Behind the Scenes

Trauma Conversations and Book Clubs

Manipulative people detest when they lose their power over someone else’s. Manipulation is a game constantly played in human relationships. We often get caught in it because we love the people playing, and we don’t want to risk losing their friendship if we don’t keep them happy. Such a life, however, will not lead you to joy but to greater confusion and pain.

It is never easy to bear the brunt of someone else’s brokenness. Their use of anger and false accusations to manipulate others creates an environment where tender, gracious relationships get lost. For many, it’s a religious game. Thinking they know God’s best for you, they will stop at nothing to get you to please them or judge your salvation when you don’t. If they don’t come to see that, they will constantly up the ante until playing their game eventually begins to eat at your soul. You can go along with it for a season, hoping it’s just a temporary blind spot for them, but when they start gossiping about you or gaslighting you, you have to step away. Seeking a relationship of mutual respect and tenderness becomes impossible. That’s when you got to let Jesus lead you out of the game, even if it risks a relationship you hold dear.

We talked about that last week in our Jake Colsen Book Club. Chapter 8 of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore lets Jake see how human relationships get easily twisted. Here are some excerpts from that chapter:

Just remember Jesus is not worried about tomorrow because he has already worked that out. He’s inviting you to live with him in the joy of the moment, responding to what he puts right before you.

The approval you felt then came from the same source as the shame you feel now. That’s why it hurts so much when you hear their rumors or watch old friends reject you. Truth be told, some of those people still really care about you. They just don’t know how to show it now that you no longer play on their team. They’re not bad people, Jake, just brothers and sisters lost in something that is not as godly as they think it is.

Now you know what that’s like from the other side and one of the big things Jesus is doing in you now is to free you from the game, so that you can live deeply in him rather than worrying about what everyone else thinks about you. As long as you need other people to understand you and to approve of what you’re doing, you are owned by anyone willing to lie about you.

Since Sara and I have had to stay a bit closer to home as she recovers from rotator-cuff surgery, we’ve been using Zoom to continue engaging with others worldwide through the Jake book discussions and the Wrestling with Trauma conversations. We will hold another Wrestling with Trauma conversation on Sunday, February 5, at 11:00 am PST. You’ll have to do the math to determine what might be in your time zone. If you’d like to join us this week, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link, but don’t worry, we will have more such times. These are not teaching sessions, nor will they build on each other. Each will be a conversation to serve those who join us and help encourage them to the Way Jesus wants to lead them through the pain of trauma into his increasing freedom. These conversations are not streamed live or recorded. They are for the personal benefit of those who can join us. You can even join in anonymously if you prefer.

And for those interested in the next Jake Colsen Book Club, we will hold the next discussion of  So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore on Saturday, February 4, at 1:30 pm. We will move on to Chapter 8: Unplayable Lies, where we’ll explore how God wants to lead us out of the hard places some of our choices have put us in and, while doing so, teach us how to trust him and his wisdom. You can email me if you’d like a link for that. Anyone can join in; we only ask that you re-read that chapter so it’s fresh in your mind. You can also listen live (or afterwards) as we stream it on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.

If you’d like to listen to the previous conversations, here are the links to these videos:

Chapter 2 – A Walk in the Park
Chapter 5 – Love with a Hook



Lessons of a Lifetime

This blog is a copy of our Winter 2023 newsletter that we sent out earlier this morning. You can sign up here if you want to be on that list.

Winter 2023

This past year has been quite a roller coaster for Sara and me, and we are both so grateful for all the love, support, prayers, and words of insight that many of you have shared with us along this stretch of the journey. We have also been richly blessed that our story has encouraged others of you to take a deeper look into their own story or marriage and to lean into the greater grace that allows the life of God to shine even brighter. The community surrounding us has enriched our journey with wisdom and encouragement and has lightened our load, as I hope we have theirs.

That said, I also know that our story has been painful for some people to hear. It can be incredibly challenging for those suffering similar pain or darkness who have not yet found their way through it. One person told me they couldn’t finish Wayne’s Happiest Day Ever because my joy was just too overwhelming for them. I understand how someone who’s stuck could feel that way, and I’m always sorry to hear I’ve added to one’s pain. At the same time, however, I wanted people to know that moments of agony can also be followed by seasons of great joy. Sara and I want nothing more in this season than to encourage those who feel adrift in their journey. Father loves you, too, and has a way forward for you.

Ten days ago, we arrived home in Southern California after traveling 7,693 miles across 23 s, having hundreds of deeply moving conversations with dear friends as well as making many more new ones. We are now living in an apartment contended with joy and gratitude for all that Father has done. Many are asking us what’s next; honestly, we have no idea.

As we look at the days ahead, all we see is a blank canvas. We’re not sure where we will live or what kind of life Father has for us beyond the continued healing of Sara’s traumatic past and our ever-deepening relationship. We are having fun, reveling in the Father’s work and the newfound freedom Sara is discovering daily. We will continue here as we did on the road—taking one day at a time and seeing what seems good to the Spirit and to us.

One thing that means is for us to be incredibly still in December. Over the next month, you’ll hear very little from me. We’re going to take some time to settle into apartment living, look for the next home we hope Father has for us, and to see where all that leads us. So, these will likely be the last public words I write in 2022. I will also not be recording any new podcasts beyond the one airing on December 2.

Good friends tell me that they don’t always keep up with my podcast, and I don’t blame them. There are almost 900 of them back there, and after listening for a  year or two, they mostly have the gist of the important things I share with the world. But the podcasts of the last two years have many notable exceptions. I have learned more in the past two years than I have discovered during any similar period. I had no idea how much I would need that wisdom to walk with God in the unforeseen situations I have faced. Even before we were confronted with Sara’s unresolved childhood trauma, God shaped so many things in my heart to help me walk through it with my eyes and heart firmly on him.

If you missed our story this year, you could catch up by listening to the seven consecutive podcasts we called Redeeming Love. If you’ve missed the best insights I’ve had over those two years, let me give you some other referrals of what Father was teaching me before the events even happened and what he showed me through them. I had no idea the last two years would be such a crash course in learning to follow Jesus, preparing me for those moments when I would have nothing or no one else to rely on.

In a profound invitation to prayer a couple of years ago, I felt like I was in Gethsemane with Jesus. Every time I prayed, I had a foreboding sense that something devastating was about to happen to me and that I would need to be in a place to respond to God’s heart some future moment over my inclinations. I thought that would have something to do with my message to the world, and I had no idea that it would be a challenge far greater and far closer to home. That “Gethsemane prayer” lasted for three months. It was a fantastic season of yielding to him, without which I would have been able to endure the strange and painful circumstances that unfolded in my life over the last two years.

During that time, I also learned to Gaze with God at the circumstances before me rather than only gazing at him as I offered him my prayer requests. Just recognizing that God has a different view of almost everything than I do, shaped my heart in beautiful ways. Now I sit with him, looking at whatever is before me and asking him how he sees it. Sometimes that takes a few minutes, but his perspective often unfolds over days and weeks. When his view settles in my heart, it gives me a different way to respond than I would have in the past. His ways almost always challenge me, and I take a significant measure of trust to take the road he has for me.

After my Gethsemane season passed and while I waited to see what might come of it, Jesus taught me that the essence of living loved is to be secure in his love, at rest in his power, and enjoying his playfulness. We called it Love, Rest, and Play. Not only has this opened fresh doors in relating to him, but it has also begun to shape my relationships with others, most of all with Sara. Learning to love, being at rest with each other, and being playful is the essence of healthy relationships.

Now, Riding the Wind of his Spirit is less complicated and not as hard to discern. Sensing the movement of God in and around the relationships or challenges of circumstances lets me know my place in them—what I can fix and mostly what I can’t. God moves at a very different pace than I do, which is why I often find myself often Running Ahead of Him instead of letting him move first when the time is ripe. When God asked me to slow down to Sara’s pace, I eventually realized that Father’s pace is slower yet. That’s not because he doesn’t care; it’s that he does real stuff, not cosmetic fix-ups. When I live slower, I recognize him more efficiently, and I’m not caught up in the frantic pace of 21st Century life.

It has also shaped my prayer life, showing me how to Hold Space in Prayer over time for a loved one or even for specific groups of people around the world, such as my friends in Kenya, traumatized people, or those in bondage to religious obligation. Instead of throwing a bunch of requests for God to do what I think best, I can sit with them in Father’s presence as his work unfolds. Prayer has become so much more meaningful and effective.

I now appreciate fully what Annie Dillard calls The Scandal of Particularity. God’s work is so intimate that he works quite differently with each of his children and with such particular interventions that there’s no way to mass produce it. Most things that matter cannot be codified into principles or steps others can follow. If we’re going to help people find Jesus’ salvation, we will want to offer them A Caring Heart and a Listening Ear. (That last podcast, with a friend from Oklahoma City, is probably the most powerful conversation I’ve ever had about real ministry and how his kingdom comes into the world.)  This season has also redefined my view of salvation and how we have so cheapened it by making it about heaven and hell instead of Jesus rescuing us from the brokenness of this Creation and the delusions of darkness.

So, here are some resources that might equip you during this month or as the new year begins. Much of this unfolds in the Transforming Love podcasts that will comprise the heart of the new book I’m working on: So, You Really Want to Follow Jesus? We will finish that series in a couple more podcasts early in 2023.

