Behind the Scenes

Raphael Returns

I can’t wait to share this part of the story with you.

If you haven’t yet listened to the My Friend Luis podcast, now might be a good time to get started. When we finished those twelve episodes, Luis and I thought we had told an amazing story of redemption and God’s intervention in the life of a young boy in Mexico and how it came to greater fruition in his adult life.  We had no idea that this story wasn’t yet finished and that the best was yet to come.

As the original podcast aired, Luis came to me and asked if he could tell me a story he had never told anyone else. It took most of that day and two subsequent Saturday mornings for the whole story to spill out as he described the tragedy of his father’s death and the terrors he suffered that night as a fourteen-year-old boy alone on a dangerous mountain. His emotions were still as raw as if these events had happened the night before.  Obviously, I didn’t record those sessions and was initially glad that this came out after the podcast was finished. I was not sure this story was appropriate for a wider audience though I was incredibly honored that he would let me walk with him through such a painful story.

But when Luis’ childhood friend, Raphael, showed up in the middle of that with insights that illuminated this event in Luis’ larger story, that’s when we knew that this story had to be shared. Luis had not seen him in thirty-five years since the night he helped Luis escape from the drug cartel that you can hear about in Episode 5. He is the stranger Luis met in the mountains near his home as a young boy who was either a very gifted human, a fabrication of Luis’ imagination, or most probably an angel who has appeared to Luis in human form to give him wisdom and help him through a time of need.  On Good Friday night this year, Raphael surprised Luis by walking up behind him as he was walking to his car near midnight. Their conversation provided Luis with great clarity and encouragement.  

We’ve waited three months to make sure that the re-telling of the story of his father’s death and its aftermath would be part of a healing process and not prolong his pain. That part of the story is not easy to hear, and listener discretion is advised since there are graphic descriptions of violence, death, and attempted suicide. But how God got a terrified teenager through such a harrowing ordeal, even though Luis had no idea who it was helping him, is well-worth hearing.

Yes, these engagements with Raphael are among the strangest things I’ve ever heard, but there’s no denying that Luis and I are witnessing amazing healing and the unfolding of God’s glory in the darkness.  I’m excited that we can now complete this story.

We’ve completed the recording and are now editing these podcasts to be released on the dates below:

Episode 13 – Terror in the Mountains
July 13

When his dad suffers a heart attack in the mountains with darkness closing in and a pack of coyotes on the prowl, Luis has to find a way to rescue his dad.

 

Episode 14 –  Jumping to the Wrong Conclusion
July 20

Due to an unfortunate mix-up and Luis’ inability to talk, instead of comforting him after his terrible ordeal, his family turns on him calling him a coward and blaming him for his father’s death.

 

Episode 15 – Raphael Returns
July 27

 Thirty-five years later, on a Good Friday night, Raphael appears to Luis with comfort and wisdom to bring healing to the guilt and anguish Luis suffered from his father’s death.

If you haven’t heard the previous episodes yet, you might want to go on a serious binge in the next couple of weeks. You can download it at iTunes or your favorite podcast provider. Just search on “My Friend Luis” or go to the Subscribe page.  This is a story of great grace in the midst of great pain and a God that can heal the deepest wounds of the human heart and set us free to live in his glory.

Any Questions for Luis?

Putting My Friend Luis together as a podcast has truly been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. However, my friendship with Luis is the greater gift here. We continue to share God’s life together as we walk with each other through the twists and turns of life. Doing so continues to open up new vistas in my own God Journey.

Sharing it with the world and interacting with those who that story has touched makes me so grateful God dropped this serendipitous experience into my life. Here’s an example I received in the last week:

By the way, I loved the “My Friend Luis” podcast!  I’m listening again with my husband now because I want to start giving to him and we make those decision together. I believe all that Luis went through and how God was there for him because I know in so many ways God was there for me growing up through all the difficulties I endured until the day I met him!

My husband and I are realizing how extremely different and difficult people’s lives are in Mexico from ours here in the U.S.  While we think we have it bad at times, there is absolutely no comparison! We can become so rigid in our religious and political beliefs of what we think is “right” but this has helped us discover that what we think is right may not be right at all in God’s eyes.  It’s like you’ve mentioned before, when you start getting to know God’s character, you start seeing things differently.  I keep telling my hubby we aren’t from this kingdom, remember!  God can and will do whatever he wants, and I’m so very grateful for that.

