy yet, you can do so here.

Settle for No Substitutes

January 2 – Settle for No Substitutes

Isn’t the record of most of our lives littered with significant periods where we wandered away from his love, seeking other things to carry our spiritual life? 

Devoid of his presence, we are hounded by fear, guilt, and the delusion that we can earn that love by just trying harder. So easily, we find ourselves living with love-substitutes. We double our efforts to be responsible, committed, or disciplined. But these efforts don’t produce love; they can only flow out of it.

If the Lord’s love seems distant for you, let him draw you back to himself. Find a quiet place and wait in silence before him. He will rekindle your affection. Don’t try to go on without it. God never intended you to live even one day outside the wonder of his love. And don’t make the mistake of trying to earn it, either. 

You can’t earn points with someone who is no longer keeping score. Jesus already filled out your card with maximum points. You don’t have to earn what he has already freely given; you simply get to receive it.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

1 John 3:1 (NIV)

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This reflection is taken from Wayne Jacobsen’s new book, Live Loved Free Full. Since the delivery of the print edition was delayed due to COVID issues in production, we are posting daily here until it is available.  The e-book is already out on Kindle if you prefer that version.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your hardback copy yet, you can do so here.

 

 

First Love

Since the delivery of the print edition of my new devotional book, Live Loved Free Full was delayed due to COVID issues in production, I will be posting the daily readings here until it is available.  The e-book is already out on Kindle if you prefer that version. I’m sorry we couldn’t get you this book as it was promised to us.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you can do so here.

 

January 1 

God never intended you to move on from there.

You remember that first moment you knew God loved you? Do you recall the euphoria of knowing that the Almighty God who spoke worlds into existence took note of you too, and even genuinely cared about you and every event in your life?

If you are like most, that reality probably became clear to you in the midst of great pain or failure. His love captured your heart. Everything about the world around you paled in comparison to him. Every day was an adventure. Even through the most challenging circumstances, you knew you were safe in his care and that all your struggles were just part of a larger plan.

All he wants is for you to remain there or, if you’ve left it, to return there. That’s why Scripture calls it first love. We were never meant to leave that place but to live in its joy every day.

First love is not how much you loved him on that day—first love is how much he loved you then, and how much he still loves you today.

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.

John 15:9–10 (MSG)

What the World Needs Now

2020 was a disaster on so many levels, the greatest of which was a worldwide pandemic that we couldn’t even take on as a common enemy with a united front. Instead, we politicized it with everyone did what was right in their own eyes without regard for a greater common good.

So, half our population thinks the pandemic is overblown and carelessly spreads it to others by refusing to obey the CDC guidelines for limiting travel, masking, maintaining social distance, and avoiding indoor gatherings through this holiday season. I know the odds are in your favor that you probably won’t get it, and even if you do, you will recover quickly. Too often, however, the odds catch up with people who live carelessly, either for them or someone they love. The virus offered us the opportunity to lay down our lives for others, and so far, we seem to be failing that test.

And support measures by some governors who overreached their authority by unnecessarily closing all businesses of a certain type and not letting business owners find ways to continue their business with proper safety measures. If we’d all been able to respect social distancing recommendations, I wonder how many more businesses could have stayed open, but people wanted to party, gather in large groups, and hang out indoors. How can you trust a government that lies to us for three months that masks won’t protect you when they knew it wasn’t true?  And why does the federal government keep sending stimulus money even to those who have kept their jobs and maintained their incomes instead of targeting those who actually lost their income? It’s chaos out there, but you can still live in the genuine peace that makes no circumstantial sense.

Now, as we enter 2021, what does the world need most from you?

More than ever, our world needs an army of people who will live generously in a world dominated by the selfish and the arrogant. I know it’s hard when everyone else looks out for their own self-interest, and you feel you’ll get overrun by them. A couple of weeks ago, I talked with a friend about living free of the pain of our own self-centered thinking on a podcast. That conversation continues to flow into places in my heart that is setting me freer in his love. You can only afford to learn selflessness when you are confident Father’s love has got your back.

And by living generously, here’s some of what I think of…

  • Asking God to show you ways to care about the marginalized people around you. Spend a bit of each day putting yourself in their shoes and asking how you would want someone to respond to you.
  • Passing your stimulus check on to those in need if you have maintained your income through this pandemic. If you don’t know anyone, give it to a group providing food for those who don’t have it.
  • Sharing whatever you have with those around you—extra resources, a virtual shoulder to cry on if they need comfort, an unexpected phone call just to check on them, etc.
  • Putting on a mask when you’re around others, even if you think it isn’t necessary, just because it sets them at ease.
  • Not taking offense even to the selfish and toxic people around you who want to start an argument.  Just move to a safe distance and love them as best you can from there.
  • Taking the vaccine when it is offered to you, even if you’re afraid it may have side effects. Jesus took the cross for you, knowing the side-effects were torture and certain death. The vaccine is the only way to get to herd immunity without millions of others needlessly dying. (And please don’t send me your anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. I don’t buy the fact that thousands of medical professionals, the same ones I went to for heart surgery and others I know used for cancer, would be involved in a deception like this to wreak mayhem on the populace for no apparent reason.)
  • When you do something risky, like flying or getting caught in a large crowd, quarantine yourself for 14 days, especially from elderly and high-risk people.
  • Learning the joy of not taking offense even when people mistreat you. Keep loving as best you can.
  • Don’t try to fix people around you; it will only push them deeper into their delusion or brokenness.

You may have different ideas. Just remember living generously is not primarily following a checklist; it’s a different way of navigating the world. Every day ask yourself what generosity would lead you to do. Learn the joy of an others-focused life, and even if the world kills you for it, you will have lived a life worth living.

The best thing about living generously is that no one can make you do it. Our default setting seems to be doing whatever we think is best for us. Expanding our perspective to do what’s best for others around us is a major shift of thought. If you don’t choose it you’ll never discover its joy.

May you all have a really blessed New Year, but looking for ways to bless others with the gift of grace Father has given you,

_____________

Live Loved Free Full

The e-book is out on Kindle, but release of my new devotional book has been delayed until mid-January due to some issues with the virus at the printing plant.  But starting on Friday, January 1, I’ll be posting the first devotionals online so you can read them if you want to start at the beginning. However, this book is not written in that kind of order, so you can start whenever you want throughout the year. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you can do so here.

Don’t Miss This

Our last two podcasts of 2020 were two of the best of the year, focusing on how to become increasingly one with love. That conversation is still re-writing wonderful things in my own heart and changing how I live in the world. If these are the only podcasts you listen to this year at The God Journey, you will find them well worth your time.

A Head’s Up

Early this year, Wayne will release a new limited series podcast called My Friend Luis. In 10 immersive episodes, you will hear the story of Luis’ life growing up in an impoverished village in Mexico and the dramatic story of how God revealed his love to Luis on the worst night of his twenty-one-year-old life after he had been assaulted by police officers and then swept into a canal filled with sewage.

The story continues with how he has lived in the U.S. and how God brought him and Wayne together in a friendship that has changed the trajectory of both of their lives.  It is an incredible story of struggle, friendship, and overwhelming grace. Look for it around mid-January.

Let Your Soul Feel Its Worth

I posted this thought last year, and it came back to me repeatedly throughout the year as people would write and tell me how it had changed the trajectory of their lives. Through it, they recognized how unworthy they felt in their own failures and how distant from the very love that could transform them. As they began to talk to Jesus about this, he led them to a place where he could make himself known to them. Then they could begin to learn to relax into his reality. Sin, failure, or brokenness doesn’t make you less worthy of love, only more in need of it.

And, no, this is not the arrogant God-is-lucky-to-have-me sense of worth. It’s the humbling, contrite, joyful recognition that despite all that I’ve done and all that’s twisted in me, he delights in me as his child and loves me more deeply than any human ever has or ever will.