Sara and I want you to know the fullness of his freedom, not just in eternity, but more importantly in the present. That’s what his salvation was meant to do—bind up the brokenhearted and set the oppressed free. And as you learn to live in his love, it will serve you well also to discover how to gaze with God in prayer, how to recognize his nudges that will guide you through the trails and opportunities coming your way, and be equipped to bring his kingdom into the world with a caring heart and a listening ear into the world around you.

And now, here are a few things that might be of interest:

So, as Sara and I begin this time of reflection and rest, discovering how God wants us to build a life of love in this next season, we pray that you have all the light and courage that you need to continue to follow him, too, and see what glory he has to unfold in your life with each passing day.

A Pathway to Living Loved

Tomorrow, I’ll post my last blog of the year. I’m excited to share that with you, but I woke up this morning with a desire to respond to many of the emails I get about helping people discover just how deeply loved they are by God.

My email box often vacillates between two kinds of emails. Many are grateful for my book, He Loves Me, and tell me how reading that book changed the trajectory of their entire spiritual journey. For the first time, they came to know how much God loved them and began to realize their freedom from the boredom and bondage of religious obligation.

I get many others that are quite the opposite, people pleading for help. “You talk about a love of God I don’t know. Can you help me find him?” Or, “I have never been able to feel the love of God.” It’s these emails I care about most. I realize some of them have read He Loves Me, but most have not. I realize books alone cannot convince you that God loves you. That’s his to do. But I also know that He Loves Me, and the free audio Transition, can help you create the mental environment to dislodge the paralysis of religious thinking enough so that you can recognize God as he is making himself known to you.

Every day, God is surrounding you with his love, knocking on your heart so that you can discover it. However, the way we’ve learned to navigate the world or try to perform to appease God draws our eyes away from his fingerprints and presence just to survive the challenges or distractions of daily life. For those of you who feel lost in discovering how loved you are, please give some time to these two resources. Better yet, find a couple of friends to read or listen with you, so that your conversations can encourage the truth of his love to fill your heart.

Many have also found Live Loved Free Full, a daily devotional I wrote a couple of years ago, to be just the daily encouragement they need to set their heart before God in a way that allows them to be re-centered in his love each day. This book contains a thought a day to invite you into the relational space where you can recognize God’s thoughts in you.

These are also great gifts to give to others if you still haven’t found all the Christmas gifts you need for friends and family.  And, to help, I’ve discounted them both. You can pick up Live Loved Free Full for $14.00, and He Loves Me for $10.00 until Christmas Eve. Better yet, get them both for $24.00.

Find the love he has for you. It will change everything!

And if you already have, share the love so people around you can find that freedom as well.


Our Readers Are So Amazing

Sara and I arrived in Ohio yesterday in what seems to be an incredibly providential sense of timing. For the last week, Sara has had a new emerging memory about a harrowing childhood incident, and its unfolding climaxed on her birthday last Thursday.   We think this may prove to be a tremendous gift from God. Sshe has never enjoyed celebrating her birthday, but she didn’t know why until this all unfolded.

As the memory was clarifying last Thursday night in which three family members were complicit in her abuse, she suddenly realized it was on the day of her sixth birthday. Also, as we’ve been nearing Ohio, there has been a growing apprehension in her heart about returning to the scene of the crime just by being back in Ohio, where she grew up.

As we shared some of that around a firepit last night with a group God brought together near Indy, several people had the impression that this was God redeeming not just Sara’s life but her story. It appears this recovering memory timed at this point in our journey is his way of restoring her past and her birthday. There is no darkness he cannot redeem, no loss that his love cannot restore.

So, we’ll see what more God does this week, but I swear I am in the middle of the most amazing work of transformation I’ve ever witnessed this close at hand. The revelations, the responsiveness, and the redemption are so incredibly beautiful to behold as Father is inviting Sara into exquisite freedom.

Also, I want to add my thanks to Michael and Thomas below for the money many of you sent to help in Kenya. Within a few days of my posting their request for money to help starving tribes in the north, we had the total amount to send to them. The picture above is the food already being distributed to the people near Turkana. Thank you so much for holding these dear people in your heart and for responding with such kindness and generosity.

I received this from the team there the other day:

Dear brother Wayne and the team, may the Lord bless all of you over there for the quick response.

We have come to this place since we first drilled wells here eight years ago.   Reaching this place actually is extremely hard. We took around eight hours driving through the bad terrains and loose stones – that make our truck o slip.

But we still in this place. Our truck has been completely damaged the engine and gearbox, after the first destination of food donations because we had another hired truck that was able to move on and continue distributing the food.

We shall be here till we complete the feeding program and share the message of Christ. Brother Wayne, we were really surprised to see the people who cannot be able to access medical and school in this region. The people in this area are so far behind, like they are in the 1950s.  We are so grateful to share the message of Christ and food. Thank you so much for stretching your hands towards the needs, so we are making sure that the donation of food is reaching everybody, although it cannot be enough for all people.

If we could get another 200 bags of maize, we can extend to more families which will help them for a while. We also appreciate the government for distributing dozens of bundles of food in far end northern parts of Kenya  


Brother Michael and Thomas

The needs continue here, including truck repair and more food. If you are moved to help them, we’d be happy to pass your gift along to them. As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer fees

Please see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to “@LifestreamMinistries” or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Thank you for your consideration and prayers for the people of Kenya.

One final thing: There is an imposter out there with a Facebook page and Instagram account that mimics mine in graphics and posting. It is labeled “Pastor-Wayne Jacobsen.” I’ve tried to get Facebook to remove it, and they haven’t. He uses this and a Venmo account to try to raise funds from this audience. Please, be aware of this scam. That money is going into his pocket and not the needs you think you’re giving to. The ‘Pastor’ title gives it away. I do not use that title in anything I do, nor ever will.

The Jake Colsen Book Club – Chapter 6

The next meeting of the Jake Colsen Book Club has been set. For those interested, we work through So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore chapter by chapter in a series of Zoom sessions where you can share your insights or ask questions.  You don’t have to have been to a previous one to join this one. 

This Saturday September 24, at 11 am PDT, we will gather with those who want to discuss Chapter 6: Loving Father or Fairy Godmother?  This strikes to the heart of so many people’s expectations of God, especially if they are wanting to explore the depths of his love for them.

Please read or re-read the chapter first if you want to join the conversation.

If you’d like to join me in the Zoom room for the discussion, email me at in the next few days, and I will send you the link to join us.  For those who just want to watch, I’ll be streaming it from my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.

You can also find the five previous conversations of the Book Club if you scroll down that Author Page.

Glad That’s Over!

What a crazy weekend! We packed up 47 years of married life and had to find a place for those things in an 1100 square foot apartment, a 330 sq ft motor home, and even after we gave loads of stuff away we still needed to rent some storage bays. Thanks to the help of some dear friends, we got it all buttoned up and hit the road in our “Living Loved” RV at 2:30 on Tuesday! (Yes, we were both exhausted when we took that photo minutes ahead of hitting the road.)

It took us a while to get out of LA traffic, navigating around five accidents, but we finally arrived in Barstow. It’s a trip across the desert today to Flagstaff, AZ. We are on our way.

Our hearts are full and our future uncertain. First, we’ve got to get to a retreat this weekend in Colorado, and then our schedule is wide open. We will spend a week or so in the Denver area to see our son, head north to Wyoming to see Jess and Kyle, and then perhaps turn eastward through Iowa and into the Midwest. The reason we are posting our location is so that people in the area can contact us if they want to connect as we go through their area.

I’ve begun sharing short videos of my thoughts and reflections on Reels on my Instagram feed from time to time. If you’re not linked up there, you might want to be at: “wayneatlifestream”. They also cross post to my FB Author Page.

And, yes, we are overwhelmed with email from the Redeeming Love podcasts at The God Journey. We will get them answered, but give me some time. Sara and I have been deeply touched by your love and compassion, as well as supportive comments. It’s not easy to go public with some of the things we’ve been through, and yes some people are already weaponizing this story make judgments against us. It still amazes me that people can hear that story and not have compassio for what Sara went through, regardless of what you may not like about me.

In the last gathering of The Jake Colsen Book Club, we discussed how love and honesty are a threat to those living in the darkness. It’s why so many feel the need to hide their story or lie to family and friends just to maintain their relationships. In the long run, it just isn’t worth it. Any friendship you have to lie to keep isn’t truly a friendship. You can view that conversation here.

Our hearts are overwhelmed with so many of you who have also suffered from traumtizing events that went unrecognized or untreated for far too long. So many have told us how little patience their Christian friends have to hold their story and their healing, growing weary of hearing about pain from “so many years ago.”  “Can’t you just forgive, and forget?” they are often asked. They don’t understand that traumatic abuse—whether it be sexual, emotional, physical or neglect—twists something in the brain that changes the way they see life in the present. Without processing those past events in a safe and secure environment, their brains won’t heal. Having someone walk with them in their darkness is one of the greatest gifts they can be given.

Even if you haven’t suffered trauma, learn about it. There are amazing resources available to help you understand your own trauma, or hold the trauma of your spouse, friends, or even strangers who need a safe place to explore their healing.