For those of you who have already heard the podcast, I know you’re anxiously awaiting a future update, especially because Raphael returned to meet with Luis one evening in April. Unfortunately, we had completed the podcast by then, so it wasn’t part of the original story. However, we will do at least two additional podcasts to do justice to this new part of the story since it isn’t only about Raphael’s return but also why he returned.

We have tried to record, but the timing has just not been right. Before his appearance, Luis came over one day to share a harrowing experience from his childhood that he did not include in the original story. I’d never heard it before, and we have spent hours processing it and the incredible pain it has been to Luis’ journey. To help Luis work through that pain is why Raphael returned. The painful part isn’t ready to be shared yet, but we’re hopeful it will be in the next few weeks. With that context, you’ll see how Raphael’s return has brought a new climax to the My Friend Luis Story. It will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, Luis and I want to share some of our experiences making and releasing this story. So, for those who have listened to it, if you have any observations from listening to our story or questions you would like to pose to either of us, please email them to me. We will record that podcast soon and would love to include your thoughts or questions for him or me. We’ll try to work in as many as we can.

On a personal note, tomorrow Sara and I will begin the two-day drive home from Denver, where we’ve been spending some wonderful time with our son. It has been a welcome respite in the midst of some difficult circumstances and the challenging direction God seems to be asking of us. His ways are always right, even though they are rarely easy.

Embracing the Winds of Change

For those of you following this new story-telling podcast, episode 10 dropped this morning. This begins yet another transition in our story and sets up for what were to be the final two podcasts in this series.

However…

This story has taken yet another turn. I finished my part of editing the final podcast on the morning of Good Friday. I was well into the contentment of having finished a project that had been on my heart for some time. and had taken a lot of time to assemble.

Good Friday night, Raphael returns. Yes, THAT Raphael—the stranger, and most likely an angelic presence, who showed up in Luis’ life as a five-year-old boy searching the mountains for his family’s lost cow that we talk about in Episode 3.  They met many times over the next few years as Raphael cared for Luis when he was being abused in his own family. The same Raphael that returned when Luis was in his young teens and rescued him from the back of a trailer where he was being held as bait to lure Captain Herrera into an ambush.  Luis had not seen him since that night when he was fifteen years old.

Until a few weeks ago. As Luis was locking up a church building after a meeting with the youth and a prayer vigil that followed, to his utter shock he felt Raphael’s presence again and heard footsteps behind him. He turned around to see his old friend, who had not aged a day.  The things they talked about were incredibly timely and put some finishing touches on the story that we can’t leave out. So, there will be at least another episode, maybe two.

If you’re not in this story yet, you might want to be. You won’t want to miss this ending, nor any of it really. I’ve heard and been part of some amazing stories in my life, but this one has transformed my heart in some incredible ways.  You can hear all the episodes at MyFriendLuis.com, or subscribe to it through your favorite podcast provider.

So many people are already listening in and the conversations and emails I’ve received about it are heart-warming as well.  I love how it is touching so many people and helping them see Father’s work in their own life. Here are just two of them I’ve received in the last few days:

“I have soo enjoyed the My Friend Luis series.  The production is so well done and very encouraging. The story is a reminder of the reality of how God is here with us – right now and very present – not somewhere up in the sky and far away. It also serves as a reminder of God’s kindness, his faithfulness, his compassion, his realness, and his love in the life of one of his lambs that was so in need of love—his love.  The whole thing is just so encouraging. I can’t help but grin from ear to ear when I tell others about it. Thank you for taking the time in putting this together and for sharing it!”

*                                *                                *

“This is by far the best or near best you have put together. The story is riveting, compelling, raw, inviting, and full of drama. Hollywood would be eclipsed by this story. I have listened to them all as they have been released and have become immersed in the story. This has to be the backbone of a book!!! if so I would buy it. It is truly amazing! I found myself stopping, grabbing tissue as my own heart’s emotion inflamed within me, “God, you are good, very good.” This is a stunning story of calling and provision. Well done, very well done!”

Father’s Fingerprints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Your Consideration

First an announcement…

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

And now something for your consideration…

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

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

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

A Chronological List of Wayne Jacobsen’s Books

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

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

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

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

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

So, here’s the list.

Chronological List of Wayne’s Titles 

 

My Advice for New Authors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice for Authors

When The Shack was in its heyday, we got many requests from authors about publishing their manuscripts. I wrote the following article for the Windblown Media website to help new authors think through publication options. Almost weekly I get asked about this article, so I am posting it here to make it easier for folks to find.  So, if you’re not interested in writing, please ignore this one, but if you are, here is some advice that is as true today as when I wrote it.