And the only way to know that is when he appears to you. I know a song lyric is not Scripture, but this one sums up so much of what Scripture seeks to say.  So, as my Christmas gift to so many of our friends around the world, I post it again.  May it bear even more fruit in 2021.

O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song and my favorite line in it is this:  “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

Ever since Eden’s Fall, the hardest belief for many to sustain, especially in times of struggle and failure is that they are worthy of God’s love and affection. So often we are overwhelmed by failure and feel so alone in our struggles that it seems sometimes as if no one cares, and too often God most of all. But that’s the illusion that pushes our world into the darkness.

Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.

God is not ever inactive toward us—unrecognized perhaps, but never uninvolved and he is always working to beckon us out of the darkness and into the joy of his light. What Sara and I want those three precious children in the picture above to know more than anything else is that they are beloved children of a gracious Father. They are worthy of his love, no matter what struggle they go through, whatever mistake they make, and in spite of every whisper of darkness into their ears.

It’s what we want everyone to know. He appeared in our world because we were worthy of love and to prove it he would spend his own life to rescue us from all that darkness twists or destroys in us. He came to redeem us because we were worth it to him.

You!  You are worth everything to him. What I love about the lyric above is that we come to know that worth when he appears. That’s when it all makes sense, and that’s not just about his coming 2000 years ago, but how he wants to make himself known to you today. When you behold him then your soul knows its worth. We are deeply loved and deeply cherished simply for who we are.

If you need a reminder of that, steal away for some alone-time over the next couple of days. Find a quiet place and ask him to reveal himself to you. Wait in the quiet until his reality begins to bubble up in your soul. We used to sing an old chorus, “There is none like you. No one else can touch my heart like you do. I could search for all eternity long and find, there is none like you.” It is such a rich chorus to sing to God.

But if you could for just a moment, imagine God singing those words to you. Read (or sing) them again and this time put those words onto God’s lips toward you. That’s just as true. And when you come to know that, your soul too will feel its worth.

Then every night can be a holy night!

We are so blessed to have so many connections with so many people around the world. During this season, we are grateful for every life that God has given us to know, every person whose path we have crossed, and those who have let us walk beside them in their own spiritual journey.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and may the New Year bring you an abundance of him and a spirit of selflessness to serve the world in this time of extremity,

Wayne and Sara

Wayne’s New Book Delayed

I was just notified late Friday that my new book. Live Loved Free Full will not be available by the end of the year as we were originally promised. We knew we were on a tight timeline to get this out by January, and unfortunately, it didn’t all come together as we had hoped.

Our printer is blaming the delay on health restrictions due to the coronavirus, an influx of books late in the year, and now their holiday schedule. I am very sorry to tell you that our release date has now been pushed from December 22, 202o to January 15, 2021.  I know that’s particularly disappointing to those looking forward to starting it on January 1 and those who were giving it as a Christmas gift this year.  I’m a bit bummed for you, too, but we will do what we can to make up for the delay.

Fortunately, the reflections in this book don’t have to be read in order starting January 1. You can really start any time during the year and follow the cycle around since the book doesn’t build from a beginning point to an endpoint. I hope this could be a treasure to comb through year after year as it helps center your heart daily in the realities that matter most. However, for those who wanted to start on January 1, I will post the devotionals on the blog until the book comes out.  I’m not sure how we’ll do that yet. We may post one each day or post a few at a time, but you will have access to them.

And, if you bought it for someone as a Christmas gift, here is a coupon you can print out and wrap for them, so they will know it will soon be on its way.

Finally, I want to thank those of you on my Launch Team who will help us get the word out when the book is available.  I’m also deeply touched by the comments some of our advance readers have made about the book. This is what I had hoped these reflections would do. We can still use more people if you would be willing to help us get the word out.

 

 

You Won’t Want to Miss This

I don’t expect my closest friends to listen to all 781 of the podcasts I’ve recorded, or even most of them. I don’t expect them to listen week after week, and I find it awkward when someone apologizes to me for not keeping up with the podcasts. Most people over our fifteen-year run listen for a few months or years to find the trailhead of their own God Journey and then move on to other things. I’m fine with that. I do this podcast because I enjoy the conversations I stumble into, not as an obligation for people to keep up with but bless people in whatever season they find themselves.

That said, however, I don’t want anyone to miss the most recent one. It’s called Becoming One with Love and shares the journey of a good friend of mine from South Africa, Stephan Vosloo. If you’ve been on a journey of living loved for a while, you especially will want to hear from a brother who has discovered some really remarkable things about the joy of others-centered living and learning to love himself in his own brokenness and others in theirs. No, he hasn’t arrived and he will be the first to say he has a long way to go but this is a breath-taking view from his vantage point on the trail.

We couldn’t if it all into one podcast, so this Friday morning another piece of that conversation will air on The God Journey.  You won’t want to miss that either.

Though the podcasts are always listed in the upper left of the Lifestream.org page, I rarely refer to a podcast in the blog here. To do so says I think something significant is going on here. I came away from my conversation with Stephan refreshed, encouraged, and challenged in some specific areas of my own journey. It’s like God opened a door to a new field of his love I’d yet discovered.  Judging by the email I’ve received and the conversations I’ve had since airing the first part of our conversation, I know I’m not alone.

I’m not going to say much else, other than you will most likely thank me if you can take the time to listen to it.

Don’t Let Fear Determine Your Path

I got a text recently from someone about an exchange we had six years before.

You may never know what these words you said to me in 2014 have meant to me. There is so much pressure living in the “Bible belt” but I think I finally realize through this pandemic and having time to be away from it all that my relationship with Jesus can grow without that pressure. Fellowship can be sitting with a friend having coffee and challenging each other. I don’t have to sit in a group or be forced to be part of a small group I’m not comfortable around. Thank you so much for your books, podcasts, Breath of Fresh Air. You have provided a window of light to me and helped reveal truth.

Looking back, I found our original exchange to help me sort out exactly what she was talking about.

I am not even sure I know how to put into words the things going through my heart and mind right now. The Jake book has been a glimmer of light to me as well as soaking up all the podcasts from the God Journey and Lifestream. I don’t know what to say about my “church”. I still go but I’m tired of the pressure to serve, the pressure to join a life group, the pressure that if you don’t go on a foreign mission trip every year you aren’t doing what you should.

I chose this group originally because I felt there was authenticity, now it seems like it is all about entertainment, they had Jack Sparrow and Elsa and Anna wandering around there last week. Yet, when my life was tough and things were scary for a few months, no one cared. Our motto is ” changing the way you think about church” I used to think we were so different. Now, I feel that if Jesus were here sitting in our midst he would be sad. I don’t think this Is what He wanted or intended.

We don’t know where the money we give goes. We don’t know the church’s budget. A select group of elders makes all the decisions. They are the only ones who know what is in the bank. I don’t know anymore. My relationship with God is suffering. I’m disillusioned. Saddened. Disheartened. And really don’t know where to go from here anymore.

My response to her had been brief, so it was so good to hear how such simple words had changed the trajectory of her faith—

Follow your heart.  I suspect you already know how God is leading you but you are afraid to follow.  I appreciate the things that you’re seeing.  Pressure is not godly nor is fear.  I pray you’ll have the courage to follow what he has put in your heart and find yourself in more spacious places of his working.

That’s true of most people I meet. They seem to be confused, but when you listen behind their words, it’s evident that they already know how Jesus is leading them. They have just talked themselves out of it because of what other, perhaps even well-meaning Christians are pressuring them to do. They worry about how others will judge them than simply following the gentle nudge the Spirit has put in their heart.

God’s leading is not that difficult to know; it’s just challenging to trust that it’s him, especially when he’s leading you away from those things you were taught to rely on. Fear will never lead you to what’s best, and it will distort your perception of God and his whispers into your heart.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid of making a mistake, of facing the disapproval of people you love, or that God wouldn’t be there to help you beyond your own efforts?  That is often the path that will lead you to more light and freedom.