Here are some of them:

And if you don’t care enough to learn about trauma, please don’t try to help someone struggling with it and certainly don’t put them off by your impatience. I’ve listeend to Sara process her struggle over and over again, as she gains greater footing in Father’s freedom with each re-telling until it no longer impacts the way she lives today. For those who have no tenderness and only want to make accusations, you have no idea how you how you are working against God’s desire to bring them into healing and freedom. What they need is your love, mercy, and support.

And for those of you struggling with dark places in your past, don’t ever give up finding a path to healing. Father has one for you. Trauma is something that happened to you in the past; it doesn’t have to own your present or your future. Our hearts are wtih you in your struggle that you will find all the healing God has for you and supportive voices to walk with you.

Well, time to move on today. I’m going to miss those “office days” of yore, but for now there are more important things on the front burner.

Love With a Hook

John happens upon Jake while he is fishing on the shore of Nellie Lake, eight thousand feet up in the Sierra Mountains and a five-mile hike from the nearest road. Here’s a snippet of their conversation:

“If I remember right, doesn’t your marquee out front promise, WHERE LOVE IS A WAY OF LIFE!

It took me a moment to even remember what he was talking about.  “It’s been up there so long I don’t think anyone even pays attention to it anymore.”

“Obviously.”  John let out a chuckle.

“You find it funny?”  I snapped, not seeing the humor in any of this.

“I’d say more ironic than funny, but that’s the problem with institutions, isn’t it?  The institution provides something more important than simply loving each other in the same way we’ve been loved. Once you build an institution together, you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even love gets redefined as that which protects the institution and unloving as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love.”

“It’s love with a hook.  If you do what we want, we reward you.  If not, we punish you.  It doesn’t turn out to be about love at all.  We give our affection only to those who serve our interests and withhold it from those who do not.”

“What a mess!”

“Do you see how painful it is?  That’s why institutions can only reflect God’s love as long as those in it agree on what they’re doing.  Every difference of opinion becomes a contest for power.”

That’s from Chapter 5 of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore and will be the subject of the next gathering of  The Jake Colsen Book Club. We will meet this Saturday, August 20, at 1:00 pm PDT. It will stream live on my Wayne Jacobsen Author page on Facebook, but if you want to be in the Zoom room and part of the discussion, email me so I can send you the link. We’ll explore how religious-thinking people often put demands and expectations on their understanding of God’s love, which makes it something other than the love God has for us.

How do we live authentic lives in a world that often punishes honesty and vulnerability?

Into the Wind

Here are two important items I want my friends to know:

First, the next gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club will be next Saturday, August 20, at 1:00 pm PDT. I know that’s a bit early in Australia and a bit late for Europe, but I’ve got people from both asking to be included. So, we’re trying a different time. It will stream live on my Wayne Jacobsen Author page on Facebook, but if you want to be in the Zoom room and part of the discussion, email me so I can send you the link.  We’ll be looking at Chapter Five: Love with a Hook, how religious people often put demands and expectations on love, which make it something other than the love God has for us. How do we live authentic lives in a world that often punishes honesty and vulnerability?

Second, I want to invite you to a retreat in Westcliffe, Colorado the weekend of August 26-29, to spend the weekend with Sara and me as we begin this next phase of our lives. For those who have been listening to Redeeming Love at The God Journey, you know the incredible journey we’ve been on these past four months, with the enemy’s attempts to twist Sara’s trauma to destroy her, then, failing that, set out to destroy our marriage. The first five weeks were the most excruciating season of my life, but in the last eleven weeks, I’ve had a ringside seat to watch the most incredible miracle I’ve ever seen in Father resurrecting our love and resolving the trauma that has preyed on Sara since she was four years old.

I told you this would change the trajectory of my life, though I had no idea what that meant when I said it, and to be honest, I still don’t. But, Sara has wanted to go on an adventure, embrace her newfound innocence and explore God’s work in her in this phase of our life. So, we’ve sold our home, something we’ve talked about doing for a long time, even before this trauma hit. We will live out of the apartment Sara rented for the time being and explore the world with an RV we have purchased and our two big dogs—Zoey and Abby. We’re calling it our Return to Innocence Tour, and we’re going to kick it off with a gathering in Westcliffe, CO, where we have been offered a ranch in the Rockies as a place to invite our friends to come and be with us for the weekend.

The camp only holds about thirty, and it’s coming up very quickly, so you’ll need to sign up with me if you want to come. The cost is $100 per night per person, which includes meals. We’ll start on Friday night and stay over until Monday. You’re welcome to join us for all that or leave on Sunday if you need to. Anyone who feels so stirred is welcome to join us. We have no plans for the weekend other than to be with each other and before the Lord together to see how he might enlighten and encourage all of our journeys. It will be a place to be loved and be refreshed in this wondrous love, which he has invited us to share with him. (If you are flying, Colorado Springs is the closest airport, but you can use Denver (usually much cheaper) and have about a three-hour drive to the ranch.)

After the retreat, Sara and I are going “into the wind” for a season. We’re not setting up an itinerary but will allow the Spirit to blow us as we sense he desires. We are going to celebrate this phase of our journey with some sightseeing, meeting with people along the way who want to interact with us, and taking some time in some beautiful spaces to work on the book I’ve been writing. We’re not going to be in a hurry, and we’re not going to plan very far ahead. After Westcliffe, we will spend some time in Denver with our son, probably head to Wyoming to spend a few days with Kyle and Jess, and then turn east and see where the wind takes us. I have some folks in Michigan and Indiana I’d planned on visiting before the days of my unforeseen circumstances began, so we’re going to aim that way, but only God knows if we end up that far or even get to go beyond that.

Please let me know if you’re in those areas and want to connect with us should we pass through. We will update people with our progress as we go on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Facebook Page and this blog as well as the spontaneous opportunities that might await as we travel. And if we can’t make it to your place, maybe you can meet us somewhere where we are. Come sit with us under the awning of the RV and share God’s goodness.

Plans now include returning in November for some surgical procedures Sara and I need to attend to before striking out again as the Spirit might lead. We really have no plans other than those. We know God is inviting us to an uncertain journey, where we flow with his Spirit rather than fit him around our schedules. Even that was tested in the last few days. On the day our house was sold, another home appeared on the market, just what Sara and I had been looking for. We put in an offer, but when the owners countered back, we both had concluded that as wonderful as it was, the process of buying it now was a distraction from the freedom God wanted us to revel in. So, for the first time in 44 years, Sara and I will not own any real estate on the planet, and we’ll be free to go wherever Father might send us for as long as he might want us there. I’m still amazed at how easy it was to let that home go when we knew God was inviting us on an uncertain adventure and that we didn’t need to nail down a new home before we left.

Two days later, someone sent me a quote of mine from a few years back: “If you’re looking for certainty, you’re living in the wrong kingdom.”

It’s fun when your own words come back to encourage you. We are grateful that at this season of our lives, we can spend some quality time together and discover who God wants us to meet and encourage along the way.

Perhaps even you!


Where Love Thrives

Love can only thrive where truth reigns.

Thirty-five years ago, Sara and I had some friends over for dinner. At the end of the evening, as we walked with them to their car, the husband pulled me aside to tell me something. “Do you know that you talked about yourself all night and what you’re excited about but never once asked about what I’m doing?”

I was embarrassed beyond words, but fortunately, I didn’t retreat to my defenses. I thought through the night and realized to my horror that he was right. I told him he was right and how sorry I was to be so focused on myself.

As painful as it was to hear, his comments were a wonderful gift to me and changed my awareness of others in every conversation I’ve had since. He didn’t have to tell me that, and he took a great risk in doing so. He could have just let the relationship whither in my selfishness, but he loved me enough to tell me the truth and let me see his disappointment. It not only gave me the opportunity to change but deepened our relationship.

Many Christians I’ve met over the years fall into the mistaken notion that in relationships “nice is better than honest” and are afraid to be genuine for fear of whatever backlash may result. There’s often good reason for that in a conformity-based culture where those in authority respond in abusive and hurtful ways toward anyone who dares to disagree with them. Perhaps that’s why so many people are always saying what they think the other person wants to hear instead of being honest.

Without genuineness and vulnerability, however, relationships stay superficial and become fraught with tension. You’ll find yourself avoiding people you haven’t been honest with, perhaps even blaming them for your fear of what truth might uncover. And it’s true that not everyone is worthy of your honesty or deserves access to your heart especially if they crush it with their own selfishness.

But the real power of relationships and the environment that nurtures them comes where people are vulnerable and genuine. Brokenness and fear grow in the darkness, healing and joy do so in the light. That’s why Paul wrote, “… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Growth only happens where what’s true can be expressed in gracious and tender affection.  I know that’s almost a lost art in the 21st Century, but it’s worth recovering. Affection will die when people care more about ‘getting along’ than they do engaging in honest conversations.

So, it behooves us all to learn to be genuine in our engagements with people, and for us to learn how to be a soft place for the vulnerability of others. Sure, it’s a risk, every time, but without it, you’ll never discover the depth, beauty, and power that arises from being heart-felt relationships. You can start in small ways with people you trust to hold your honesty well, even if they may not see eye-to-eye with you. That way you can discover who is safe for such conversations, and I suspect there are far more of those than your fears want you to believe.


