Behind the Scenes

When the Invisible Became Visible

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

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

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

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

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


The Scripture as a Treasure Map

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

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

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

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

The Scripture Story

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abandon Your Agenda and Embrace His

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

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

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

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

Some Possibilities in Europe

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

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

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

The Audio Book is Now Available

We’ve had some interesting developments with A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation. For one, the audio book was released yesterday, so those of you who would prefer to have someone read it for you, here it is!  Bob Prater, Arnita Taylor, and I read our own words in the book, which really draws people into the conversation in a unique way. You can download it from Audible or Amazon.

I have loved how my work on this book has shifted so many things in my heart.  I see the fruit of it every week, including my last week in Richmond, VA. So many times this book allowed me to have conversations with parents dealing with an LGBTQ son or daughter, encouraging an African American pastor who had all but given up hope that any white people would ever care about him, and with many others simply how to live more generously in the world as God’s followers. We are called to love, not get caught up in treating people as political enemies because they hold to different views there.

Monday in Washington, DC, I met with an executive of Christian colleges and universities, whose enthusiasm for this book surprised me. She said that during the 2016 elections, animosity and fear tore apart many campuses across various interest groups. She said there was significant concern that it might repeat again this election cycle and she was excited about this book and perhaps Bob’s, Arnita’s, and my availability to help with training and consultation for administrators and student leadership groups.  So, who knows where this roller coaster might take us.

I’m home now only for a week before heading out to make a run through Oklahoma at the end of the month. Come join me if you’re close by.  I’m actually going to hold more of a workshop on Saturday, Feb 29 in Tulsa about How Will God’s Glory Fill the Earth? It combines some of the stuff from He Loves Me, with the transformations in my heart that have come from A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation.  We’ll also be doing some of that in Edmond on Feb 25-26.  Check out the Travel Schedule if you’re close enough to join us.

Let’s Change the Conversation…

When you combine courage with compassion, the world can change.

The last two weeks have been crazy launching this A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, first in Dallas and then in Los Angeles. We found each audience incredibly engaged with wanting to change their own conversations from fear and suspicion to mutual respect and being able to see the world through the eyes of those they have long regarded as “the opposition.” I know what a joy that has been just working on this book and over the last year finding myself seeking out conversations with people who are different than me, not to explain my point of view, but to truly understand theirs.

This is where change begins, not in Washington, but in the next conversation you have and the next relationship you seek out. This book invites you to have different conversations with friends and family, colleagues and co-workers, neighbors, and even strangers. As you move outside your comfort zone with a more generous heart, especially toward those who are different than you, the world can change. I heard a marvelous story yesterday of a friend in traffic school engaging a young man who was being picked on by others in the class. My friend is Hispanic, and the young man was Caucasian, so immediately, the walls went up. But my friend pressed through them, offering to buy him lunch, and by the end of the day, they had struck up a friendship that put the bullies at bay. The young man was so grateful.

We’ve heard from people in the U.K., France, and Spain, hoping this book will also help the polarized climate in which they live. Imagine if enough of us lived more generously in the world, moving past our imagined barriers to care about people who are different from us? That doesn’t mean we become less passionate about the things we care about for our nation, but we’ll also be able to appreciate the concerns of others as well. We are not as divided as our political parties or media want us to believe. There is enough common ground to share our hopes and aspirations and find solutions that are fair to our differences.

We are already hearing from a few colleges and universities that are considering using the book in their cultural studies programs, and from a political party county chairperson who is hoping this book can help build some bipartisan bridges in her own community

Would you help us change the conversation as well?

If so, get the book and read it if you haven’t already.

If you have and think it worthy, would you help us spread the word? There’s nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth recommendation from passionate readers.  Here are some ideas that will help more than you know:

  • Write a review for Amazon (and copy it to Goodreads). It only needs to be a sentence or two. Tell people what you think of this book. These reviews make a huge difference in Amazon’s algorithms recommending this book to others.
  • If you host a podcast or blog, please consider having one or all of us as a guest to discuss the book.
  • If you have a favorite radio talk show or podcast, send an email to the host and recommend they do an interview with one or all of the authors. We are all making ourselves available to discuss this book wherever and however the doors open.  Listener-suggested topics carry a lot of weight.
  • On your social media feeds, post pictures of yourself with the book, reading it, or of it laying on your end table or bedside stand. Use the picture from this blog post if you want. There are many more on my Facebook Author page. We want to fill the Internet with photos of the book on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,
  • Post your favorite quote(s) from the book along with a picture of the cover,  or post how it is changing the way you relate to people in your life. Personal stories are the best!
  • Feel free to tag us authors, Bob Prater, Arnita Willis Taylor, and Wayne Jacobsen
  • Use the hashtag:  #ALanguageOfHealing wherever you can and link to the website or Amazon sales page wherever it is appropriate.
  • Consider the book as a Christmas gift to friends or coworkers.
  • If you’re already in a book group, suggest this one. If you’re not, organize one for your neighborhood or family to discuss how we can change the conversation to one of greater respect and understanding.