I understand the frustrations and concerns of writers and artists looking to publish their work. The publishing industry is in great flux right now and it is harder than ever for a new writer to attract their attention without a huge platform. Most publishers require you to have an agent to represent you, but I’ve never found one helpful. Fortunately, though, the Internet has become an acquisitions editor for the publishing industry. Never before have writers had such options to inexpensively put their ideas before the public and let their audience grow organically. If you can’t find an audience for your passions and content on the web, a publisher is not going to be able to find it for you.

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

How Can That Happen?

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

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

I have some other ideas if you’re considering the self-published route that you can find in my article: Nine Fatal Mistakes of Self-Publishing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

My Friend Luis Debut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

 

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.

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.

Coming Home to the Sierras

I look forward every year to our time in the Sierras where my 95-year-old father lives. I love everything about this area—the pines and cedars, granite boulders, the blue water of an alpine lake, a starry night sky clear enough to see the Milky Way with ease, wild lupin, the crunching of dirt, pine needles, and sticks underfoot, and the scent of buckbrush wafting on a gentle breeze. My dad and I saw a deer with a young fawn the other day scurry into the trees.

No place on earth beckons my heart as much as the High Sierras.  For me, this is one of those “thin places”, where the distance between the temporal and the eternal doesn’t seem so distant, and it’s a bit easier to sense God’s presence in the Creation and my own heart.  I think clearer here, listen better here, and I’m sure that’s aided by trying not to do too much “work” here. These are our days of vacation and restoration.

We also have a lot of fun with family—long walks with Sara, a conversation with my dad, or enjoying my daughter and her family as they come up to spend a chunk of time with us.  We enjoy playing in the lake, enjoying games in the cabin, and swapping stories over dinner.

That’s why things have been quiet here and why I’m backlogged on answering emails. I’ve got little time or inclination to spend lots of time on a computer here. I did, however, just finish a re-reading of Ruth and how God does such good work out of the messes we make. God didn’t want Israel to intermarry with nonJewish people in their area. Nonetheless, they do. One man moves to Moab and his sons marry Moabite women. After a number of years, the father and both sons tragically die. Because of the faithfulness of one of those wives, Ruth,  to her widowed mother-in-law, God graciously opens a new door for her. She marries Boaz, a wealthy Israelite, and then she becomes part of the lineage of David, and ultimately of Jesus. I love that about God. He is able to work amazing triumph out of great tragedy, even those of our own making.

Here are some other things that might be of interest to you:

Language of Healing Live graphic with book cover

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I will be joining a live Zoom session tomorrow at 2:00 pm PDT with my coauthors of A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor. You won’t want to miss this one.  Lisa Vitello, an actress and facilitator of CultureBrave will guide us through a conversation about Chapter 13, Sharing the Table. Lisa hosted a release event for our new book in Los Angeles when it came out last November. What was planned as a two-hour session went on for almost six. She asked us some of the most incisive questions we’ve encountered to date. It will be a joy to speak with her again.

Language of Healing Live is a continuing series of bi-weekly video conversations to help people learn to live more generously in this divided world. You can view previous ones here.   We will be streaming live at the Language of Healing Discussion Group on Facebook, and I will attempt to post that feed on my Wayne Jacobsen Page there as well.  Join us there live, or watch the video after, which I’ll post here when we’ve finished.

Just a reminder that Part 10 of Embracing His Glory will drop tomorrow over at The God Journey. This is a continuing series about learning to live loved and transformed by the work of Christ. If you haven’t been in on it, start at the beginning. It will make more sense. That will be the last new podcast at The God Journey until I get back to the office. I hope it is helpful for you.

Finally, we are still needing some help with Kenya. The hope is to drill two more wells for two neighboring tribes to the ones we helped over the last five years.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in more detail about the need and why we want to help to protect the resources we’ve already provided to other tribes in the area. The picture at left shows some of them the aid we were able to immediately send them for food, medicine, and protection from the coronavirus.  We have taken in about $34,000 of the $71,000 we need to provide aid and drill the two wells there. As is our custom, Lifestream does not take out any administrative or money transfer fees. Every dollar you send us gets to Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the U.S. Please see our Donation Page at Lifestream. You can either donate with a credit card there, mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1 • Newbury Park, CA 91320, or phone us at (805) 498-7774. 