The Jake Colsen Book Club

The next meeting of the Jake Colsen Book Club to explore the content of So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore will meet this Saturday, July 2, at 1:00 pm PDT.  The third chapter deals with Christian education and how it indoctrinates us into behavioral conformity as the process for discipleship when it is precisely the opposite of that. Growing in the life of Jesus is a transformational reality inside his affection, which explains why our attempts at self-effort conformity always fall short.

We stream these live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion. If you want to be in the conversation, please email me one week before each session, and I’ll send you the link you need to join us. There will always be reminders on my blog a few days before our scheduled time. You can subscribe to the blog at the top right of my blog pages.

The links change with every session and you have to get the current link by emailing me before the Zoom session begins.  You’re welcome to join us for all the sessions or only for the chapters that most interest you. You’ll need to sign up each time to have a spot in the Zoom room.



Some of the children and their new dormitories at Forkland School

Three months ago 300 children were suddenly abandoned at the Forkland School we have supported for many years. It is an impoverished community with lots of drug and alcohol abuse. We helped them when a flood ruined their cistern by digging them a new well. Gratefully, it hit a huge water source that enabled them to supply the community with free water as well as bottle it for resale to support the school.

A few months back, we helped them buy the land next door, which the state required them to do to keep caring for the number of students they had. Then a couple of months ago these children were abandoned on their doorstep. We helped feed them for a few months before they were required to build dormitories. Due to the generosity of one man, we built dormitories and a dining hall for their use.

However, expenses for the care, feeding, and education of those children total about $6500 per month.  We did not want to get caught in an ongoing expense here, so we appealed to them to look for a more effective solution. They presented us with a proposal to add $75,000 to the grain enterprise we set up with those we work with in the area as a way to generate that revenue every month going forward. We could use some help to offset that cost to help these orphaned children have a hope and future.

As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer feesPlease see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to @LifestreamMinistries (or use the QR Code at left). Finally, we also still take checks mailed to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.


Let Me Read to You

People are constantly asking me if any of my books are available in audio format. Many of them are and, except for The Shack, I’m the one doing the reading. So, if you want me to read one of my books to you, you can order from the links below:



The Jake Colsen Book Club

This book has helped thousands of people gain a different perspective about our human effort to replicate Jesus’ church and discovered that some of the rumblings in their heart weren’t as crazy as they might have first thought.  It has also gotten people thrown out of Bible college for reading it, been the source of much pain for pastors who didn’t appreciate its message, and has been the subject of countless emails. Here’s one I got the other day:
Hey, I just realized how wordy this email has become, but thanks for your gracious endurance if you’ve continued to read this far, lol . . . . I love your idea of a “book club” regarding your latest installment to Jake’s Story unfolding . . . I’d definitely be interested in joining in that discovery if it ever presents itself.  Yours and Dave’s online chapters is what brought a lot of language to what the Father was unfolding in my life back then years ago. I think I still have the chapters printed out in a 3-ring binder somewhere with all my scribbles in the margins, That time period brings such a smile to my heart and face just thinking back on it now . . . even though it was extremely tumultuous in our relationships here as well.
And a few days later, I got this text:

I’ve been reading So You Dont Want to Go to Church Anymore, I came across the “what do we do with the kids” part. And John asked if the kids knew how to use a fork. That part! I can’t even begin to tell you how much it did my heart good. I literally wept tears of relief. I find myself holding such ridiculously high standards for myself. Even though I know I’ll never attain them. So thank you! Thank you for sharing/collaborating with this book!

As many of you know, I’ve begun writing the sequel to this book, tentatively titled, So You Really Want to Follow Jesus. As I’ve been re-reading the first book, which I hadn’t done in 17 years, I got excited about that content and thought how fun it would be to take it by chapter and go through it with some people. When I suggested it on my podcast, many of you responded with the desire to join us.

So, I guess it’s time to start the Jake Colsen Book Club. We’re going to work through So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore chapter by chapter in a series of Zoom sessions where you can share your insights or ask questions.

Now, setting a time for this is almost impossible with readers in Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand who said they’d like to join in as well.  So, we’re going to bounce the time and dates around to make it easier for people in different time zones to join us. We are going to record the video, so if you can’t join us, you can watch it later and add your comments.  I’ve set the first two so people can plan accordingly and make adjustments as we move forward.

  • Chapter 1 – Sunday, June 5 at 10:30-11:30 am Pacific Daylight Time. (Please sort out what that means in your own time zone.)
  • Chapter 2 – Saturday, June 18 at 4:00-5:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time.

If you’d like to join me in the Zoom room for the discussion email me at and I will send you the link to join us.  For those who just want to watch, I’ll be streaming it from my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.  I’ll also post the link on my blog that morning for those who want to join in at the last minute.

Having done these a few hundred times, here are some guidelines that will help our conversation work best for everyone:

  1. If possible, use earphones or even a headset with microphone. It keeps background noise to a minimum. Also, mute yourself when not talking.
  2. Make sure you’re in a quiet setting with printers, vacuum cleaners, etc. turned off. Make sure dogs and kids are cared for away from where you are.
  3. Share the space. Feel free to jump in and share your thought or question, but then give others a chance too.  We don’t want 2 or 3 people to dominate the whole time.
  4. Please don’t try to “fix” people by giving advice. Advice is best served inside a relationship and when it is solicited.  It is often better to ask questions or make observations rather than to tell someone what they should do.
  5. We expect this time to have some awkward moments, so don’t panic in the silences. The best questions/comments often come out of an awkward pause.
  6. When you talk the first time, please tell us who you are and where you’re from, so people have context. And, it’s ok to make up a name and a location.
  7. We’re keeping this to one hour, so please don’t wait until the last minute or you may miss your chance.
  8. We consider this a public platform, so by participating you agree to have this stream online, and the recording released thereafter.

Let me know if you want to join me in the Zoom Room.

The Tide Has Turned

I’ve not talked about this a lot on my blog, but I have on recent episodes of The God Journey.  Six weeks ago, when I arrived home from my trip to the Carolinas, I stumbled into a tragic situation that completely took me by surprise. It was catastrophic and I told listeners of the podcast that I would be taking some time away from my regular responsibilities to give God the maximum space to sort this out. That needed to happen in me as well as others involved in the circumstance. I’m not relating the specifics of what I faced because the story affects other people, and it is their story to tell, not mine.

During this time, I took great encouragement from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

I have never been in such pain or despair. I wept countless tears in agony and sorry. It would not be an understatement to say I despaired of life itself. I took great comfort in remembering that Jesus “during his time on earth offers himself to God with loud cries and tears offered himself to God.” (Hebrews 5:7) I understood completely.

I was powerless in the face of lies the enemy had sowed among some people I care about, and had those circumstances stood, they would have threatened everything about my future. I could only pour out my heart to God for weeks, hoping that he had a resolution I couldn’t see. Early on, I called some close friends to have them stand and watch with me to see what Father might be saying or doing. Though I got great counsel, insight, and encouragement, the circumstances continued to worsen. At times God would breathe hope in my heart, “This is not what it appears to be,” but I could only seem to grasp that hope for brief moments. I was afraid to believe those thoughts were his when I could have so easily interpreted my hopes as God’s voice.

A couple of weeks ago, the tide began to turn, and in recent days all has changed dramatically for the good. Light has appeared in the darkness. Lies have given way to truth, and love has been renewed in a most gracious way. What was painful before is playful now. In the last six days, I have moved from circumstances that had been excruciatingly painful through the first five weeks to excruciatingly beautiful over the weekend. Now, the excruciating is gone entirely, and I am at rest in the beauty and his salvation.

I know this whole ordeal lasted only six weeks, but these days have been hard, painful, and seemed far longer. It came on so suddenly and the shock and pain were so great that every day seemed like a week.  I am so glad to say now that I have survived the most challenging stretch of my journey to date. Everything I have experienced in him over the last thirty years was critical to have in my heart during these days. I am so grateful for what he has taught me about entrusting myself to his love instead of trying to fix it with my own wisdom and power.

He has done exceedingly abundantly above what I could have imagined even a couple of weeks ago. I have appreciated the space many of you have given me by not making demands on my time so that I could give my full attention to what lay before me. During this time Jesus proved to be all the refuge I needed when I was living beyond my limits and overwhelmed with pain. As I look back now, I see more clearly how he was there, even when my agony obscured my vision. In the first days, God spoke to my heart and said this circumstance will decisively change the trajectory of my life, but it will lead to more beautiful spaces.  I had no idea what he meant by that, but when I believed it my heart was at rest even in the horror of that situation. However, when my heart strayed from it, the loss would overwhelm me again.

I’m not sure what all of that means yet but I know I’ve been changed by this, and I’m sure in more ways than I yet see. These events and his grace in them will reshape the trajectory of my heart and my mission until the end of my days, and how I love hurting people even when I’m bearing the brunt of it.  Today, my heart is full of joy and gratefulness with a song in my heart and a settledness in my spirit that God’s pleasure is unfolding.  There is still much to be done for his healing to be complete, but the outcome now seems inevitable, and I can fully give myself to the process.

I am as delighted today as I was in despair a couple of weeks ago. I hope someday I’ll be able to share some of the details of all of this if it becomes appropriate. In the end, I can say, I have experienced the most striking demonstration of his love I’ve ever seen for all of us involved. I’ve learned so much about the way he works and how love can have its way even against the wicked schemes of darkness.