There’s no big media company behind this book and we don’t anticipate that the national media will love it since we give them a pretty good knock for increasing the polarization to generate sales and attract viewers. I do think this book is worthy of a hearing in our culture and I am excited to see what might happen if enough people are captured by its message to live a bit differently in their day-to-day interactions.

Thank you for whatever help you can lend us. Of course, what’s most important for all of us is not just getting the book out there, but taking seriously some of the encouragements in the book to live differently and engage people every day with greater generosity and kindness. That’s how the world will change, even if it’s only a small corner of it where you live.

Launch Day!

Today is drop day!  A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation dropped this morning at retail outlets throughout the U.S. I’ve been living inside this book for nearly two years and it is such a relief to finally have it available in the world. We have had a group of advance readers already discussing it and I love what people are seeing in it and how it is beginning to change the way they interact with others. Some of the stories we are hearing are overwhelmingly beautiful. That’s what we hoped for. We didn’t write this book to change the politics in Washington, DC or the angry voices that fill the media echo chambers. My coauthors and I wrote it as every-day Americans, inviting others into better conversations with people in their lives. If the temper of this country changes it will be one life at a time and one conversation at a time.

We held a number of events in Dallas this week to mark the launch and will continue to do this Saturday and Sunday in southern California. If you’re free to celebrate with us, hear my coauthors share a bit of their story, and get your book signed, join us in San Dimas on Saturday for the launch, and on Sunday afternoon with CultureBrave in Los Angeles. You can get all the details here. Just look under Events.

We’re looking for people who are willing to intentionally engage those who look and think differently than they do with mutual respect and compassion. Our subtitle is: Creating safe environments for conversations about race, politics, sexuality, and religion. Learning to speak this language means we will engage people, listen to their stories so that we can better understand their concerns, and then consider how we might share a culture that seeks to be fair to all points of view instead of imposing our own.

Wayne sharing with our Language of Healing class.

Bob, Arnita, and I taught our first class together in Dallas this weekend and to a group of people eager to join this conversation. Some of the things we shared there, that might be helpful here are:

  • About 75% of Americans are ready to have the conversation that embraces mutual respect, which means about 25% are not. Don’t try to force this conversation on those who are not ready for it. Most will be, however, tired of the polarization that is making us angry and suspicious of our neighbors.
  • Don’t think first about changing institutions, but of the next interaction you have with someone who thinks differently than you do, or the next room you walk into and who you choose to spend some time with.
  • Learning to speak a Language of Healing invites an inner transformation first, where we “see” others and engage them with compassion and respect even if they don’t share our political views or our faith.
  • We all have biases that influences our interactions with others. By recognizing and managing them we will find ourselves in more fruitful relationships.

This week we will also be recording the audio version for those who would like to hear all three of us read our parts of this book.  It should be available by the first of the year.

If you’d like to help us get the word out, here are some ideas—

  • Go to your favorite bookstore and ask if they have the book in stock. (If not, it will alert them to order it.)
  • Get a copy at Amazon, Barnes, and Noble, or Books-A-Million and start reading it.
  • If you like what you’re reading, share it freely on social media, post a review on Goodreads and Amazon. All of those things help the book spread in the world.
  • Post a picture of the book whenever you quote from it or share your thoughts about it. There are lots online, or on my Facebook Author feed, or you can personalize it by taking one with you reading the book, or sitting on your coffee table or desk.
  • When you see other postings about this book on your social feeds “like” them so the conversation grows.
  • Suggest A Language of Healing for any book group you attend, or host a study in your own home.

We have been blessed with a lot of people who are passionate about this book. Give it a read and see if it resonates with you as well.

A Crazy, Crazy Few Weeks

Why has this page been so quiet?  Because the last few weeks have been a bit crazy, and the next couple will be the same.