We never take for granted the people who read these posts and carry us on their hearts as we continue to do what God asks of us in the world. We are blessed by your love, sustained by your prayers, and grateful for your generosity.

We’re Taking a Bit of a Break

This morning we head off in our rented RV to visit our son in Denver. Road Trip!  We are doing this instead of flying so we have our own little coronavirus protective bubble as we traverse four states. So, we have a few miles to cover and a chance to visit with him. Thus, things will be mostly quiet here at Lifestream, though we have new podcasts already set up for The God Journey.

Tuesday, I began a new series I’m really excited about. It is called “Embracing His Glory.” These will be a series of 15-20 minute audio presentations of something I’ve been wanting to share for some time. About six to eight months ago in a fresh read through the book of John, I felt like something had shifted in my heart and I was reading John’s book with fresh eyes, revealing more clearly the process by which Jesus shares with us the Father’s glory. The first one went up yesterday and more will follow in the Tuesdays ahead.  I anticipate 12-13 of these. This is something I first shared publicly in Tulsa on my last stop before the coronavirus hit.

The reason I’m so excited about this is not that I finally figured something out. It’s actually just a fresh way to express what has been going on in my life the last twenty-five years as I’m learning to live loved in the world and the transformation that happens in us as we do.  It’s exactly what Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 3—

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

That Scripture has always intrigued me, even in the old days when I felt the journey was not so much from glory to glory, but from pit to pit—one bad experience after another with long gaps between where God’s glory would be revealed. But the last twenty-five years has been different, not that all my circumstances have been easy, far from it, but through it all the glory of God continues to unfold in my life. It wasn’t what I expected with all the bells and whistles of signs and wonders, but something deeper and far more transformative in the way I engage the world around me.  I thought I’d let you know here, in case you want to follow with me over there.

Sara and I are really looking forward to some time together on the road (sixteen hours each way) and even more so our time with Andy.  If you’ll keep the email load light for the next week, I’ll be grateful. If not, you’ll have to be patient. I’m not sure when I’ll get caught up. When I get back, my dad is having a surgical procedure, so I will be with him through that. But we’ll get back… someday!

 

Language of Healing Goes Live!

God was opening what could have been some incredible doors for A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation before the pandemic shut everything down. People were planning book groups, we had an opening to get this message onto college campuses, and we were asked to do workshops in churches and communities to help people explore a more generous way. So, since those opportunities are on hold and people are limited in building new relationships especially with people in their out-groups, we are taking the message on-line in a series of live conversations to explore a language of healing. Starting this Tuesday, we’ll begin an every-other-week schedule of inviting fifteen people into a conversation about some specific aspect of this book and stream it live as we do.

We have a list of guest-moderators who will put us through our paces as we explore various aspects or applications of the book. Language of Healing Live will begin at 2:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time this Tuesday, May 5.  People will be able to watch the recorded version after. Watch this page and my Facebook Author page for details as to how you can listen in live.

Our first topic will be aimed specifically at people in their late teens, twenties, and thirties and the challenges they face in navigating a polarized world. Kyle Rice of Blue Sheep Media will be our moderator and all three authors—Bob, Arnita and I—will help answer their questions. We are still looking for a few young people to join us in the Zoom room, so if you’re between the ages of 15 and 39 and who have read the book, please let me know if you’d like to apply to be on our panel.

A few other notes:

  • The Jesus Story just posted video #7 as we talk about The journey of Abraham to begin a process of redemption for fallen humanity.
  • I’ll be a guest Monday morning in a live conversation for “Grieving Parents Sharing Hope Together.” The topic will be Anger and Grief and I’ll be hosted by Laura Deihl who helps families deal with death. We will go live at 11 am PDT/2 pm EDT. You can get more information at their website, and find the show at http://www.youtube.com/gpshope.
  • Finally, tomorrow (May 1) I will air a unique podcast at The God Journey, with a woman who cheated on her husband and found the grace to own up to it and walk out of that betrayal to a journey of hope and healing for herself and the marriage. It’s a beautiful picture of how God can reach into our darkest moments and bring redemption and lead us to compassion for others. You won’t want to miss it.

Finally:

I was listening to a podcast the other day and heard this nugget:  “Love does not require agreement; it only requires understanding.” Understanding someone else is where compassion grows. You don’t have to see things the same way to care about people especially those who are still groping in the darkness.