I will always be immeasurably grateful for those who prayed for me and sent Scriptures and words of encouragement, even though you had no idea what I was dealing with. So many people stood with me, hoped with me, wept with me, and now share my joy at the fruit of his work. I will be turning back to those things Father has asked me to put into the world in the days ahead.  We are back doing podcasts already. Soon I’ll continue writing on the sequel to So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. I’ll also be rescheduling the trips I had to cancel and see where else Father might want me to go to encourage the hearts of others in the next season. Those conversations will be incredibly different now.

Thank you for your kindness and patience to me during this time.

The Best Conversation I’ve Ever Had…

I couldn’t fit it all in the title, but this is the best recorded conversation about my spiritual journey that I’ve ever had. I’ve been waiting to share it with you since we recorded it in late November. It just dropped this past Friday, and I’m so excited that others can now hear it.

Tim and Steve, both from South Africa (though one is now living in the Netherlands), asked if they could record a podcast with me about my spiritual journey for their podcast, The Urban Mystic. When I appear on podcasts other than my own, I let my hosts control where the conversation will go. What made this conversation so fascinating were the questions they kept asking that continued to drill down on how my relationship with God had developed over the trajectory of my life. They get into heart issues and how I recognized God opening new doors into his reality. They also wanted to parse out the lessons that would be most helpful to the listener in identifying how God is building a relationship with them.

When we finished recording, I sat back in my desk chair, a bit overwhelmed by what we had talked about and so excited that it was recorded. This is the message I most want to leave in the world. I have no idea why it took them so long to post it, and I was so grateful to see it appear last week.

Here’s how they described it on their podcast:

Here is another bonus episode for you of quality conversation with a wise and humble guest, Wayne Jacobsen. Wayne generously gave us an hour and a half of his time to explore his experience, his thinking and current work and life. Wayne leads us to “new spiritual trailheads” as he works with “hungry people” – hungry people who are interested and yearning for engagement with God. It is a conversation which covers more than 40 years of life history; so a rich and insightful tapestry.

It actually covers more than 60 years, and you can listen to it on Podbean or Apple Podcasts.


In Other News:

We have found someone who will begin to carry on The Breath of Fresh Air emails encouragements that we’ve been sending out. Traci had been selecting those quotes for the past eighteen months, and now a friend from Texas, who shall remain nameless, wanted to pick up the mantle for the next season. So it will take us a bit to get restarted, but for those of you who have signed up, you’ll be receiving the thrice-weekly email to encourage you on your own journey.

Also, it looks like there will be some travel ahead. This month Sara and I will be in Colorado Springs to visit our son and make some personal connections. There’s no gathering planned yet, but we could do one on Sunday afternoon/evening if there’s any interest. Next month, I’ll be in Greenville, SC, Charlotte, NC, and some of the surrounding area. I’m also looking at some trips that may take me into Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New England, Texas (Austin), and Virginia again. Keep an eye on the Travel Page or sign up for Travel Notifications if a trip comes together near you.

Beloved Through the Year in Germany

I just received a copy of my new devotional, Live Loved Free Full, in its German translation—Geliebt durchs Jahr, which I think translates to Beloved Throughout the Year. This is the sixth book Glory-World Medien has published of mine, and you can see them all at the bottom of the page for this one.

This is a translation of the description of the book on their website:

Wayne Jacobsen’s book “Beloved!” (He Loves Me) quickly became a bestseller after it was published in 2008. As a result, many have understood and experienced for the first time what God’s love is, how deep it goes and how much it can transform our lives.

With “Beloved throughout the year” there is now practically a sequel in which the author has incorporated his experiences of the last few years; this time not as a non-fiction book, but as a collection of practical suggestions for a life as a lover.

These suggestions want to pull our heart into God’s reality every day and help us to see our world through his eyes, to absorb his impulses and to master our days with all their challenges out of his wisdom.

When Jesus spoke of giving us abundant life, He wasn’t primarily concerned with pain-free circumstances and material blessings. He spoke of an inner life so rich and genuine that it can carry us through life’s difficulties.

This book will help us to do that. A loved, free and fulfilled life is the result of a growing connection with God on a heart level. Let his love be your daily reality, learn to absorb his impulses and experience his peace permeating your life in every situation!

This is a daily devotional with an encouraging thought on how to lean into Father’s love instead of navigating life on your own. If you haven’t read the book yet, here’s the reading for today—February 16.

February 16 – You Are His Delight

I was reading Song of Songs a few weeks ago. I wondered if the bridegroom’s delight over his lover is like Jesus’s delight in his Church. I know how I feel when I’ve been gone from Sara for a few days—the ache in my heart just to be near her again and hold her in my arms. Could this be how God feels about me?

I’ve concluded that what it means to come to be his delight is that God feels for me similarly to what I feel for Sara. His, however, is a billion times greater than mine. He is God and, after all, he has more love in his heart than I can possibly fathom.

And if I really knew he delighted in me like that, wouldn’t it be so much easier to rest in his certain arms, even in the places where I’m most broken and helpless?

I am at my best when I am at rest in his love, and less so when I’m anxious about how he feels about me. If you only knew he looked at you with delight, how much would that change how you go through this day?

You’ve captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love.
One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!
Song of Solomon 4:8–15 (MSG)

When you think of living to please the Lord, does it sound more like an arduous chore or an outrageous invitation to live in his pleasure? For most of my life it has been the first, but I think I had that wrong. God lives in the fullness of his pleasure and wants us to join him there as we also discover the fullness of ours. If you want to explore some of my recent insights on this that is once again altering the trajectory of my life in Christ, you can listen to last week’s podcast, Living to Pleasure.

If you’re interested in copies of Live Loved Full Free, you can order the German translation here or the original English version here. A French version is in process as well. I’m so grateful for all the hard work others put in to make these books available beyond the English-speaking world.

As for other translations of my books and articles in other languages, you can find them here. I’ve been fortunate to have some of my things translated into Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, South Korean, Spanish, Swahili, and Tamil. And of course The Shack has been translated in nearly 50 languages around the world, but that one is easier to find.


Recognizing the Seasons

First, a word about my last blog about the call of the Bride. I didn’t want to say much about it there; I just wanted it to hang out there to see how it resonated with others. I’ve appreciated hearing that so many others have sensed a similar call in their hearts.

That blog post was simply writing down what had happened in my heart in the middle of the night. I was awakened out of a sound sleep on Thursday night outside Nashville with this prayer coursing through my body—”The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.'” I repeated it over and over, and as I held that before Father, other Scriptures came to my mind, that seemed to fit that call in my heart. My heart has been captured by similar prayers in the five days since.

I honestly don’t know what it means. I don’t think it is just about the Second Coming of Jesus. If we want him to come eventually, we will want him to come now to make his glory known in the real circumstances of life—into our doubts and fears, sufferings and temptations, and hopes and dreams. It’s the constant draw of the heart to the groom, not because he doesn’t already live in our hearts. He does. It’s a call to let that love be closer and let his glory be more evident.

And, I think it is a bit of a dog whistle to the Bride around the world. Some have already sensed that drawing in their heart. Others are finding it put words to something they’ve been sensing but hadn’t fully surfaced yet. What would happen if the pulse of that call would rise from millions of hearts around the world and held it before God, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come'”? No, that won’t induce the Second Coming, but we may see his glory rise in the world around us.

But, here’s the real reason for this blog:

For the past eighteen months, many of you have received a thrice-weekly email called Breath of Fresh Air with a quote from one of my various publications or podcasts. I hear every week from people how those brief quotes have come at just the right moment to encourage people or give them insight into the situations they are facing. For others, they’ve been great reminders to tune their heart to Father’s love and life.

If you have enjoyed those, you have Traci Shyer of Pennsylvania to thank for them. She put all of those together as her way to share the life of Jesus in the world. She also did Instagram memes three days a week, such as the one above. A couple of weeks ago, she informed me that this season of her life is over. New work responsibilities and Father’s shifting call in her own heart are taking her on to other things.

So, thank you, Traci, for how much love and light you’ve shared in the world and how it has enriched so many others. I’ve told her how much I have loved the quotes she’s chosen and that artistic flare she has put to them. Even more, I appreciated her honesty with me when she knew it was time to lay it down. Everything in our hearts is for a season, and saying, “I’m done,” is every bit as important as her originally saying, “I will.” We really don’t have the freedom to say yes to something if we also don’t have the freedom to say “No, Thanks,” or know when our time doing it is done. Nothing in our lives is meant to go on past the vision God gives us for it.

We still have a backlog of her work, so this will continue a while longer. If, however, this is going to continue down the road, God will have someone else whom he would inspire to do something similar with their own creativity and passion. So, if you read this and think, “Hey!  I’d love to do that,” please let me know and we can talk about it.

If not, then we may recycle the quotes or simply let this lie and look for other ways Father might have to encourage. I honestly don’t feel this is something that has to continue indefinitely, so I’m not trying to recruit anyone. I’m just putting the invitation into the wind to see if anyone else feels a nudge. All it involves is picking out some short quotes from Lifestream or The God Journey and finding a decorative way to send them out via our mailing list or social media.