A Special Gift a Long Time Ago

I just read his obituary in Christianity Today. “Walter Hooper, a North Carolina man who dedicated his life to preserving and promoting the writings of C. S. Lewis, died Monday at the age of 89. He was sick with COVID-19.”

What an amazing life this man led and he was an important piece of a gift God gave me 19 years ago that has remained a treasured day in my memories. News of his death rekindled those today.

I was in Wales visiting friends and a fellowship there that had been powerfully impacted by some of my earlier books. One night, before bedtime, I was told to be ready to leave early in the morning on a day trip. They wouldn’t tell me where they were taking me, but they were obviously excited.

We got in the car the next morning and off we went back to England. I assumed they had some other folks they wanted me to meet. Soon, however, I noted we were on the road to Oxford. I’d never been there. It was where C.S. Lewis lived, taught, and wrote. My shelves are filled with C.S. Lewis books and others by the Inklings, a group of Christian writers that lived in Oxford. I had hoped that some day I would get to visit the city, the university, and the Kilns, the home where Lewis lived.  That’s where they were taking me and we had a 10:00 am appointment to tour the home, which are only done by prior arrangement.

As we were welcomed into the home, the American student giving us the tour said she could start now, but if we were willing to wait forty-five minutes she said we could join another group that would be extra-special. She didn’t say why but did say she had already gained their permission to let us join in. Since we would be waiting in C.S. Lewis’ library, we opted to join the later tour.

Right on time, two more people arrived. One a college student, and the other an older, soft spoken gentleman (seated above) that was going to lead the tour. He was introduced as “Walter” and though I’d read some of his books about Lewis and some he had edited for him, I don’t know if I’d ever seen his picture. However, as he began to show us around the library, it become clear that he had been in this home with Lewis and knew him quite well. His anecdotes of Lewis’ humor and his insight into his writings were such a delight. Fifteen minutes into the tour it dawned on me who he was and that I was being given a personal tour of C.S. Lewis’ home by someone who had known Lewis and dedicated his life to putting his writings into the world. We spent a couple of hours together and he took us throughout the house and grounds with his stories.

It was one of the most memorable days of my life. And, it seemed like a gift straight from the Father’s hand—that on the far side of the world two friends from Wales would take me to Oxford to surprise me and that we would just happen to be there when Walter Hooper was showing a young friend Lewis’ home and recounting his life and work with Lewis.

I’m grateful at every memory of it, as I was today when I read of Walter Hooper’s passing. At some point in eternity I hope I cross paths with C.S. Lewis and Walter Hooper on the bank of a tranquil stream and talk of the wonders of our God, and all the ways we got him wrong living in this age.

Rest in peace, Walter Hooper.  You’ve enriched the world with your careful work on Lewis’ thoughts and writings.

Relationships Make Us Rich

After spending a few days with a group of people in Florida, a newfound friend observed, “You’re a repository for thousands and thousands of conversations you’ve had all over the globe with all kinds of people who are discovering what it means to live the life of Jesus.”

I had never thought of it that way, but it does express what my life has been like. I’ve talked to some of the most amazing people on the planet caught up in their own Jesus journey. I have gleaned much from them as we have processed our journeys together to look into the mysteries of God.

So, for everyone I’ve ever had a conversation with, I’m grateful that you took the time to engage my life and add to my story. I hope I’ve added to yours as well.

These are the first paragraphs on the Acknowledgment page of my newest book, Live Loved Free Full, which is set to release in a couple of weeks.  As I worked through that book I could remember specific people with whom I was talking when the truths of that book became cemented in my heart. At its end, I wanted to express my gratitude for people all over the world who have enriched me with their insights, experiences, and even questions we wrestled with together.  My heart is a marvelous tapestry the Spirit has stitched together over thousands of conversations with people in all stages of the spiritual journey—from seasoned ones who have explored the realities of living loved for decades and from people just starting out from the trailhead.

Relationships make us rich. The reason I’m sharing that now is that I’ve never been more grateful for the people God has put in my life than I have over the last few weeks. Leading up to my writing A Fresh Wind Is Blowing, and for the week after, I’ve been in a constant stream of conversations with people all over the world, which have thrilled my heart, opened my eyes to things God had been preparing me to see, and put a fresh sense of his leading and his hope in my heart. All of that has been mining a deep vein of precious thoughts from the heart of God. Most of those conversations are still going on and I have no idea where they may lead yet, but I am grateful for the manifold wisdom of God he makes known through his Church.

His church really is the network of friends and friends of friends that he knits into our lives over the course of our journey. Some of those I talk to frequently, others come in and out of my life after great gaps of time, but the conversations are rich with the wisdom and life of his Spirit. This is a fluid way of seeing his Church because it isn’t a programmed reality we can identify, but the result of following those nudges to connect with people and then allowing them into our lives as our mutual affection grows. These are people who love you where you are on the journey. They don’t manipulate you to fulfill their expectations or try to convince you of anything they think is true. They share freely out of love and wait for the Spirit to make sense of things.

As these conversations persist, the insights added by others continue to snowball until the reality Jesus is inviting me into becomes clear. It’s a marvelous process, one Paul describes in Ephesians 1 when he says the Church is “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Each of us alone only gets to see a facet of who God is, but in our growing connection with his family, we get a wider grasp of his nature and purpose in our hearts and in circumstances around us. 

A few of those conversations I’ve been able to share over the 781 episodes of The God Journey.  Most, however, went unrecorded except in the recesses of my brain. Like a giant jig-saw puzzle, each of those interactions has blessed my life and spilled out in things I’ve said or written.  Tomorrow on The God Journey, I’m sharing a conversation that I had with an old friend from South Africa who has explored some elements of living in Father’s love that delights my heart. It is probably one of the most important podcasts I’ve ever released and I hope you can find time to listen to it even if you no longer regularly check in there.

You’ll hear how the maturing of his love in us will set you free from the suffering that resulted from our self-centered thinking and allow us to be a better reflection of him to people around us. I’ll warn you now, the road to that reality is not an easy nor a popular one. As we taste more deeply of his love it will challenge our affection for the world’s way of doing things and put us on a path less traveled. However, no one who has gone down that path, however, has ever lived to regret it. Whatever he changes in us he only replaces with something far better.

I hope I’ve spurred you on to celebrate the relationships Jesus has given you. Who has touched your life with words that encourage and enlighten you? Who has provided you a living example of what it means to live in growing trust in Father’s faithfulness?  If it’s been a while since you’ve talked to them, consider connecting with them again, even if it is just to express your gratitude for what they’ve added to your life.  Healthy relationships are some of the real treasures of this kingdom.

Give place to them. Enjoy them. Let love be at the heart of all you do.

One final note, we are still recruiting members for the Living Loved Free Full Launch Team. If you can help us, check it out and get an advance copy of the book.

 

 

 

A Fresh Wind is Blowing 

Do you know how in advance of a storm, the wind can pick up suddenly, change direction, and bring in a scent of rain? I have a growing sense that the same thing is happening with God’s Spirit. The wind of his Spirit has shifted. Have you felt it?

In the last couple of weeks, something has changed, and I feel the same sense of wonder and excitement the children did when the Beaver in Narnia told them, “Aslan is on the move.”  I don’t know what it means, but I know a fresh purpose of God is unfolding. And please, don’t think this has anything to do with the recent election; I’m speaking of a different realm.

Everything has shifted in my own heart over the past two weeks, a fresh unfolding of Father’s insights and a rising hope that something new is taking shape. I am also discovering that I’m not alone. I’ve talked to many others who have been seeded with a fresh stirring of the Spirit in their hearts as well. For some, that has come with fresh insight, for others, a growing hopefulness in their hearts even if they can’t quite put a finger on it. For all, it seems to be a fresh invitation to draw closer to God and listen with expectancy.