The above photo was my view last weekend, getting a walk in the woods as the day began. I was in Ohio on a two-day turn-around from Sara and my week away. The temperature was 34 degrees, so it was a brisk four-mile walk.  Ohio!??! It wasn’t on my travel schedule, but for personal reasons, I felt nudged to spend some time with dear friends in northeast Ohio, near Millersburg, that God has connected me to over the years. Some others in the area came to join us, and I heard some amazing stories of how at desperate moments my life intersected with theirs. I was touched at what God does. Do people really Google, “I don’t want to go to church anymore,” and get to my website?  (Not anymore, as I checked today!)

It was a crazy, rushed trip as I had to get back and help coach some storytellers that are part of a one-year commemoration of the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill that took twelve undeserving lives. Hearing police officers, firefighters, parents, and survivors talk about that experience a year ago has been incredibly moving. The final event is tomorrow night. One year ago today those young people were murdered then within twenty-four hours 250,000 people from my community were evacuated in the dead of night in the face of two encroaching wildfires. Everyone in our community has vivid memories of those days.

After that, we are gearing up for the release of my new book, A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, along with coauthors Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor. We’ll all be in Dallas next week, doing a six-hour class together on Saturday (November 16) before our official release the next day. If you’re in the area or would like to fly in you can get details on the website above either for the Saturday seminar or the Sunday afternoon/evening book launches.

Then the following weekend Bob and Arnita are coming to Southern California where we will be recording the audio version of the book as well as having our own book launch here. You can join us at Life Pacific University on Saturday, November 22.  Details are also on the Language of Healing Website and you can RSVP there.  Then, on Sunday afternoon November 24, we will be meeting with the CultureBrave at Cultural Interiors, 4421 W. Slauson Ave. L.A. CA. 90043. There is ample parking in the back and refreshments will be served!

This book’s pre-sales have already put it at #1 on Amazon’s list of books about war and peacemaking. Amazon has ordered thousands of them and we’re excited by the feedback we are getting from our early readers. Join us if you can at one of the events above because I’d love to introduce you to Bob and Arnita. You can also pre-order your copy now from a number of outlets.

When we get done with this launch Thanksgiving will be upon us and soon the holidays and a new year. I haven’t worked out my travel yet, waiting to see how this new book influences the places I need to go, but I am actively considering trips in 2020 to, Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan, upstate New York, South Carolina, and West Texas. It will be interesting to see what God has in store in the days to come.

In addition to all of that, it’s my daughter’s birthday today, which we get to celebrate with an early dinner, and then late tonight the grandkids are coming for the entire weekend! My heart revels in such moments as these kids are growing so fast!  Even faster than ours, I think!


The Story Behind A Language of Healing

Sara and I are taking a break for a week so, please go easy on me email-wise while we are gone. This is Sara time, and perhaps the lull before the storm with the new book coming out and a bit of travel ahead.

Amazing news today! We just found out today that Amazon placed an order for 3,000 copies of A Language of Healing.  That’s astounding for this little book from a new publishing company! Obviously, there is a lot of interest for this title and we’re excited that it may give people a way to negotiate the growing tension in our culture.  I’ve been asked by some of our international readers whether this is for the United States alone.  It’s not. People in any polarized nation will find the strategies in it very useful.

The publishing date for the book is November 19, but we are having two weekends around that to celebrate the launch and where we’ll have books available. You can join us in Dallas for the first book launch on November 17,  It will give you a chance to meet all the authors and talk about our passion to change the conversation one person at a time.  Details are on the ALanguageOfHealing website.  Also, the day before (Saturday, November 16) we will be hosting our first seminar about the content of the book. We’ll be meeting from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The cost is $50.00 for the training, which will include an advance PDF copy of the book and a printed copy at the seminar. We only have room for 40, so sign up quick at the website or by emailing me.

The following weekend the team will be together again for a Book Launch in Southern California at Life Pacific University.  Details can be found at A Language of Healing website or you can email me to register. I hope some of you can come join us and help us begin a different sort of conversation in the world.

I can’t wait for you to meet my coauthors, Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor. The connections between us have not only been orchestrated by God, but the synergy between our thinking has been transformative to each of us. This has been such an amazing journey.

Here’s a sneak peek at the introduction to this book and how it came to be.


Have you ever found yourself in an awkward moment with someone different from you?