Seriously, no pressure; it’s just an offer.

If you want to learn more about how to recognize God’s work in the shifting seasons of our circumstances or in God opening new doors of opportunity, you might find In Season, Embracing Father’s Process for Fruitfulness, a helpful tool.

Relationships that Matter

This morning, I’m at the airport, ready to catch a flight to cold and rainy Nashville. I had to postpone this trip from January because of some COVID concerns, and it’s a good thing we did. That weekend they had a massive snowstorm that shut down the city. This time, it is hopefully just rain. I’ll be with some new people on this trip, a younger community of people exploring what life in Christ can be. I know little about them, but I’m excited to meet some new friends. In addition, I have some old friends there, too, who are finding time to hang out with me.

I leave with an overwhelmingly grateful heart. Yesterday, I asked Sara how we were doing on contributions for the new need in Kenya. They wanted to know if we could find $14,110 to help buy food for nursing moms, seniors, and others suffering in the ever-deepening drought in the north of Kenya. You responded with $17,300 in just a few days. I always find myself surprised and overjoyed at how quickly people respond and with more than I would think.

Over the past few years, your generosity has helped hundreds of thousands of people in that region find relief from hunger, and be exposed to the Gospel. Their thanksgiving for physical substance and spiritual nurture is so amazing to hear. Thank you for standing with them in this critical hour of need. If you still want to give to them, I’m sure more needs will come. These people in the tribal regions are in desperate straits. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’ve also heard from my friends in Ukraine over my recent post about the tensions there and the heart they carry in these threatening times. You can read one response in the comments on that blog.

I wish all the people I know could know all the other people I know. You would all be so enriched!  I just don’t know how to pull that off. For me, those relationships are not only nearby but stretch all across the world. We just spent the weekend with some close friends visiting from Ohio who were with me on an Israel trip five years ago. That led to a few others from that trip getting together over the weekend for fellowship, some friendly bocce ball, and a football game or two. My friend Luis also stopped by to share some of Sunday with us. I love the nourishment of heart and spirit that great relationships offer.

I’ve often said it, relationships make us rich. I look back over my life and am so grateful for all the people Jesus has connected me to in the world. Some are on magnificent journeys of learning to live in the Fahter’s affection, while many others have yet to begin that journey. Each one is a rich treasure when they let you in on the reality of who they are, warts and all. None of us are perfect and relationships can go through awkward moments of pain and miscommunication. But if people can respond with honesty, love, tenderness, and generosity, there’s no brokenness that can’t be healed, no failure that can’t be mended.

I just got off the phone with someone today who is experiencing real hurt in his family. I could feel his pain, not for himself, but for those he loves who only know how to lie, gossip, manipulate, and get angry when their manipulations don’t work. Many people protect themselves from relationships because of hurts just like this. They figure it’s better to live isolated than risk the pain of judgment and rejection.

I disagree, of course. Yes, I’ve had relationships go wrong, too. Who hasn’t? Yes, they hurt, especially when people aren’t open to honest, compassionate dialogue to get past the inevitable bumps in the road. However, if you let those people win, you’ll rob yourself of the friendships God has for you. Lean into those relationships where you know you are loved, where people celebrate who you are even in your struggles, and see the value of tenderness and forgiveness. Lean away from relationships filled with anger, gossip, threats, and ultimatums. Don’t argue with them or even retaliate with anger. If they judge you without listening to your side of the story, they don’t truly care about you anyway. You don’t have to let destructive people have free access to your heart.

Paul told us to warn a divisive person two times, and after that, have nothing more to do with them. You can’t change people so damaged by trauma, jealousy, or their need to control others, until they are ready to take an honest look at themselves. But that doesn’t mean you have to hate them. You can love them from afar, pray for God’s grace to touch them whenever they cross your mind, and be ready should they ever open their hearts to genuine reconciliation.

It is dysfunctional to keep seeking the love of people who are manipulative and dishonest. Leave them to God to see what he might do to invite them to healing. Good relationships don’t require perfection, just a measure of grace that seeks peace instead of conflict. Give your heart to those who treat it well and learn to treat others the way you would want them to treat you. Healthy relationships aren’t rocket science. You know those relationships that nurture your soul, encouraging you to a wiser and lighter heart. And you know those that weigh you down with demands and distortions that shred your soul.

Lean into the former and out of the latter and you’ll find that relationships will make you rich, too.

A Difficult Day Ahead

Today I say my final goodbye to Dave Coleman, a close friend for over thirty years. I wrote about him and our work together in a previous blog when he passed away. His family has asked me to facilitate the celebration of his life at a memorial service today, and I have no idea how I’m going to get through it.

Death is only painful on this side of the door. On the other side, Dave has already discovered what it means to be face-to-face with Jesus, and he is enjoying the reality of what we can only glimpse from the shadowlands here that we live in. On this side, those who knew him will miss him deeply, his smile, wisdom, and tenderness. I already do. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this service.

In preparing my remarks, I remembered the last email I got from Dave. It showed up late this fall quite unexpectedly one morning and it was simply a prayer—a profound one at that! He had been walking with me through a harrowing situation that involved some people I love deeply.

Here’s what he wrote:

 May the Father, who is rich in mercy, speak kindly to your heart and comfort you with the thought that the only way out of this is to lay it at the foot of the cross…. with the prayer, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Do not allow your accusers to stifle in any way your message of God’s love. Just allow this experience to increase your urgency and your compassion and above all to deepen your dependency on His grace.

Dave had known many similar experiences in his own life. The path he commends here is one he has walked many times. Forgive from the depth of your heart, but also don’t let your accusers prevail. Get to the cross and the power Jesus demonstrated there. Forgive like he forgave and then let the pain and loss only invite you deeper into grace and to the great need for more of it in the world.

Amen, Dave. Amen 

Best Use of The Jesus Story

Two things happened yesterday, almost back to back.

First, I read the following email from Chelsea, a friend in Idaho:

If you remember my 7-year-old son was very much struggling with going to church, and it’s become clear these past few weeks that I will be staying home with him and having intentional one-on-one time on Sunday mornings. I am using The Jesus Story videos, but a bit differently. I’m not having him watch them, but am watching them myself and then using it as a guide to teach each lesson to my son.

Today was the first one, and we went on a “treasure hunt” in the house to find treasure and drew treasure maps and connected it to the bible being a treasure map to Jesus. It went so well, and I used your examples and visuals but just made it in real life. I got a book set out and explained the books of the Bible as you did with the most important books being the four about Jesus. My son just really understood and was engaged more than ever, and I’m looking forward to doing this each week for the next little bit.  Thought you might enjoy hearing how your series is being used with a younger child.

That’s the best use of The Jesus Story I’ve ever heard. I’d much rather have a child go on a treasure hunt with mom than watching a video of me and my grandkids. I love that she’s using those videos and tools to find a way to incarnate the life of that series in her own home.  Well done, Chelsea!  I hope your example will inspire others.

For those who don’t remember, I recorded The Jesus Story during the early days of the pandemic to give my grandkids a survey of the Bible and hopefully a love for it when they didn’t have much else going on. Through the wonders of Zoom, I gave them a kid-sized package of The Jesus Lens, which I recorded to help adults explore how the Scriptures can be the most important resource they have for sorting out the life of the Spirit in their own lives.

The second thing that happened yesterday is I was on a Zoom call with a mother in her young 40s when she shared how Scripture had been so weaponized against her that she rarely reads it.  As sad as that makes me, I get it. Many think it’s a dull, antiquated book that’s no longer relevant today. Others cringe at the thought of reading it since they have felt obligated to do so and found very little life in it. Religious leaders have weaponized it to bash people with guilt and obligation or misinterpreted it as a rule book for conforming people to their religious systems even if they have to disfigure the Gospel to do it.

It’s such a tragedy too!  The Scripture is still the most fantastic resource in my spiritual journey.  I want it to become one in yours too. Everything I believe about God unfolds in its pages. But you’ve got to read it as the story it is—of God unfolding himself in human history, not as if he dictated each word.  That’s not what inspired means. Not everything it says about him is true, especially in the earlier stories. It tells the story of a people coming to recognize who God is, and sometimes their view of him was wrong or incomplete. However, when Jesus appeared, he showed us exactly what his Father is like and how to make sense of those Old Testament stories.

Also, every day when I read it, no matter where I’m reading, I know I’ll find some clue that helps me realize something Jesus has been speaking to me, checks the motives in my heart that might steer me after my own desires instead of his, or it will confirm a path he already has me on. I’m always excited to see what the Scriptures might unveil to my heart on a given day. No, it cannot replace his Spirit as the one who guides me into all truth but it certainly helps me recognize when I’m being led by his Spirit and when I’m being seduced by my own brokenness.

That’s why a major theme in my life and on this website is to help people reclaim the wonder and power of Scripture. If you haven’t checked out The Jesus Story or The Jesus Lens, you might want to spend some time with them. It may take a bit of effort to move Scripture out of the guilt and obligation side of your life so that it can become the treasure map God intended to help reveal his wisdom and character to aid you on your journey.