What you hear may be out of the norm for you. Some of the people I’ve talked to tell me that they wouldn’t dare share what God seems to be showing them with many of their Christian friends. “They would look at me like I’m crazy,” one told me.  I know. Believe me, I know. Yet, the things she was hearing were coming fresh from God’s heart.

Those who need the affirmation of their friends will have a tough time on this road. Truth rarely travels in crowds. That’s one of the reasons Jesus told us about the broad and the narrow road. He wanted his disciples to know that they dare not seek affirmation of what’s true in the popular beliefs of the day. They would miss him if they did. More people will respond to fear than faith and, in the process, become more rigid and less loving.

If you are sensing something different in your heart, pay attention. Give space to what God is stirring in your heart. Don’t cling to your old comforts or fear what change might come. This is his doing, and he is inviting you to tack on a fresh wind. If you’re not sensing that yet, please don’t let that shake you. He is doing something else in you at the moment. Just don’t be surprised when you do begin to see it.

I want to encourage those who are hearing something new but afraid to believe it because it isn’t conventional. While other Christians seemed to be preoccupied with matters political or demanding their “rights” during a time of upheaval just know that the flow of the Spirit is running deeper than you’ll find in such temporal things.  Don’t let fear guide you, and don’t cling to his past work as a comfort. He is no longer there.

One lady described it as an undercurrent, spreading throughout the world, like a crystal-clear, underground river flowing beneath the surface. Many will walk right over it and miss it, but those with roots deep enough to touch it will find their heart drawn more deeply toward Father’s heart and purpose. Don’t look with your physical eyes; for what’s really important is currently unseen.

Perhaps that’s what Father is doing in this pandemic. I am not convinced God caused it; a world out of synch with its Creator would do that quite easily. Nonetheless, as with all things, he is in it working together for his purpose and our good. The disruption of our lives could put us off balance enough to be open to this fresh wind of his Spirit. The physical distancing we have been asked to do from each other for the good of the whole may have also been an invitation to give more place to him.  (I talk a bit more about this with Gil Michel on today’s podcast at The God Journey, An Opportunity to Grow.)

Is your heart more alive to some insights you find yourself resisting, just because it’s different or because your friends might disagree? Be careful where others manipulate your fears or feed your anger. Find that space where hope, humility, and love warm your heart, even when circumstances are dire. That’s where you’ll sense his moving.

It’s not for me to tell you what it is, even if I could. I’m still sorting out what all of this means, to be honest. I see him stitching threads together that have hovered around my life for the past couple of years that all seemed disjointed until now.  I can’t say more now lest I disrupt what Father is doing and shape something in your heart before Father does. Don’t run to anyone else to tell you what it is either. Jesus is summoning his people to follow him alone.

Things are happening now that will change the course of events in this world, but that time is not yet. It is time for all of us to quiet our hearts and catch the wind of his spirit.

It won’t come by our works, but by learning to rest in his.

 


Note: We are still looking for members for the Living Loved Free Full Launch Team. If you can help us, check it out.

Would You Like to Help Me Launch My New Book?

I love surprises, and this one is a surprise even to me. My new book, Live Loved Free Full, releases December 22, 2020. It had been sitting on my computer for more than a decade, and I had no idea what a gem it was until I opened it recently. Someone else had put this together from blog posts and articles—a daily devotional inviting people into a grace-filled relational space to start each day. I have added to it and updated it and am excited to share the unexpected treat with you.

Right now, I am looking for a lot of volunteers who want to be part of a launch team that can spread the word about this book on social media! If you’d like to help us, we’ll give you $6.00 off the purchase of a copy.  You can read more about the book on my blog here.

If you…

  • love to read.
  • enjoy using Facebook, Instagram, or other social media
  • like to tell others about the books they are reading.
  • are willing to share about new books on social media.
  • are willing to write a review of the book on Goodreads and Amazon.
  • want to help me make this book available to the world.

Would you be interested?  I’d love to have you on the team! All launch team members will receive an advance digital copy of Live Loved Free Full.

If you want to join my team, please follow these two easy steps:

We’ll ask you to do three simple things.  (1) Read as much of the digital copy that we’ll send to you so that you’ll feel free to recommend it to others. (2) Write a review of it—even one to two sentences—and post it at Goodreads when you have it done and then on Amazon when it releases there on January 1, 2021. Amazon doesn’t accept reader reviews until the book is available to everyone. (3) Post pictures of the book with your recommendation about it on your social media feeds in late December and early January.

If you’re not interested in being on the Launch Team but want to pre-order your copy of Live Loved Free Full, click on the link.  I’m really excited about this book and can’t wait to share it with you.

If you’re willing to help us in this way, I’ll give you a coupon good for $6.00 off the purchase of your own printed copy. This one is a special edition in hardback with dustcover and a ribbon to keep your place.

Happy Birthday to Our Little Book

A year ago today, I released my latest book, A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, along with my coauthors Arnita Taylor and Bob Prater. In the year since, our culture has only grown more polarized, regretfully.  We’re not blaming the book for that. We always knew a book about peacemaking would be a tough sell in a culture that covets fear and conflict to drive market share and political engagement. We just hope for so much better.

The three of us believe that the issues that divide us wouldn’t seem so insurmountable if we could actually listen to each other, care as much about what others need as much as we do what we need, and create environments to discuss our differences with mutual respect and compassionate hearts. Wherever this book has been read and its encouragements applied, some amazing things have happened in churches, schools, and Zoom conversations. I’m delighted to see so many of my friends finding new ways to care about people who may not think the way they do or look like they do. For the last six weeks, the three of us authors have been helping a college in Texas have a conversation about how to create a new anti-racist institution a team is exploring. We have been amazed at the insightful and reasoned conversation those people are having even though they see the issue very differently. It can be done.

“When you combine courage with compassion, the world can change.” That’s what it says on the back of the book, and we are finding just how true that is. It takes some work. It is easier for many to join the voices of animosity and suspicion in our polarized nation, but the rewards of changing the conversation are worth the risk. We’re excited about those we know personally who are learning to take a different approach to the issues that divide us.

So, if you’ve read and been touched by our little book, and its companion Conversation Guide, would you please help us expand this book’s reach in the world? Consider it a birthday gift for the message in this book.  It is not backed by a major publisher or an advertising budget. No one at NY Times or Christianity Today has reviewed. Bob, Arnita, and I have simply been putting it into the world wherever God gives us voice and opportunity and seeing where word-of-mouth will take it.

What can you do?  Post one of the pictures below on your social feed, and either write a brief paragraph about how this book has changed your thinking, or quote one of your favorite passages from it.  I’ll start.  Here’s one of mine. This is from Arnita on page 193 describing the process of writing this book:

It’s not that we just had eighteen months of holding hands; we have had passionate disagreements! We just have not had conflict that couldn’t be talked through. We were able to be gentle, ask questions, and stay factual, and we didn’t attach excessive emotions to our own point of view. We’ve been honest because whatever concern does not rise to the surface cannot be addressed or healed. Additionally, we’ve been committed to the common goal of finishing this conversation with respect and honor.”

My growing friendship with Bob and Arnita and the content of this book have transformed me in ways I had not imagined. It has changed the way I seek out and interact with people who are different than me, as well as helping my friends realize there is a different conversation to be had about politics, race, religion, and sexuality that the political parties, the media, and even religious leaders try to prevent us from having.

If you haven’t explored this little book, maybe in the aftermath of such a contentious election you, too, might be ready for a different conversation. This book isn’t about changing the culture in Washington or our media but changing our conversation with the people around us. A language of healing will only take hold in the world one person, one conversation, or one engagement at a time.