Maybe you both heard a joke at the same time, but your reactions were wildly different. Have you ever made a comment that you found out later was offensive to others, when you didn’t mean it to be? Are you afraid to initiate a conversation with someone different from you for fear you’ll say the wrong thing or be misinterpreted?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in good company. Our social fabric is unraveling as anger and vitriol rule the national dialogue. Offenses are easily taken… and too often intended. We are losing our ability to communicate gracefully with people of different cultures, interest groups, or opinions.

Political parties exploit it, the media sells it, and Russian troll farms exacerbate it. And they will continue to as long as the electorate falls for it.

Aren’t you done with all of that?

Our differences cannot be an excuse to vent our anger and animosity. We can hold to differing views and argue for them passionately without resorting to contempt, suspicion, and accusations. If we can manage this, we’ll not only learn more about each other, but we might also find ways to work together for our shared interests, guarding our own dignity by giving it to others.

This is a book for those who are tired of being spun by politicians and media and having their personal relationships destroyed by differences in religion, race, sexuality, and politics. It’s for those who want to find ways to communicate and cooperate beyond our most deeply rooted differences. It’s for those who realize that in the shared spaces of our society we have more to gain through mutual understanding than from the politics of polarization.

If you enjoy the fight or profit by it in money, votes, or clicks, you will not enjoy this book. While it’s not about linguistics per se, it is about speaking a language that dials down the anger and opens the door to listening to others as much as we want to be heard.

The idea for this book began with Bob Prater, a former pastor, lumber company manager, entertainment developer, and father of three daughters. He spends a lot of his time with people who have been marginalized—the poor, the LGBTQ community, and others who’ve been abused or fallen through the cracks of our society. He’s also been a bridge to the Muslim community in his own city of Bakersfield, California. His friendship with people in these groups, however, has caused great concern among his friends in the evangelical community.

Bob thought their combined experiences could help dispel the growing anger in our culture. In addition, Wayne is theologically and politically conservative, while Bob is more progressive on both scores. They have butted heads often on various issues, but through their conversations only grew closer as friends. Both disdain the polarizing rhetoric that has taken over the country.

Bob also had a third person in mind—a female politician in California who would bring more perspective to the conversation. Unfortunately, she bowed out in the end, and they began to seek another voice to enrich the content of the book. During that time, Wayne met with some people in a home in Dallas, Texas, when in walked Arnita Taylor, feigning frustration at having been passed over for the role of Papa in the movie The Shack, based on a book Wayne coauthored.

Arnita is an African-American woman from middle Tennessee, now living in a mostly white suburb. Arnita was trained as a laboratory chemist, raised two young men with her husband, earned a graduate degree in leadership development from Walden University, was employed in church ministry at a predominately white congregation, and is the founder of EIGHT Ministries (a consulting agency for leadership development).

During the meeting, comments were made displaying some insensitivity on racial issues. Before Wayne could jump in and help with any potential offense, Arnita spoke up. As Wayne recalled the conversation, in the most gracious way imaginable Arnita helped the room communicate more wisely and freely about racial differences. “Now, I’m not going to take offense to that,” Arnita would say, “but this is how others I know might hear that…” Her honesty and demeanor invited others into a conversation and added to an already enriching discussion. Wayne wondered at the time if she might be the third voice they were looking for.

Shortly after, Wayne called Bob and they discussed the possibility of adding Arnita to the authorship of A Language of Healing. After a few more meetings, it was clear that Arnita was the right fit for the project though they had no prior relationship with her.

Thus, began A Language of Healing… During the course of writing together not only was Arnita a valuable contributor, but she also became a treasured friend. As you’ll see, each chap- ter is written as a conversation between them, with sketches to help identify who is doing the talking in any given paragraph. Though framed as a conversation, the words were edited to flow seamlessly from paragraph to paragraph. However, in many cases, who was speaking was even more important than what was said to give the words context. You’re invited to eavesdrop on their conversation and, by doing so, are encouraged to learn a different language for your own relationships.

None of them claim to be an expert in the language of healing, though they are avid learners. They are three very ordinary Americans, who are tired of the polarized rhetoric and name-calling that surround issues of religion, politics, sexuality and race. They all enjoy a number of deep friendships with people who have very different views and experiences, and they appreciate what they learn in those relationships. This is their appeal for all of us to seek better ways to communicate with our family and friends in these critical areas.

They are not social scientists using formal qualitative or quantitative research. They are concerned citizens, learning from one another while adding their own personal narratives. They are not writing for the politicians and pundits in Washington, D.C., but to other people who don’t want differing perspectives to further divide us. They hope better dialogue and greater compassion will lead to more mutually satisfying answers to the problems we face.