Dave Coleman Is on the Incredible Journey

For those of you reading Live Loved Free Full, on November 30, you read an exchange I had with Dave Coleman that graciously changed the trajectory of my life. Dave passed from this life and began the incredible journey for which we are all destined on that same morning. I love the way Father does stuff like that. It just seemed another wink from him and his joy in the relationship we shared together. I will miss him more than I can say here even as he delights in face-to-face communion with Father, Son, and Spirit.

Dave Coleman was the wisest man I’ve ever known, not in spouting of platitudes or presenting spell-binding lectures. With a mere sentence or a provocative question, Dave could cut through a situation and reduce it to the simple choices I faced inside of it. He gave of it freely to anyone who would seek him out and he enriched the lives of so many who would come by his home and revel in his wisdom. Dave would always point down the road that leads to life without ever pressuring anyone to believe him or take it. He was gracious and loving even when people didn’t see things the way he did. He didn’t just talk about love; he lived it in his kindness, his wisdom, and in his graciousness. He pastored a Lutheran church for awhile, volunteered as a hospice chaplain and taught the life of Jesus at rehab centers.

He was my closest friend over the last thirty years, walking me through conflicts and betrayals I endured as well as affirming and celebrating what God was revealing to me. I wouldn’t be doing anything I’m doing in the world today without this man’s influence and kindness to me.

Of all the men and women I have met, this is one of God’s most authentic followers. Was I walked away from our first meeting, these words penetrated my thoughts, “This is one in whom there is no guile.”  That’s what Jesus said about Nathanael in John 1. Having known him for thirty-plus years, I can tell you how true that was. He was authentic to the core and never sought to exploit someone for his own gain. He rarely occupied the limelight and was often despised by those who could not manipulate him to their ends or control the life and grace that flowed from his tongue and heart. He and his wife, Donna, have known betrayal as well as the tragic loss of two of their children—one in a tragic accident and one to leukemia. Rather than grow bitter from these things, they grew more tender and compassionate for others in need.

He was a second dad to me in this season of my life. Whenever Sara and I had couldn’t resolve complications in our marriage, how to raise our children, negotiate conflicts with friends or family, he and Donna were there to comfort us and help us see down better roads. And he was always a cheerleader for the work of unfolding grace in my heart, especially when others would lie about me or seek to deter me from Jesus’s leading.

Once, while I was still pastoring, I offered him an opportunity to be an elder in our congregation and the possibility of a full-time position. I thought I was offering him the moon. I was shocked when he declined it immediately. Asking him to explain. “I really can’t,” he said. “But someday, you’ll know.” Fifteen years later, when offered an elder position in a local fellowship that I found myself declining, I had to smile when I remembered his words.  Yes, I get it now.

He was the first to tell me that most human love is merely the mutual accommodation of self-need. People will “love” you only as long as you give them what they want. When you can’t or won’t, they will cut you off. Jesus taught us love is not about getting what we want from others but having affection enough for them to lay down of our lives for their benefit, without thought of what it will cost us.

Dave was my coauthor of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, and the one who came up with that provocative title. Soon, I’m going to read that book for the first time soon to relive the experience of writing it with him.  That November 30 entry in Live Loved Free Full, is about the time Dave dropped this bomb in my heart: “I’ve learned that whenever my personal well-being is hinged on the response of another person, I will manipulate them.”

I knew that was radioactive when I first heard it. Dave was talking about a sermon I had preached, but I knew if I let that truth into my heart, it would change everything about how I treat Sara, my children, family, friends, and anyone I would meet. That reality is still changing me, and the freedom of learning to anchor my well-being in Christ alone set me increasingly free to love others.

If you’ve been touched by anything God has done through my life, you can be grateful to God that he put this man in m life. Certainly, God has reached out to me through others, but no one has had a more profound impact on the trajectory of my journey.

It delights me to know he is at rest after suffering a long health decline. I look forward to the day when we will sit again in the coming kingdom and celebrate all the grace that we both experienced at the hand of our God and Father. My heart goes out to his family, who will miss him far more than I will. May God’s comfort eventually turn all their grief into the joy of having known this man and been enriched by his time on this planet.

If you want to partake of some of Dave’s wisdom in his seven appearances on The God Journey podcast.  You can find those episodes in our Guest Archive. Especially appropriate might by his reflections on death that we recorded nine years ago. I talked to him a few days before his death, I can assure you that he lived to the end everything he believed and stared down death at rest in the Father’s care.


A Compass for Your Heart

I just received word that my new devotional, Live Loved Free Full, has just been released in German.  I’m so happy to let my readers there know it is now available in their language.

It’s called “Loved Throughout the Year, with the subtitle “365 impulses to live loved, free, and fulfilled”.  The Publisher is Glory World Medien, which has published many of my titles for Germany.  You can view their Facebook page here or order the book on Amazon in German.

It also allows me to remind others that this would make an excellent Christmas gift for family and friends if you’re still looking for some ideas. And, we don’t have any supply chain issues to delay shipment. You can order as many as you like.

Almost every day, I get an email from someone saying the day’s entry was written especially for them, or it opened doors to some insight they desperately needed. That’s what I hoped for when we put this book out. It is so easy for us to be seduced by the world’s demands or retreat into the rigors of religious performance as we go about our day. It’s easy to forget that Jesus invited us into a different journey. Let the Father’s love wash over your heart today and gain his perspective on the circumstances that confront you. Each day’s entry is designed to help draw your heart into a more relational space to think through your day alongside the Father, Son, and Spirit so that we can lean into their perspectives of our life and the world around us.

It’s like resetting the compass of your heart so you can navigate your life inside his reality instead of the illusions the world presses on us. “Setting our minds on things above,” is what Paul invited us to do. That’s where life, freedom, and love abide.

And not surprisingly, I received an email from someone who felt today’s reading, November 24, was particularly powerful. I haven’t read it yet myself, but I’m going to copy it below for you.





Transformational Love

If God’s love could only comfort us in our weakness and could not transform us to live in his glory, it would not be enough. Thankfully, learning to live in his love puts us in the place to see our world through his eyes. Love and truth coupled together is what fuels his transformation in us and helps us navigate this fallen world in his joy and peace.

I grew up believing that the Bible showed us the way to live. We needed to study it, interpret it, and apply it to our lives. Doing so would allow us to live in God’s glory. Only later did I find that process doesn’t work. While it pressures us to act better, it ultimately collapses because our freedom doesn’t come from within. We will either end up blaming God for not doing his part or shaming ourselves for not trying hard enough.

The Bible was meant to introduce us to Jesus and to show us God’s reality that will make sense of the universe and our lives in it. Jesus is the one who prepared the way for us to be at home in his Father’s love and sent his Spirit to guide us into all God’s truth. Our participation in the relationship that Father, Son, and Spirit share together will slowly transform us by showing us what is real and not real in the circumstances we face and the thoughts we have. Transformational love is how God invites us into his freedom and equips us to be agents of his glory in a broken world.

That does not diminish my appreciation for the Bible. It  does show us God’s reality and wisdom but unless he is working that out inside us there is no way to follow all the truth it reveals. Jesus said that we don’t live by bread alone but by “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Paul in Galatians 3 points out that God doesn’t work in us by human effort but by “believing what we hear.” Instead of conforming our lives to a set of expectations, we actually get to live inside his love and learn to recognize how he reveals himself in us. As we believe what he shows us we’ll discover what it is to live in his life.

Over the last year, I’ve been working on a better way to help people understand how this process happens and how to cooperate with God to bring lasting change in their lives.  I had the chance to share some of this with a group near Baltimore last weekend and ended up using a towel and some paper plates scattered about the floor.  I had never tried it this way before and just as I was getting started a little dog came in and started scrunching up my towel.  That’s when I realized there was a better way to use that towel and we all had a good laugh at the dog’s contribution.

I’m not sure the best way to share this with a wider audience just yet. I don’t know if there’s a book here, a video series, or if we can talk about it on the podcast. I’m excited for the opportunities to explore this process with people to see if it helps them understand how God transforms us without turning it in to some kind of formula. I hope it helps them relax enough into the process that they can participate more freely with him.  If we do, we’ll find our trust growing as will our capacity and awareness to love others. That’s where we will find all the joy, peace, abundance, and fulfillment that Jesus promised us. The few times I have shared it I was grateful that it spawned just the kind of encouragement and conversation that I hoped for.

Later this month, I’m going to share it with a group in Bradenton, FL, New Port Richey, and in Miami, FL and perhaps it will come up in other places I visit as well.   You can hear me talk about this a bit in the video below, which I prepared as a promo for that conversation with Hope4Life in Miami.

If you can’t play the video file, click here.

If you want to join us, please see their announcement below.  At the bottom right is a Zoom ID number if you want to join me live that day.

I haven’t been this excited about a resource to help people since Embracing His Glory, and this does involve a further extension of that material.


Other Notes of Interest

For those in their 20s and 30s there’s still space available for you to join Kyle and me December 3-5 in Westcliffe, CO for a gathering to celebrate and pray for what God is doing in this age group. We are looking forward to encouraging each other and listening to God together to see how he’s engaging a new generation. You  can get all the details here or register here.

Also, for those interested, I had a great conversation with the guys at Next Level Method Podcast that was recorded this past September. It dropped today. You can hear it on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast or watch it on YouTube.