Feel free to download or copy a picture below and post it somewhere with your own personal story of how this book impacted you or posting a favorite quotation from it. You can link back to this page, our book page, or even Amazon’s listing. If you want to order discounted copies in bulk to start a discussion group or give away for Christmas, you can find them at Blue Sheep Media.

Let’s see if we can grow this conversation and put a different spirit in the wind. We are grateful for whatever you can do to help us.

A Language of Healing with Bob Prater, Arnita Taylor, and Wayne Jacobsen

 

At Peace No Matter What

Someone sent my own quote back to me a few days ago, telling me how much it had encouraged them.  This thought always draws my heart back to a better place, as well. Our world is a mess, no doubt about it. I wish there had been no virus, that our country wasn’t so polarized after the election, and that we could really treat all human beings equally regardless of their skin color. I’m sorry that people lose their jobs, get troubling diagnoses from their doctor, or have to deal with broken relationships with people they love.

I heard a quote this morning that is similar: “You can’t change how the story begins, but you can change how it ends.” It was mistakenly attributed to C. S. Lewis, though it isn’t in any of his writings. Still, it invites us to focus on the places where we can make a difference instead of leaving us in the despair of victimhood. We can’t do anything about what has happened to us in the past, but God is with us today and can teach us to trust his love in a way that will change the course of our lives.

When we stop fighting the reality of our circumstances, then we’re in a place to discover his peace in the midst of them and his grace to let him change us or the circumstances we face. That’s where I have hope, on what God might do today as I put my hand in his and follow him; however, he leads.

The person who sent this quote back to me also shared how that is living out in them.

Just wanted to thank you so very much for A Breath of Fresh Air. It has been refreshing to go back and listen to some of the older podcasts. I have enjoyed you and Brad being together and all the great laughing you two did together.

Also just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying and learning from the podcasts you and Kyle do together. They have been uplifting and such great teachable moments.

Of course, I love all the podcasts when you have guests and just when it is you. The insight God has given you and the way you share your life, perspectives, and teachings about the Bible has been very life-changing to me, i.e. Jesus Lens, Transitions, all the books and all the rest, have helped me be able to move on after so many years of negativity and control to a much more peaceful, love and grace-based faith and love for God and that He loves me so deeply. I can’t wait until your new devotional book comes out!

Hope you and your family have a blessed holiday season during this pandemic!

Others have told me that the quotes we’re sending out are drawing them back to discover the resources they come from. I like that they are not getting lost. If you want to hear the podcast that the quote above came from, you can listen here: Giving Up the Burden to Convince Others.

And I love the movement she describes from “negativity and control to a more peaceful, love and grace-based faith.” That’s my journey, too, which allows me to embrace whatever today is inside my confidence that God will get me through this too.  I no longer look back at my past, frustrated by what has been, nor look too far ahead and worry about what might be.

I find his grace sufficient to whatever I have to face today and know that living there will prepare me best for whatever is coming down the road.

___________________________

You can find out more about my newest book, Live Loved Free Full here.  And, if you don’t receive our periodic Breath of Fresh Air, you can sign up by clicking on the link and checking the appropriate box.

A Daily Guide to Living Loved, Free and Full

The world bombards us with its anxieties and distractions while religion often draws us onto the performance treadmill of doing our best for God. With all of that, how will we ever sustain a journey that leans into Father’s love and faces every circumstance in the growing confidence that we can know his ways and follow his lead?

Live Loved Free Full, is my newest book and will come hot off the presses at the end of this year. I never thought I’d do a devotional, but a number of years ago a college intern working at Lifestream culled some of the best insights I’d put into my past articles and blogs over the last twenty-five years of learning to live loved. She formatted them into 365 daily thoughts that could help people lean into more relational space each day with God and with his love for the people around them. This is a book people can revisit year after year to call their hearts back to his reality.

I had taken a cursory look at it years ago but was so busy with other projects I didn’t have time to go through it all. So, it has rested on my computer for the past few years. Recently, however, I got thinking about it after a conversation with my publisher at Blue Sheep Media. I sent them the rough copy, and they expressed a real passion to print it. Surprised at their enthusiasm, I started reading through it and got captured by it. Some of these, I don’t remember writing, but I found myself inspired by some of my own long-forgotten words.  How weird is that?

So, I have spent the last few months going through it and working in some of my more recent blogs to put together a book that can either be read as a daily devotional or even read straight through if someone prefers. Many of daily reflections feed off the ones before and continue in the ones following, so some themes carry through for a few days at a time. This book will be in a smaller hardback edition, a convenient companion size for your Bible or journal, if you keep one. My prayer is that it will be a daily reminder to lean into God’s perspective for you year after year.

Now, we’ve been busy getting it ready for a December 22 release date. Yes, I know that doesn’t give you a lot of time, especially for those of you who want to get it as a Christmas gift for someone you love. However, if you want to pre-order it, we’ll ship it out directly from the publisher as soon as they arrive.  If we cannot provide that by Christmas, we’ll have a downloadable card you print up at home and wrap to give to your family member or friend that let them know their gift will be arriving hot off the presses soon.

These daily insights are designed to draw your heart into God’s reality with a focus that will open a doorway so you can see your world through his eyes, including the wisdom he has to help navigate your day and the people in it.

This book will help you . . .

  • Gain confidence in how deeply loved by God you are.
  • Recognize how he nudges you with spiritual insight.
  • Lean into a growing trust in the way God is working in you.
  • Enjoy sharing his love with others in ways that will transform the world around you.
  • Rest from your own efforts and learn to cooperate with what he is doing.
  • Find the freedom to follow him, especially when it isn’t easy.

You can pre-order your copy today of Live Loved Free Full, right here and we’ll give you $2.00 off the cover price. I hope it gives you a thought every day that will help your mind and heart recognize how Father is making himself known to you and how you can think through your day with his perspective.

If you pre-order this book along with other products from Lifestream, they will all be sent when the new book is ready to be shipped. If you’d prefer the other books to be shipped sooner, please make a separate order.  Thank you. 

Hardback with dust jacket, 320 pages, $16.99

For International orders:  Since this is being published by Blue Sheep Media, an independent publisher, distributing options outside the U.S. are incredibly limited. We are happy to ship books to International destinations, but the cost is expensive. We don’t profit from shipping, but it is often way more than the cost of the book.  If you’d like us to ship one to another country,  please email Jess to get a quote for the number of books you want and where you want it shipped. Keep in mind the shipping cost is usually the same for one book as it is for two. We’ll let you know how much it will cost to fulfill that order, then you can decide whether to do it or not. We will have an e-book version that will be easier to distribute overseas.

“This Book Has Been My Friend”

I’ll let Lauren handle my blogging duties today. I’ve gotten many emails like this over the past nearly-twenty years that “The Jake Story” started to appear in the world. Dave Coleman and I started releasing chapters over twenty years ago at JakeColsen.com. No one knew who was writing it at the time, but the story seemed to capture what so many others were experiencing.

I just finished reading your book So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. I have never read a book that has explained a past situation of so many layers and depth and put clear biblical thoughts and explanations to it. I could relate to everything in that book from a past church situation my husband and I went through eight years ago. Thankfully and painfully, we have been changed ever since.

This book has been my “friend” and God has provided me a lot of clarity and encouragement through this book. Thank you for having the boldness to write it.

I believe we are on the same journey.

It sure sounds like we are. I’m always blessed to hear that something I’ve written has magnified in someone else’s heart what the Spirit of God was revealing in them. I’m so grateful that this little story keeps finding its way into people’s hearts and how much it encourages them to the “better things” God has placed in their hearts.

A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of the national discord through the recent election, someone mentioned to me that we could use a “John” to invite us again to those things of first importance.

So, I went back and read that opening scene and excerpted part of it below if you’d like to as well. It began with an angry group of people arguing about God and religion on a public street. As they grew increasingly hostile and threatening to each other, a stranger walked into the center of the fight and floated a different perspective into the crowd:

“You really have no idea what Jesus was like, do you?”