None of them are trying to convince you their opinion is the right one, but rather they want to model how friends can talk through combustible issues. When you realize you don’t have to convince people you are right and they are wrong, you get to grow by appreciating that others look at the world differently. The substance of their conversation is in their mutual respect and the desire to find a common ground larger than their own preferences.

Try it. You’ll find that issues are more nuanced than you’ve been led to believe, and you may discover some rich friendships along the way. The book is divided into three main sections:

  • An opportune Moment. Why is this a particularly propitious moment to elevate the conversation, at least for the vast majority of Americans who are tired of those who manipulate them through fear and anger?
  • Five practices of a peacemaker. What does it take for someone to be in a conversation to help lower the heat and increase the level of communication, especially where we hold significantly different views?
  • Operating in shared space. Our deeply held views do not have to be subjugated to cooperate with others, we only have to look to make as much space for their views as we want for ours.

At the end of each chapter, you’ll find three suggestions you can use to practice the language of healing in your own day-to- day interactions. Choose any one of them and see how it can expand your ability to engage a wider variety of people.

We all win if you take one of the chapter topics to explore more deeply. We all win if your level of understanding increases even slightly. We all win if you take this book into a book club and have your own conversation about differences in our culture. We all win when these chapters are used as discussion starters in college classrooms or used in high school civics. We all win if you learn to listen better to people who see the world differently than you do.

The hope is that everyone who reads this will gain a little more awareness about themselves. You don’t have to agree with everything here, but if you can at least acknowledge the validity of varying perspectives and communicate about them more generously, you can help repair the rip in our societal fabric. Just maybe something you read will encourage you to more harmony and peace with your family, colleagues, and friends. Even better, you may learn something here that will give you the insight to solve a problem or repair a broken relationship.

Polarity damages people. The current atmosphere is saturated with disdain for one another. It’s time for a new approach that celebrates our common humanity.

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
— Anne Lamott

You can pre-order your copy of A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation here.

After a Marvelous Summer…

I’ve been in Sara’s presence every day for the last four months, as long a stretch as I can remember over the last twenty years. Any travel I did, we did together and it has been wonderful, even though the reason for doing so was to finish up a couple of books and help some friends in Wyoming launch a new publishing company. It also allowed some great children and grandchildren time too. Next week I head out again to spend some time with people who are exploring various facets of learning to live in the Father’s affection and to explore relational community in a way that lets Jesus’ church take shape wherever we are.

I’ll begin my first trip with a quick weekend in Atlanta, GA, and then head out to Lake Jocassee during the week to finally finish my third book this summer—a novel set during the Civil War that a dear friend of mine has been writing for the past eight years. After that, I head up to Damascus, VA for a weekend and then back to Charlotte for one night before I fly home. If you’re in the area, and hunger for some connection, come join us.

Then in October, I’m doing a seminar in Miami, FL called The Freedom to Live Loved. How would I live differently today if I was completely at rest in the Father’s love for me? I’ll be covering what I’ve discovered about that over the last ten years as the fruit of what I wrote in He Loves Me. We’ll have two sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday. Then I’ll make my way over to Sarasota, FL toward the middle of the week, then finish up Sunday north of Tampa.  If you want more details on any of these stops, please find the appropriate link on my Travel Schedule.

I also carried on a lengthy correspondence with someone dealing with healing and the death of his spouse. With his permission, I’ve shared that exchange in twelve installments on this blog. If you missed it, you can start it here. The response from people reading it and how it’s impacted them in the face of their loss or unanswered prayers, has been overwhelming. I’m grateful for every one.

Here’s one I got the other day:

I’ve just finished reading Part 7 of your correspondence with Alan. You mentioned, in either Part 6 or Part 7, that you hoped the words you both exchanged would touch others as well. I can assure you that they have and continue to. All of our circumstances differ, but the rock solid foundational truths of the love of God are universal to us all. I had believed as Alan does that God could have (should have) fixed whatever problem was current. If there was no “fix” forthcoming clearly my faith was too small. The other day I believe I saw a truth… “if I have faith as a mustard seed”…there is a current song that says “they say if I have little faith, I can move mountains… good thing, little faith is all I have.”

I saw that, having passed through grief in the past, it is precisely at those times that my faith is so precious and that God knows in those moments how we struggle. I am left standing with only the knowledge that God loves me and that He is good, in everything, and always. He is not saying “shame on you, your faith is so small.” He is saying “I see your faith and I do love you, come to Me.”