A Grateful Heart

I just got back from Virginia and Maryland and leave next week for a swing through Florida. I look back with profound gratefulness at every moment on this trip and the conversations I had with so many people, some enduring great hardship and struggle, others responding to Jesus’ invitation to come closer and to follow him in uncharted waters. I loved all of it and had many spontaneous encounters that weren’t on the schedule when I left.  My heart is full, and I’m humbled by the journey Jesus allows me to walk. Here’s one person’s response to that trip:

What a wonderful time of fellowship and newly established friendships I experienced yesterday!  I can’t stop thinking about the ‘uniqueness and specialness’ of our time together as well as the ‘uniqueness and specialness’ of each one who came.  I missed you all as soon as I departed.

Me too! What a joy it was to meet so many people in various places on this journey, all looking for the real meaning of love as God sees it and finding a transformative journey in knowing and following him.  That quote above was the opening paragraph of an email I got yesterday. I often get emails like that after I’ve been somewhere, and every one of them is appreciated. This is the first time, however, that I got to peek at a thank you note to one of my host couples. I’m not going to say which city she joined me in, because what she writes could have applied to all the places I visited and the people who invited me.  Here’s what she wrote to the people who facilitated my time at one location on this trip:

Thank you for opening up your home and creating such a warm and welcoming environment.  Thank you also for the time and money spent on food preparations. Everything—and every means every—was perfect!  There is nothing like being on the receiving end of your generosity and kindness.  I don’t know if you realize just how much of a difference that you make in the lives of people (just by being wonderful, faithful, kind, loving you) but it is significant.  On numerous occasions, people mentioned just how much they appreciated the interest that you take in them. You are gems to many and God is loving many people through you.

These things don’t happen if there aren’t people on the other end who have it on their hearts to invite me and who will prepare a place for people to connect. I am always amazed when anyone takes the risk of inviting me and seeing what Father might do in my coming. It’s so brave. I don’t just hold meetings; I also open my hearts to the spontaneous encounters God might give me along the way. I never go to speak and then hide in my room the rest of the day. I watch for what else God might be doing and who might want my help processing their journey. So, that means they need to be a bit flexible, too, whenever God creates new opportunities alongside the ones they had planned. I’m always grateful for the people who host me and provide for my needs while they open the door to others. It’s a beautiful symphony when it all comes together.

She finished her email with this:

Wayne, thank you for taking and making the time to visit with us. It was so good to connect with you in person. What a delight!  I so appreciated the transparency and vulnerability so many shared regarding the difficult circumstances you and others are facing. It takes courage to ‘pull the drapes back’—and yet, right from the start—drapes were pulled back. I loved it. It was precious, it was unique, and it was special.  The conversations and discussions were rich and deep.  The entire day was perfect!  I appreciate you—your authenticity, genuineness, and down-to-earthness – as well as your willingness to “explore” the kingdom with others.

It amazes me how quickly sharing can go deep in rooms like that. I heard very tender stories of people going through tough challenges but looking to Father’s hand to lead them through it in his love. That isn’t easy, nor is it to share that with a roomful of strangers. These conversations that matter also enlighten and inspire my journey as well. I’m dumbfounded as well as thankful that God allows me to have these kinds of time with people. I did a seminar on A Language of Healing in Suffolk, The Shack with the recovery community near Baltimore, Finding Church in Baltimore and Harrisonburg, and He Loves Me and Live Loved Free Full all over the place. I found myself in a few places sharing the new framework I think Father has given me to help people understand the nature of the journey that God invites us into. This time, it involved a stack of paper plates, a towel, and a discerning dog as I played it out on the floor. I love seeing those “Aha” moments in people’s eyes when something clicks in their hearts that makes more sense of what Father is already doing in them.

Finally, I had so many on this trip telling me to take their gratitude back to Sara for the price she pays when I go. My presence anywhere is as much a gift from her as it is from me, and we are both touched when people recognize it.

I was supposed to hop on a jet this afternoon for a conversation about race at a community college in Texas. Due to a COVID assault on one of the participants, however, it had to be postponed. I’ll miss being there this week because that is one of the healthiest conversations about race I see any major institution risking today. It has avoided both the cliffs offered by the left and the right that do more to obscure the problem than seek the solutions that will help us all. Fortunately, we’ll get back to that at a later date.

For now, I get to reflect on all Jesus did on this last trip and hold in my heart those I met going through a painful stretch of the journey, I also find my heart growing in expectancy for what will unfold at home this week and in my trip to Florida next week.

And don’t you love it when someone takes the time to write a note like this one?

Alaska, Virginia, and Maryland

I used to get frustrated when things didn’t work out the way I had planned. Not anymore. I’ve seen God open up so many other opportunities when original plans go awry that now I find myself a bit excited when something doesn’t work out the way I thought it would. I find myself excited to see what else he might have in mind that wasn’t yet in my field of vision. Whether its at home or out on a trip somewhere else, I know his purpose continues to unfold and it fascinates me how else he will make use of that time.

Especially in this age of COVID, travel planning is a bit of a challenge.  I was supposed to leave Thursday to spend this coming weekend in Alaska with people who are freshly considering the difference between the church humans build and the one in which Jesus is breathing his life. I was really excited to be with them, but I’ve been waved off by my hosts. The home I was to stay in is battling COVID and the pandemic has gone wild in Alaska.  Hospitals having to refuse patients for lack of space and there was even a call out this morning for health workers to come to Alaska and help with the overwhelming onslaught of cases.

So, that has shifted my plans accordingly. I will be going to Alaska eventually, just not now.  It looks like I’ll have some extra time at home before heading to Norfolk, VA on October 21 for that weekend, then spend some time Richmond, VA in the early part of the week and finish that trip in Sykesville, MD the following weekend.  I still have a few days in the middle of the week available if anything is on someone’s heart between Richmond and Sykesville.  Just let me know.

Sara and I are on a brief getaway, so my Travel Page has not been updated to reflect this opportunities, but they will be by the end of the week. After that, I’ll be going to Amarillo, TX in early November and then to Florida just before Thanksgiving.  Then, on December 3-5 Kyle Rice and I will be holding The God Journey Gathering for 20 and 30-somethings near Colorado Springs.


Wherever He Asks…

It isn’t easy to know how much travel to do these days negotiating around COVID. Being vaccinated, I’m not worried about myself, but I don’t want to be the cause of others spreading it around. But I do have some travel taking shape this fall as long as it seems prudent to do so.  Lectures and seminars are not the most fruitful thing I do when I travel. I find it far more effective to simply hang out with people who are processing their own journeys and want to have some conversation about God’s love and what he is doing in the world, even in these troubled times.

Even though I’ll do more of a seminar to help a wider group of people hear some things that seem to be on God’s heart these days, it’s the conversations around those seminars that I find most engaging. And, I also get whatever else is on my heart into those exchanges. If you want to hear how that can sort out, you can hear a bit about my most recent trip in the first part of this podcast.

So, when I go somewhere, we try to leave maximum space for Father’s spontaneous connections. If you’d like to know when I will be in your area, please sign up for Travel Notifications (and include your city and state), so I can let you know by email or keep an eye on my Travel Page, which is harder to remember.

Over this fall, I a planning trips to—

If you’re near these areas and want to plan something of your own for others in your area, please let me know. I can often stay on a bit longer since I’m already in the area if Father opens other doors.

If you’re not in any of these locations, you may ask, “Just how do you get Wayne Jacobsen to come for a visit?” It really isn’t all that complicated. It all begins with an invitation. The invite allows us to hold the opportunity together in prayer and see if this is in his heart. If he wants it to be, he’ll make the way clear on your side and mine. I don’t schedule far in advance, especially for U.S. travel, since opportunities arise where a situation requires me to respond quickly to be of most help.  So, a lot of my trips come together at the last moment.

I don’t travel for my own amusement and don’t say yes to every invitation. I look for God’s nudge that comes in giving me a time to go and purpose in the going. I also look for Sara’s confirmation for me to be gone. We ponder and pray until it seems good to us and good to the Holy Spirit to go. I travel at my own expense, so no one needs to worry about how much it would cost. If people inviting me can and want to help with my expenses, that is certainly a blessing, but it is not expected. God has so many ways to pay for whatever it is he wants to do.

If I come, I come to serve what Father might already be doing in an area, not for anything I would prefer.  So if you have some people who would like to explore specific themes from my books or podcasts, it helps me know that. My favorite weekends are just hanging out somewhere that allows people they know to come and have conversations that matter with people who care. However, if people want to host gatherings for others to join in and for people in a region to connect with each other, I’m happy to do that as well.  That usually works best by setting aside a few hours in the morning and afternoon or the afternoon and evening with a meal break. We can keep that very simple with people bringing in picnic lunches or grabbing fast food nearby. Often we just go out for a meal in smaller groups to get to know each other.  The venue is not important. I’ve gathered with people in homes, parks, corporate offices, warehouses, restaurants, coffee houses, community rooms, even congregational buildings.

If you have such a thing on your heart, especially where there are people freshly sorting out how to live loved, or how the church Jesus is building takes expression in the world, let me know.  Often the best invitations come from people who have never done anything like this before or don’t even think I’ll take it seriously, but sense somehow that God might want it. Truly, it never hurts to ask. Who knows what God might do?

And, of course, it never hurts to mention chocolate cake or chocolate ice cream somewhere in the invitation.

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.