The words slipped off the man’s lips as gently as the breeze wafted through the trees overhead and in stark contrast to the heated argument that swirled around him. They were so softly spoken that I read them on his lips as much as heard what he said. But their impact was not lost on the crowd. The noisy clamor subsided quickly as tension-filled faces gave way to puzzled expressions. “Who said that?” was the unspoken question that filled the eyes of each one as they scanned the others around them.

“What do you know about it, old man?” One of them finally spoke up, his mockery dripping off of each word until the disapproving gaze of the crowd silenced him. He laughed it off and looked away embarrassed, grateful that their eyes had swung back to the stranger. But he was in no hurry to speak. The resulting silence hung in the air, far beyond the point of awkwardness. A few nervous glances and shrugs shot throughout the crowd, but no one spoke and no one left. During this time the man scanned the crowd pausing to hold each person’s gaze for a brief second. When he caught my eye, everything inside seemed to melt. I looked away instantly.

After what seemed an insufferably long time he spoke again. “He was nothing special to look at. He could walk down this street today and not one of you would even notice him. In fact he had the kind of face you would shy away from, certain he wouldn’t fit in with your crowd.

“But he was as gentle a man as one would ever know. He could silence detractors without ever raising his voice. He never bullied his way; never drew attention to himself nor did he ever pretend to like what vexed his soul. He was real, to the very core of his being.

“And at the core of that being was love.” The stranger paused and shook his head. “Wow! Did he love!” His eyes looked far past the crowd now, seeming to peer across the depths of time and space. “We didn’t even know what love was until we saw it in him. It was everyone, too, even those who hated him, who wouldn’t extend to him the simplest of courtesies. He still cared for them, hoping somehow they would find a way out of their self-inflicted souls to recognize who stood among them.”

“And with all that love, he was completely honest. Yet even when his actions or words exposed people’s darkest motives, they didn’t feel shamed. They felt safe with him. His words conveyed not even a hint of judgment, simply an entreaty to come to God and be freed by him. There was no one you would trust more quickly with your deepest secrets. If someone were going to catch you at your worst moments you’d want it to be him.

“He wasted no time mocking others, nor their religious trappings.” He glanced at those who had just done so. “If he had something to say to them, he’d say it and move on and you would know you’d been loved more than anyone had ever loved you before.” Here the man stopped, his eyes closed and mouth clenched as if choking back tears that would melt him in an instant if he gave in to them.

“I’m not talking about mamby-pamby sentimentalism either. He loved, really loved. It didn’t matter if you were Pharisee or prostitute, disciple or blind beggar, Jew, Samaritan, or Gentile. His love held itself out for any to embrace. Most did, too, when they saw him. Though so few ended up following him for those few moments his presence passed through their life, they tasted something they could never deny even years later. Somehow he seemed to know everything about you, but loved deeply all that was true about who he made you to be.”

He paused and scanned the crowd. In the last couple of moments perhaps as many as 30 people had stopped to listen, their gaze firmly on the man and their mouths suspended open in bewilderment. I can record his words here, but am bereft of an adequate description of their impact. No one within earshot could deny their power or their authenticity. They rang from the very depths of this man’s soul.

“And when he hung there from that filthy cross,” the man’s eyes looked up into the trees that towered over us, “that love still poured down—on mocker and disillusioned friend alike. As he approached the dark chamber of death, wearied by his battle with sin, there was no finer moment in all the world. His anguish became the conduit for his life to be given to you. This was no madman. This was God’s Son, poured out to the last breath, so that we could live free.

“If I were you,” he said sweeping his index finger across those who’d started the whole discussion “I would waste far less time ragging on religion and find out just how much he really loves you.”

You can pick up the rest of the story in the book. If you haven’t read it, it’s thirteen fictional conversations between this man on the street and the one observing him in the crowd, who is frustrated with his own lifeless faith.  Who is this stranger on the street, and what does he know about Jesus?

The answers change the trajectory of his entire life and open doors he would never have imagined.

What’s In Your Heart?

I’ve known John and his wife Jenny for almost twenty years. Transplanted to England from South Africa, we met them through our friends in Ireland and have enjoyed many rich times of fellowship with them. He’s just published a new book and one that I think many of you will enjoy.

It’s called What’s in Your HeartIt is subtitled A Guide to Wholehearted Following, and I think many of you will find it a simple but profound read to help you grasp what it means to know Jesus and to follow him with a wholehearted joy that will transform the world you live in. It’s a call to living within the rhythms of God’s eternal life each day, an invitation to follow the calling of Jesus at home, at work, in the marketplace, and a reminder that when he calls us he says, “We can do this together!”

John shared this book with me when he was still writing it and I’m so excited it is now available.  It will help you walk free of religious obligation, ritual, and routine as you discover God’s vast world of grace and unseen dimensions. Here’s what I wrote as an endorsement for the book:

Simple. Exciting. Transformative. If you’re looking for a guide to help you understand what a whole-hearted relationship with Jesus looks like in the practicality of everyday life, you need look no further than What’s in Your Heart.  This book can help you discover what Father has already put in your heart, and show you how to live in that joy. John Langford will steer you away from the pretensions of religious thinking, so you can truly live a life worthy of Jesus’ love and his purpose in the world. I can imagine no one better to write this; he lives every word and has for the twenty years I’ve known him.

Interestingly enough, John and I recorded a podcast together at The God Journey by the same name. You can listen to it here. Some of my favorite people in the world are those whose trajectory in their life with Jesus has steadily trended upward, where he has made difficult decisions with God’s heart in mind not pursuing what is easy or popular.

This is a book you could give to a new person just starting on a Jesus journey, and one you could share with a seasoned saint and they would be encouraged as well to those things of first importance.

You can find out more about this book on John’s website, His Life. It is also available on Amazon for the United States and on Amazon in the U.K.

Here’s an excerpt from What’s in Your Heart:

It had been a long day as I settled into bed. I leafed through The Book and turned to the story of God’s conversation with Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.”  My mind had been captivated once again just as it had been over a period of days by the Israelite journey from slavery in Egypt to their promised freedom. They stood, so to speak on the threshold of a new beginning for themselves in Canaan with God. I started reading the well-known narrative about the spies and their role in moving from fulfilment to frustration as they debated the pros and cons of entering the land promised to them by God.  The Lord had instructed Moses to appoint leaders from each of the tribes represented to travel into Canaan. The twelve were sent to explore this land which God had chosen to give to His people.

As I read the story, I reflected on the lead up to this stage of the saga. The supernatural power of God demonstrated throughout the Israelite journey from the plagues in Egypt to the rolling back of the Red Sea and the incredible daily provision for this beloved people. As I continued to read my expectation began to rise like a symphony drawing to the conclusion of this incredible drama of deliverance. But alas, when the spies return from their reconnaissance the harmony drops off as the leaders are divided. Caleb and Joshua have no doubt whatsoever that God has given them this land promised as their inheritance. The other ten spies were not having it. We, of course know the outcome of this tragic story. Slightly heavy hearted I closed The Book and reached to turn out my bedside lamp.

Suddenly and completely unexpected, I heard the tender voice that I have come to know and trust. What I heard at that moment was probably one of the most significant words from the Lord I have had the privilege to hear. His voice firm yet tender spoke into my heart with such clarity. “You know why the Israelites did not go into the land don’t you?”

And, before I could answer, He replied to His own question. “Because it was not in their hearts!”

Follow His Path Not the Crowd

Someone sent my own quote back to me from one my office sent out last month, with these words:  “Thank you so much for these ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ inspirational messages! The name is perfect, and the messages are greatly needed and much appreciated in these crazy, hectic, troubling times.”