Zooming Through the Pandemic

We certainly live in interesting times. We are experiencing a worldwide event that will shape our planet in ways we can’t even conceive yet. This pandemic has sent most of us to our homes, restricted our travel and extended family time, and put many jobs and businesses in jeopardy. The economic fall-out from this pandemic may last for decades to come.

Going into this season, I thought that self-isolation might be a time of rest for me. Not able to travel and being home here with Sara would give me time to rest and see what’s next for me. But almost immediately, other opportunities began to open up through Zoom. I had become familiar with it while we were writing A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation with Bob and Arnita, but had not had time to explore all it could do. When my grandchildren’s schools were closed, I discussed doing a workshop for them, helping them learn to appreciate and interpret the Scriptures. Before we could even start, I couldn’t be in the same room with them, so I turned to Zoom for The Jesus Story. Now we have quite a few other families going through that conversation with us. 

That helped me explore it even more, mainly because I had to use it for ongoing episodes of The God Journey. I know it’s not a perfect platform. Still, it has opened new doors for communicating with people around the world, not only for podcasts but also just to help and encourage individuals on their journeys like I did when personal visits were allowed. Now groups are asking me to meet with them on Zoom so they can ask questions and process their own journeys. We even started to experiment with an After-Show for The God Journey so that listeners could interact about a recent podcast. We had almost forty people join the last one. I am more engaged with more people than before the pandemic. Who would have thought?

Here are some of the conversations I’ve had recently that you can participate in if you like:

  • A FaceBook Live event with Rod Tucker, a pastor in an urban setting in Michigan, looking to help a group of people live and love in a needy part of town.
  • A podcast with The Fields Brothers about the transitions in my life that happened as God unhooked me from religious obligation and drew me into a greater connection with him.
  • Last week’s podcast at The God Journey was called Why Won’t God Love Me? It was a conversation I had with someone in the UK who had little sense of God’s love for them, even though they saw him love others through them. Many people related to his struggle, and last Sunday afternoon, I hosted my second God Journey After-Show. We had over 35 people join us from all over the world to share their observations and experiences. You can listen to that After-Show here.
  • And, The Jesus Story #6 aired this week, covering the Creation and Fall of humanity.

I’m sure your life has changed, too, and will continue to in ways you cannot yet conceive. I am asked a lot how I see this pandemic shaping the church or if it portends the end of this age. I don’t have a clue, and honestly, I don’t even find myself curious. The best way to be ready for anything is simply to follow the nudges he has for you today and to love the people he puts in your path. I find myself increasingly suspicious of those who prophesy apocalyptic outcomes from this pandemic with such certainty, especially when it fits so neatly into their desired outcomes. We just don’t know. Rather than try to figure it out, perhaps we could just let it unfold, finding our comfort in the God who is with us, rather than any imagined outcome we’d prefer.

God has got this. He’s got you. He’s been through this before and knows how best to help us through it. I find it far better to draw close to him each day, follow him as best I see him, and err on the side of loving others as I am loved by him. His glory will unfold even out of pain and tragedy. He continues to bring order out of the chaos of a broken world. If you start expecting a specific outcome, though, you may miss what he’s actually doing.

I pray that you, too, will find greater freedom in this season. Look for the unique ways Jesus might be guiding you in this season where your regular routines have been disrupted. 

You just might discover him in new and profound ways.

The Visible Becomes Invisible Again

As Jesus’s body ascends to the Father, the disciples could no longer see him as they did before. But it wasn’t long until they discovered that Jesus had come to live in them by his Spirit and now they would be the vessels through whom Jesus would make himself known in the world.  Then the message spread throughout the known world and invited us all into a new adventure, learning to walk with Jesus.

The Jesus Story is an adaption of The Jesus Lens for my grandchildren (ages 9-15) and anyone else that cares to look over my shoulder.  I want to give them an appreciation for the Bible, that has been the most valuable book I know to help me learn to live inside the Father through the work of Jesus.   There will be thirteen episodes in this season as we cover the whole story of Scripture, which is really a story about Jesus.

You can join us live if you like on the Facebook Group we created for this little venture or follow each new video as they appear on The Jesus Story Page here on Lifestream.

(If you don’t see the video above, please click here.)

When the Invisible Became Visible

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory…”

Reading about Jesus in The Gospels can help you learn to recognize the voice and the work of the Risen Jesus as he draws you into a relationship with him today. That’s the theme of the second episode of The Jesus Story, now available online.