Thank you from a very grateful woman. Just a thought, if possible, you could put all of the episodes in book form. They truly are wonderful.

Many have made that same suggestion, so people can read that exchange more easily. I am considering it, but too busy to do much about it at the moment.

One of the books I finished was a rewrite for a friend in France, but her family has decided to go a different direction. The other one we’ll be releasing in November this year. It is called A Language of Healing for a Polarized World. The subtitle is:  Creating safe environments for conversations about race, politics, sexuality, and religion. It is a collaboration of three people—Arnita Taylor (a leadership development specialist from Dallas, TX), Bob Prater (a former pastor from Bakersfield, CA who hosts a podcast called A Christian and a Muslim Walk Into a Studio), and myself.

This book looks to invite, inform, and ignite people to learn a new language to communicate generously across political and religious lines. Drawn from my 25 years of experience with my work at BridgeBuilders, Arnita’s heritage growing up as an evangelical black woman in Tennessee, and Bob, born in a racist home, has a passionate ministry to reach out to marginalized people with the love of God and has profound connections to the poor, the sexually marginalized, the Muslim community, and blacks in his community. This book doesn’t resolve our policy differences but helps to create an environment in which those differences can be discussed to better solutions than either side proposes. It is not written to change the culture in Washington (though we hope it helps), but to help people navigate the relationships around them in a way that promotes healing instead of the angry vitriol so prevalent in our culture.

I got this review of it just this morning:

A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation is the book we need at this critical moment in our history. At a time when many Americans are reduced to shouting past one another, the authors of this volume–three thoughtful, compassionate citizens–give us a roadmap to restore civility and respect across even our deepest differences. Filled with honest dialogue, inspiring stories and practical advice, this compelling volume should be required reading for every American committed to seeking a common vision for the common good.

Dr. Charles C. Haynes. Founding Director
Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute

We are already getting some amazing endorsements from around the country I can’t wait to share with you.  That will come soon.

And to publish that book, I’ve been helping Kyle and Jess, some dear friends of ours, launch a new media company. They’ve been on some podcasts with me at The God Journey and will be more so, not to promote books, but to help make a lot of what we discuss here more accessible for those in their 20s and 30s. I’m excited to see where that might go.

So, this has been both a full and a fulfilling season. Now, it’s time to hit the road again.


The Transformative Power of Living Loved

This is probably one of the best podcast interviews I’ve ever had the joy to participate in. And, not because I was particularly brilliant but because the host was so hungry to interact on the content of He Loves Me. I couldn’t have been more surprised. I usually don’t do things targeted to men because so much of “men’s ministries” are filled with performance and accountability.

This one wasn’t. The host, Jim Ramos, had not read my book previously, and when he did, it hit him right where he is on his own journey. He wanted to process what I had experienced in moving from performance-based living to embracing the Father’s affection. I loved this conversation.

Jim said of my book, “This book is so rich and so good. It hits the heart of where men are. We need to get this book in the hands of guys. Performance-based religion is the default for men in America, and it has been mine… Your writing style is simple and heartfelt, very fluid, and easy to read.”

It’s a great conversation sorting out what it means to be transformed by love, instead of trying to earn God’s approval from our own efforts. We talk about all the biggies—wrath, fear, love, and transformation. To me there are two great benefits of living in the Father’s love, not only do we get an ever-deepening relationship with him, but we also get the fruit of that relationship in the growing transformation in our own lives.

Too many people who teach grace and love, only go so far as giving people comfort from their guilt or works. That’s not enough for me. Living loved lets us engage him in a growing relationship of tenderness, and as we live there, love begins to change the way we think about everything, and with that, we begin to live differently. Instead of being captive to our sin and less stellar appetites, we get to experience what a growing trust in God’s love produces in us, a freedom to navigate life with his purpose in mind and not so manipulated by the whims of others.

If you’ve been raised in the Christian religion, then you’ve been deeply schooled in performance-based living. The real fruit of grace is not an excuse to remain in our captivity to sin, but in how it “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” Titus 2:11-12.

And he’s the one doing the work in us, not us trying to do it for him. If that’s where your learning curve is now, this podcast may help you.


The Joys and Pain of Collaboration

I owe you an apology. For the past few months, I’ve been talking about a book I was working on with a friend from France. I told you we were hopeful for a September release, and now that isn’t going to happen. It is now quite unlikely at this point that you will ever get to see the manuscript I was working on with her. For reasons I still don’t understand, her family has pulled out of the collaboration and cut off communication with me.