Following Jesus and seeking the approval of the crowd are two divergent paths. Last week, it was a bit concerning to see how some people responded on my Facebook page to my blog about the upcoming election. More people took a purely partisan perspective than I would have hoped, even accusing me of various perspectives I don’t hold or trying to shame me back into the evangelical political fold.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I don’t write what I do to be gain more audience share. This website would be very different if I wrote for others’ approval or to build my audience. I don’t know why my heart beats with a different cadence than other people I love seem to hear, but I write because I think something needs to be said that I’m not reading elsewhere. I’m careful about that, too. When something is on my heart that I know will challenge others, I share it with those I know who listen to Father before writing. That still doesn’t mean I always get it right, but it does mean I’m willing to put some different thoughts out there and interact with those who want to give it some honest consideration.

People can disagree without being unloving. We dare not let the world carve up Christ-followers into political factions that the world uses to gain power and financial advantage. I find both sides of that divide to be inherently dishonest and manipulative. Why would we let them become a litmus test for another’s passion for Jesus? Jesus warned us that some would exclude us and lie about us to make us their enemy. He also challenged us never to let them become our enemy.  Love is still the only environment in which his light and life flow into the world.

We only grow where we perceive things that are different than we already think. When something challenges my point of view, I listen more closely to see if I detect the breath of the Spirit. Of course, not everything does, but I’ll miss those that do if I only listen to what I already know.

Don’t worry. No matter how this election turns out, God is bigger still. He has a plan unfolding on the earth, and as part of that, he is gathering his sheep not as a powerful political force but as those who reveal his glory in the world. Often in history, his people are more effective when they are powerless in the world’s ways and strong in his. We’ll never figure out what that is in advance, but he does have a path for you to follow, and trying to be popular won’t allow you to see it. You’ll then be left to do what you think is best, and that’s not a healthy road for any of us. In your interactions with others, always be authentic, but also be gracious and generous to people who see differently than you do.

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Note:  If you’re not receiving these thrice-weekly quotations, you can do so by signing up for A Breath of Fresh Air. You’ll also find a different set of quotes three other days of the week on my Instagram and Facebook author page.  You can subscribe to my Instagram feed here or find me there as wayneatlifestream, or “like” my Facebook Author page to receive them.

 

Politics Divide; Only Love Redeems

“How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” Psalm 40:4

Honestly, I couldn’t help it. I read this a few Sunday mornings ago, and the first thought in my head was “President Trump.” He creates more fake news than he complains about, and his pride is legendary. Even many who love President Trump will admit he’s often his own worst enemy.

He also came to mind because of all the emails, videos, and articles people have sent me lately, declaring him the hope to save Christianity in America. Many of these are embellished with supernatural dreams, angelic visitations, and direct words from God saying a vote for Trump is a vote for God and revival in America, and a vote for Biden is a vote against God’s kingdom. Without President Trump, they say, the U.S. will become a godless, communist wasteland.

People are even saying that God is telling us to distinguish between the man’s flaws and the mantle of anointing he carries from God to destroy those who oppose his people. I’ve never read such ridiculous double-talk in my life. “Don’t look at the fruits of a man’s life to gauge his measure.” We’re supposed to ignore all of that in the misguided belief that God uses him as a tool for his purposes.  These usually come with grave warnings, like, “To the degree that you judge the man, is the degree that the Lord will judge us. Don’t get in God’s way.”

I’m sorry, this does not pass the sniff test for me. None of it has Father’s fragrance about it—not what they are saying or how they are saying it. It is easy to make up dreams and visitations and pass them off as coming from God or to want something so badly you convince yourself God is telling you what you want to hear. These “warnings” have confused many because even though they have reservations about voting to re-elect the President, they don’t want to vote against God’s will.  They assume people talking to angels must be closer to God than they are. Some are even afraid that if we don’t re-elect President Trump, we invite God’s judgment on our nation.

When they ask what I think of all of this, my answer is the same. “Follow your heart, not your fears.” If you think re-electing President Trump is the right thing for our nation, then vote for him. If you can’t vote for him in good conscience because of his lack of character and lack of respect for anyone who thinks differently than he does, vote for someone else. Don’t listen to the manipulative taunts and threats of those who want to control your vote, especially if they claim to speak for God. Anyone who tells you that you will be working against God’s kingdom if you don’t vote for President Trump is a false prophet. Their motive may seem genuine, but they are genuinely deluded. And I would say the same of anyone who would tell you in God’s name to vote for Joe Biden or anyone else.

You may have good reasons to vote for Trump. You like his judicial appointments, his confrontations with China, his economic policies, and his repeal of government overreach in business regulations. I like many of those things myself. I voted for him in 2016. It was not an easy vote; I hoped the Christians supporting him would influence his behavior, and he would rise to the office. Unfortunately, he has not, and if there’s been any influence, it has run the other way. I see more of my evangelical friends becoming more like Trump when they attempt to bully others into agreeing with them. 

Many of them think we needed someone of President Trump’s abrasive personality to stand up to Democrats, the mainstream media, and the so-called “deep state.” I sense a certain delight that he is treating their “enemies’ the way they wish they could if they were not constrained (and unfortunately, they see it as a constraint) by love and grace.  That view is woefully misguided; for me, character matters even more than political platforms. Now, I wouldn’t suggest the Democrats are the paragon of virtue. Far from it, especially in light of some recent allegations about Biden’s business dealings with China. I don’t know if our cultural civility can survive another four years of bullying, mocking, and disdaining fellow Americans. He has proved to be the wrong President during this pandemic and the call for an honest conversation about racial equity in America. He delights in dividing Americans rather than appealing to our better angels.

For me, this election is bigger than whether President Donald Trump would serve my interests better than Vice President Joe Biden. Unless evangelicals have the courage to repudiate Trump’s divisive and demeaning character, they will wear his reputation around their necks for generations to come. How can they ever again speak convincingly on the importance of moral character in leadership when they dismissed it in deference to gaining the political power they wanted?

Over my lifetime, I’ve seen the people who most advance God’s kingdom hold themselves with humility, respect, and compassion, just like our Founder did. You can be firm and gracious while moving toward change without disrespecting those who disagree with you.

So, vote for him if you think he’s the best choice to represent America in the world, but don’t make the mistake of putting your hope in him to save Christianity or the nation. The same will be true if you put your hope in Vice President Biden.

God has not placed his hope in either candidate or even in our politics. His kingdom comes on the shoulders of one person—Jesus. That’s the only place your hope belongs. If you put it anywhere else, not only will you be devastated if your candidate loses, you’ll also be distracted if he wins. Sadly, you’ll find yourself invested in another kingdom. Politics divide even Christians from each other; only love can heal and redeem at the same time.

When all the votes are finally counted,  Jesus will still ask us to wake up the next day and to love one another, our enemies, as much as our friends.

Maybe we could start that today, especially if you do disagree with what I have written.

Language of Healing Live – 2 pm (PDT) Today

In a week or so, this contentious U.S. election will be over and regardless of which side wins the election, how do we recover from the polarization that has been fostered during this campaign?

That will be our topic this afternoon on another episode of Language of Healing Live at 2:00 pm PDT.  I’ll be joined by my coauthors of A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor. Paul Swearengin, the author of the edgy novel Jospeh Comes to Town and host of The Non partisan Evangelical Podcast will guide our discussion.

We will be streaming live at the Language of Healing Discussion Group on Facebook, and I will post that feed on my Wayne Jacobsen Page on Facebook as well. Language of Healing Live is a continuing series of video conversations to help people learn to live more generously in this divided world. You can view previous ones here.

Join us there live, or watch the video after, which I’ll post here when we’ve finished.

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Personal note:  If you’ve read A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, and find it worthy to pass on to your family and friends, please consider downloading and reposting the graphic above. We are passionate in the mission to help people have a different conversation than the angry and fearful rhetoric we hear from both sides.  Thanks. 