The Jesus Story is an adaption of The Jesus Lens for my grandchildren (ages 9-15) and anyone else that cares to look over my shoulder.  I want to give them an appreciation for the Bible, that has been the most valuable book I know to help me learn to live inside the Father through the work of Jesus.   There will be thirteen episodes in this season as we cover the whole story of Scripture, which is really a story about Jesus.

You can join us live if you like on the Facebook Group we created for this little venture or follow each new video as they appear on The Jesus Story Page here on Lifestream.

(If you don’t see the video above, please click here.)

 

The Scripture as a Treasure Map

Well, we did it! We got through the first session of what we are now calling The Jesus Story. It is a simplification of The Jesus Lens, helping my grandchildren (ages 9-15) have an appreciation for the value of the Bible and some tools to help them enjoy it for the rest of their lives.  We are just letting a lot of other people look over our shoulder and find a way to apply it in their own family.

Yes, we already changed the title because the whole book is about Jesus—who he is, why he came, and how he wants to connect us with the Father. This first lesson compares the Bible to a treasure map, with Jesus as the treasure.  We will be taping these live at 11:00 am Pacific Daylight time on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. You can join us if you like on the Facebook Group we created for this little venture:  The Jesus Story.

(For those of you seeing this on our mailing list, click link here.)

This and all future videos will be listed on The Jesus Story Page, as they are completed. I hope it helps a lot of kids find great value in a book that will help them discover the true treasure—a growing relationship with the Risen Jesus.

The Scripture Story

Beginning this Thursday, my daughter Julie and I will be offering a twice-a-week online class about The Story of Scripture. Originally designed as a brief course for my grandkids during the pandemic, we also decided to make it available to other interested families. This class will explore the story that runs through all of Scripture and how it connects us with the Living Jesus as he makes himself known in each of our hearts today. It is an adaptation of the material Wayne taught in The Jesus Lens, which is available for free on this website and takes the view that Scripture is a progressive revelation of who God is and how we can engage him and his unfolding purpose in the world.

No you won’t see Julie on camera, most likely, though I’ve offered to split the sessions with her. She is doing all the behind-the-scenes work, though, and I’m really grateful to be on another project with her. My grandkids are 15, 12, and 9 and I’ll be working to help engage them with this incredible story, but I also suspect adults who haven’t taken the time to work through the full Jesus Lens will find it helpful as well. While The Jesus Lens directly addresses those who have experienced a real disconnect from Scripture because of “teachers” who have abused them with the Bible, we will not be addressing that here. We will be starting fresh to uncover the treasures and mysteries this book contains that can help people recognize the voice of Jesus in their own life today.

The classes will be about twenty minutes long and start at 11:00 am Pacific Daylight Time, Thursday, March 26. They will continue on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for 13 sessions. For those who can’t join us live, the videos will be available afterwards for you to share with your kids when it’s convenient for you. If you’re interested in further details, please join The Scripture Story Facebook Group to get updated announcements and the link to the live feed.

The video instruction will still be available after we record, if you can’t join us live. Also, we will provide a place at Lifestream.org to contain the full class and handouts as we progress, so you’ll be able to watch it ten years from now if you can wait until then.

This is an experiment. I’ve not done on-line teaching before, nor tried to scale this down for young ages. After the twenty-minute video lesson, I’m hoping you’ll spend some extra time helping your own children by answering questions or sharing with them what you think of the lesson. Julie and I did a brief podcast about this which you can listen to here.  It can give you more details and ideas.

Of course, we reserve the right to cancel this whole thing if it turns out to be not very helpful. I feel like a little kid standing on the high dive about to jump in for the first time, and I still want the freedom to walk back down the ladder if I need to.  🙂

Grounded!

A week ago, who could have imagined all the changes our country would make to help stem the spread of the coronavirus? California has now closed all bars and pubs and is limiting any public events to fifty people or less. Doctors are recommending we limit contact to even fewer—as much as our work might require, and with close family and friends.
Consequently, Sara and I have been praying about and rethinking all of my (our) travel. We have decided to postpone all future trips until our nation gets a handle on this virus. That may not be a momentous decision since I’m hearing that domestic air travel is likely to end soon anyway. Whatever the case, I don’t want to be the cause of spreading the virus especially by getting people together over a broad geographical area. Also, Sara and I are in the age demographic that has been asked to stay close to home. Fortunately, that doesn’t affect our daily walk with the dogs, when we can get them in between the now-frequent and much-needed rainstorms flowing into our state.