I told you a few weeks ago that I was on a familiar road collaborating on a new book, though I hoped this one had a better outcome. Well, it didn’t. Unfortunately, that uncharted road quickly became a road with which I’m all too familiar. It’s hard to talk about these things and protect people I love, but I’m already getting a lot of questions I want to try and answer.

One week after I finished working on the manuscript, the author wrote me to say how incredibly grateful she was, especially thanking me for the last line, which I gave her from another novel I was writing. It fit so perfect in her story. She compared me to a diamond maker who brought the brilliance of a story she created. After I sent the approved manuscript to the editor, however, I got a disturbing email. It contained suspicions about my ulterior motives. Her tone had shifted dramatically as she told me in subsequent emails that she wanted control of everything in France and would not follow through on any of her assurances over the past eight months.

Collaboration is always a risk, and all the more so here because of the geographical distance and the language barriers. When I was hesitant, she repeatedly assured me that God was in this and that she would honor our work together. I thought the beauty in her story was worth the risk. I have a seven-year friendship with her and her family, a deep love for them, and eight incredible months working on this book with her. I am confused but not devastated.

Of the dozens of collaborations I’ve worked on, only two have gone off-track and ended valued friendships. Interestingly enough, however, they have all followed the same pattern. Other voices get involved who wanted to profit from the collaboration. They start by making accusations about my motives, then assert whatever control they can to take over the project. Finally, no matter how much they have said in the past, they now have a fresh word from God telling them not to continue. Of course, there is no way to discuss anything after that, which is why people pull that trump card. The reason it rings so hollow with me is that people who hear from God are more grace-filled and apologetic, especially when it’s a complete change of their prior assurances. Finally, they cut off any further communication and raise the drawbridge on the friendship by telling me not to contact them directly.

So, I’m there again and I don’t have the foggiest idea why. This is an abrupt end to what had been a delightful season in my life. I only wanted to help a friend get her wonderful story more widely read in the world, and gave her the best I had to help make that happen. However, she has now decided to revert to her original story and discard all I had done to help re-write it and get it published here in the States. It makes me sad to know there’s a beautiful manuscript in the world that you may never see. I still feel God was in this process, and that somehow fear and darkness have cut in to send it sideways.

People are already asking me why I do this when it can turn so hurtful in the end? I’m crazy, I guess. I believe in the power of collaboration. Everything is better when multiple people bring their various insights to give a more rounded picture of God. Scripture teaches that God gives gifts so that through the whole of the body, “the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” I think the enemy freaks out where brothers and sisters collaborate in love and sacrifice. I don’t think God intended for any of us to go it alone. I know what The Shack would have been like if Brad and I hadn’t put sixteen months into the re-telling of that story, and I know you would never have heard of it if we hadn’t.

My friends are also asking why I don’t get people under contract at the start, to guarantee they will follow through, before spending so much of my time and money on a project. The answer is simple. I don’t know how to collaborate without shared tenderness, honesty, and faithfulness. I thought we had that here until we didn’t. I have no idea at the beginning how any collaboration will turn out and what will be fair for everyone. I just figure if people keep walking together in agreement, we will get to see what Father has in mind. The results can be fantastic.

The other reason I don’t make contracts at the start is that they don’t work either. I have signed agreements with people and companies who violate them every day. The only way to enforce a contract is to be willing to sue dishonest people. I’m not that guy. I learned a long time ago if someone doesn’t respect their word, they won’t honor their signature either unless threatened to do so.

Will I stop collaborating? No. I’m pretty sure it’s in Father’s heart. I try to be careful to do it where it is a blessing, not when people end up despising me. I don’t enjoy being used, or having my word tied to someone else’s capriciousness. What I don’t know is how people will change in the process, especially when I’ve finished what I said I would do.

For now, I’ve switched tracks. Before this newest book came into my life, I was already working with those two delightful people pictured above on a book tentatively titled The Language of Healing: Creating Safe Environments to Talk about Race, Politics, Sexuality, and Religion. With me in that photo is Arnita Taylor, a mom to two sons, a former staff pastor, a leadership coach, and an encourager I met last year in Dallas, Texas. The other guy is Bob Prater, a father of three, also a former pastor, long-time friend, podcaster, and an encourager to marginalized people in Bakersfield, California. I can tell you my life has been deeply and permanently changed for the better by these people and the process of collaborating with them.