Putting Some Encouragement Into Your Day

I’ve never had so much fun recycling. We do it, of course. We live in California, and you can’t take everything to landfills. We recycle everything we can, including banana peels, which go back to making compost for Sara’s garden.

But my own writings? It really hadn’t occurred to me even a few weeks ago until a series of God-ordained events and conversations helped me discover a way to do that.  A few weeks ago, we debuted A Breath of Fresh Air, taking short quotes from my past articles, blogs, books, and podcasts and mailing them out three times a week to those who wanted a bit of encouragement. The response has been overwhelming, not just with people subscribing but with the timeliness of those quotes with events in many of your lives. If you’re not on our email list, you can sign up here.

Last week we began posting different quotes on my Instagram account on three different days of the week. The same woman who has been selecting quotes for A Breath of Fresh Air has been putting some art to them as another way to put some wonderful things into the air.  You can see three examples in the graphic above. We’re trying to work out the process to have them cross-post on my Facebook Author page but haven’t fully sorted that out yet.  Hopefully, it will do so tomorrow. If not, you can subscribe to my Instagram feed here or find me there as wayneatlifestream.

Finally, I’m just completing a daily devotional we hope to fast-track for the end of the year. We’re calling it Live Loved, Full & Free. A college person we had worked for me a few years back went through my Living Loved articles and my blog posts and put them into 365 short, daily readings. I love how she broke those down into individual thoughts and tied them together in a way that can enhance the daily trajectory of a life wanting to follow Jesus.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working through that material, updating it and adding some new insights in hopes of getting it in print by the end of the year.  I’ve had this in my files for a few years, but I haven’t moved on them because I didn’t have a sense that the time was right. Now, I know that it is, just by how much re-reading some of them has refocused and reinvigorated my own journey.

Some of my best thoughts over the past couple of decades have gone into my semi-regular blog posts, but I’ve always lamented how quickly blog posts vanish into the ether. Blogs have no endurance; books do.  I can’t wait to share some of these re-purposed encouragements to a more vibrant journey.

I’m really grateful that others have encouraged me to cull through the vast content on this website and find ways to let it live again in the hearts of people who will find it valuable.

 

 

 

Did You Enjoy Your Breath of Fresh Air This Week?

Last week we began a new service here at Lifestream. We started a three-day-a-week email to encourage people to take a beat and reflect on some aspect of God’s work in them and the world around them.

A lady in Pennsylvania is selecting quotations from my various books, podcasts, blog posts, and articles I’ve written over the years that can encourage your journey today. Honestly, many of those quotes I don’t remember writing or saying and I’ve enjoyed having them in my inbox as well.

If you received the email pictured above in your email today, then you are all set to receive them. Please feel free to share them with others by email, blogs, or social media. You do not need our permission. We want them to be windblown as far across the world as Father desires.

We sent them to everyone for the first week with the option to add them to your account. However, if you didn’t click on the link to update your preferences to include A Breath of Fresh Air, you would not have received one today. Instead, you would have received a final notice to sign up for A Breath of Fresh Air, if you want. Click on the link and follow the instructions to update your preferences. Find the “A Breath of Fresh Air” box and click on it. That’s it!  You can, of course, change your preferences any time by clicking on the link at the very bottom of those emails.

I’m sorry for the extra hassle. We did it this way so we wouldn’t fill up the inbox of anyone who did not want them. If you’re on our Lifestream Update list and did NOT sign up for this new service, you received an email today with a link to help you update your preferences. I wish I could provide that link here, but you have to respond from that email.

If you didn’t receive any last week, then you’re not on our mailing list.  If you’d like to be, you can sign up here and check the box for A Breath of Fresh Air.  (Regretfully, this list of blog subscribers is not the same as our Lifestream Update list. I wish we could combine them, but they are managed in two different ways.)

If you want to subscribe to this blog, make sure you include your email address in the box at the upper right of any blog post at Lifestream.org.

And if you’re not sure what we’re talking about, here are the emails we sent out this past week:

 

A Breath of Fresh Air

From the smokey haze of California, a breath of fresh air sounds pretty awesome.  To draw a deep, clean breath can clear the mind, and exhaling can refocus our spirit.

“I can’t breathe,” has become a too-often used refrain this year whether it’s black men under the knee of a racist police officer, a patient gasping for air with the COVID-19 pandemic, or the horrible fires and resulting smoke we’ve had recently on our West Coast. There is nothing more powerless than the feeling that you can’t get a breath and are suffocating in the overwhelming circumstances of life.  I’ve had bouts of asthma, been in smoke-filled rooms,  and had the wind knocked out of me several times.  There’s nothing like being able to take a deep breath when you haven’t been able to for a while.

When people write to me, that’s how they often refer to something they have read or heard me say. Others, from warmer climates, will refer to it as a cup of cold water.  I love hearing how something I’ve put out there has invited someone into a more refreshing place spiritually and allows them to catch their breath again inside their own relationship with Jesus.  So, we’re making some changes here at Lifestream to help people have access to that kind of information.

First, we’re going to send out email encouragements three times a week from the resources here and at the God Journey, just like the one above. We’re calling them A Breath of Fresh Air.  They won’t always be as artistic, but on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, you will find one in your inbox if you want.  They’ll be brief, just a chance to pause a beat and be encouraged in your journey. I’m going to send them to everyone on our Lifestream Update list for the first week, so people can decide if they would like to get them. If that’s too much email for you, do nothing. They will stop after next Thursday. If you want it, however, you will need to add it to your email preferences at MailChimp.  There will be a link in those three emails to make it easy for you to do that.

If you aren’t already subscribed to Lifestream updates, sign up here.  That is a different list than those who subscribe to my blog and are receiving this email.  How do you know if you’re on the other list too?  If you get one this Sunday, use the link above to sign up.

Embracing His Glory - Audio SeriesSecond, we have put the Embracing His Glory recordings from the God Journey on its own Lifestream page. Like Transitions and The Jesus Lens, this will be a major tool to help people explore their own journey. Specifically, Embracing His Glory gives people language and perspective to recognize how Jesus shapes his glory in us.  We’ve released them on the podcast for the past 14 weeks, but are now including them here. It describes in better terms than I’ve had before how learning to live in the Father’s affection has been transforming me and allowing me to live more deeply in his reality.  This has been my journey for the past 26 years—letting Jesus poke holes in my illusions and finding the confidence in his love to walk away from them and to embrace what’s really true—about him, ourselves, the circumstances we’re in, and with people around us.  So many people who have heard them have written to tell me how much they have been a blessing to them.

Finally, we’re adding a whole new section to the Lifestream website. I was talking to a friend recently about Lifestream and, knowing she is a branding expert, I asked her if there were any glaring weaknesses to this site that we could improve on. She had read and listened to almost everything at Lifestream and told me how deeply it had impacted her.  “Your site is a gold mine, with so much free stuff to access.”  But she added that it was difficult to access.  “I’m probably one of only about twelve people on the planet that would take the time to drill down through everything you have there.”

So, she asked me to consider arranging that material into five key questions that I’m asked a lot and point people to the best resources that would help them answer those questions.  I will share more about this feature in the future, but if you go to Lifestream.org, you’ll notice the new banner at the top of the page, helping people find the resources here that most interests them.

Here are the five new Lifestreams that people can use to help them mine the content on this website.  Under each heading, you’ll find the articles, books, podcasts, and recordings that we think will most help people answer those questions in their own journey.

Each of these pages will offer you a host of resources to help you and Jesus sort through these questions in ways that can enhance your journey. You can quickly get some things to think about or dive deeper into an extensive study that could change the trajectory of your life. There are months and months of resources here that can help you find the fullness of his life and freedom.  That’s my hope and prayer for all of it.

Check it out.  Let me know if it is helpful to you.