I’m sorry for the inconvenience this causes for those who have planned to join me in various locations. I’m thinking of you, Michigan and Wichita, and probably even Europe in June. However, since we are all being asked to make sacrifices, we feel it important to do our part as well. I will reschedule those trips as soon as we are cleared to travel again.

These are undoubtedly challenging times, and no doubt will try us as a society in ways we cannot foresee in weeks and months ahead. We’ve already seen problems created by panic buying of groceries and goods, even though the supply line to restock stores has not been impacted at all. This is not the time for fear to drive our selfishness, but for measured action for ourselves, and generosity toward others. My prayer is that you will find God a safe and powerful refuge through the health and economic challenges you may face and that you find generous ways to reach out to others impacted as well, especially those on the margins of society. Look for ways to live kindly, generously, and without fear. God will do some amazing things in this season and hopefully adjust some of the skewed priorities we fall into in the routines of life.

I also have some new writing and audio projects that I’ve wanted to tinker with, so I’m excited to make use of the added time at home. I also get to have more time with Sara, which is fantastic. Fortunately, we still have phones, FaceTime, and Skype to stay in touch with others. Even a conversation with someone you love can provide a welcomed distraction from all the decisions that need to be made in these strange times.

There’s a wooden placard on the wall above our fireplace that contains the words of an old hymn.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
     how vast beyond all measure…

Those are really the best words of that hymn since it imagines the cross in a way I don’t anymore, but those words are a treasure. His love for you is deep. Even a world in chaos is not outside his grace and work. He knows where you are today, he knows what you fear and knows how to comfort your heart and hold you during these difficult times. Keep in mind, this is just a coronavirus. They have come and gone before and will again. As a society, we are making some changes to keep as many people safe as possible. There will be hardship, but hardship isn’t always a bad thing, especially as it reshapes our hearts to be more in line with his. He’s got you even in this. So, embrace what change is coming and, most importantly, embrace Jesus in it, and you’ll find in the end, your heart will more freely belong to him.

Abandon Your Agenda and Embrace His

I was invited this week to appear on Joseph Warren’s podcast, The Broken Catholic, where he asked me to share some of my story. We had a great conversation about what it means to find our way into a meaningful and transformational life with Jesus.  We talk about how we can align our hearts to make it easier to recognize how Father is making himself known.

Here’s the link if you want to hear it. Yes, the website is a bit more self-promotional than I love, but different strokes for different folks, right? I hope it doesn’t discourage you from taking it in if you’d like.

Also, the second half of my conversation with Richard Hanes of Richmond, VA aired yesterday.  We talk about how that whenever something God is doing gets big enough it is commandeered by humanity as a way to attempt to control him, (which always fails) or to profit from it (which works for some). When that happens, those who are still hungry for God and not just “revival” are vilified by those who want to maintain the illusion.

I’ve had a great day in Enid, OK, today, though it has been full-on in fairly intense conversations from 7:00 this morning until almost 9:00 tonight. The only “alone-time” I had today was for two miles of a four-mile walk. But I’ve enjoyed the things we are talking about and the hunger and experience many of these people have had that has opened up a rich conversation.  So, I went to bed last night really grateful for the doors God has opened here and with prayers that God works beyond our religious inhibitions to find the reality of his gift—Christ in us, the hope of glory!”

Some Possibilities in Europe

I’ll be in Europe this summer from May 15 until June 8. Some of that is personal, and some of that is available for whatever Father might have in mind.  I’ll be in the north of Europe and I have some free time between May 28 and June 2. So, if Father has something on your heart to bring some people together around living-loved or relational community and want me to join you, please let me know so we can begin to pray about it.

Also, from June 3-10 a group of believers from throughout Europe will be gathering in Sweden for a week of relaxation and fellowship. My friends from Ireland are hosting this event and a bunch of them will be joining us.  We will be in Örsa, Sweden at the Trunna Hostel and Conference Centre. Örsa is situated to the north of the city of Mora close to Lake Siljan, a beautiful part of Sweden and very popular as a holiday destination. The surrounding county of Dalarna has much to offer and is a haven for hikers and sightseers and anyone who loves the great outdoors.   It is also regarded as the cultural and historical heart of Sweden.  You can find pictures of the Trunna center at: www.trunna.se.

If you’d like to join us there, or have something else in mind for the weekend before, please let me know.