We’ve been working on this book for almost 18 months. We had all the pieces in place, but it wasn’t reading as smoothly as any of us hoped. Both of them were able to come to my home this past weekend, and in long, exhausting, laughter-filled days, we went through every word of the manuscript and made it read so much better. We are all thrilled with how it has turned out and hope to release it early in November this year.

Here are three paragraphs from the Introduction to whet your appetite:

This is a book for those who are tired of being spun by politicians and media and having their personal relationships destroyed by differences over religion, race, sexuality and politics. It’s for those who want to find ways to communicate and cooperate beyond our most deeply-rooted differences, realizing that in the shared spaces of our society we have more to gain through mutual understanding than the politics of polarization.

The hope is that everyone who reads this will gain a little more awareness about themselves. You don’t have to agree with everything here, but if you can at least acknowledge the validity of varying perspectives and communicate about them more generously, you can help repair the rip in our societal fabric. Just maybe something you read will encourage you to more harmony and peace with your family, colleagues, and friends. Even better, you may learn something here that will give you the insight to solve a problem or repair a broken relationship.

We all win if you take one of the chapter topics to explore more deeply. We all win if your level of understanding increases even slightly. We all win if you take this book into a book club and have your own conversation about differences in our culture. We all win when these chapters are used as discussion starters in college classrooms or used in high school civics. We all win if you learn to listen better to people who see the world differently than you do.

No, we haven’t signed any contracts yet. Given our time this weekend and the depth of love we have for each other, I’d be surprised if this one goes sideways. I know, I’ve been surprised before!

So, we’ll see what happens. I guess you’re in this with me, too.

More Uncharted Roads

First, a great quote:  In last week’s podcast, I read a quote taken from a June 2019 Atlantic article entitled, Abolish the Priesthood. An incisive read on its own merits that has application in the Evangelical church world as well, it contained this quote:

The first reference to the Jesus movement in a nonbiblical source comes from the Jewish Roman historian Flavius Josephus, writing around the same time that the Gospels were taking form. Josephus described the followers of Jesus simply as “those that loved him at the first and did not let go of their affection for him.”

What a wonderful identifier of God’s people in the world! I’ve been chewing on that sentence for the last couple of weeks.  It sums up well the aspiration of my heart and allows me to follow the nudges on my heart.

A few have asked why I’ve not posted much here of late. The short answer is I’ve got two books on final approach and am giving all my time to getting them ready for editing and publication. One is my collaboration on THE CITY, a novel written by a French housewife about how we learn to live in the Father’s kingdom. Sara and I have known the family for over seven years, and I have been working with Claire to brighten the story and add some of my insights to the English version. This has not been easy knowing it didn’t turn out so well the last time I tried to help someone. In the end, however, I really felt as if Jesus was asking me to do it again, even if it all goes wrong. Though I have better assurances and a better relationship this time, no one really knows how the future will play out. But this is a book I want in the world, and I think Jesus does too.

Early feedback from a few people who’ve read it for me has me astounded. Although I don’t expect anything close to the numbers we had with THE SHACK, I do believe this story is as transformative. This story touched in my heart, what THE SHACK touched in my mind. This story will help people discover how the love of God will transform the way they live in the world. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Kyle and Jess Rice from Torrington, WY

And to publish it, I am helping a young couple from Wyoming start a publishing company. Kyle and Jess Rice, whom I interview on today’s podcast, have been friends for several years. I love their passion for Jesus and their desire to help others live in the reality of Father’s affection, and they want to unfold that message in a way that resonates with people in their 20s and 30s. We’ve talked for years about collaborating together, and now we’re actually going to head down that road. They will publish THE CITY and THE LANGUAGE OF HEALING, which I’m also finishing up with two co-authors, Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor. That’s a joy too! We actually had some publishing companies seek us out on these titles, but in the end, I didn’t want to put them through the Christian publishing machine, and all that means. I’d rather give wings to them as Jesus leads us and release them into the world to travel as far as he desires. It’s a risk, it always is, but I’m excited to see what he might do.

On the local front, I’ve been asked by a team in our community to help process the twin tragedies we had here in Thousand Oaks, CA last November. On a Wednesday night, our city faced a mass murder at a local country & western hangout, and the next day we were confronted with two wildfires that did extensive damage to our community and surrounding ones. Several community leaders hope to bring this city together by letting people share their stories under the banner of “Finding Strength Together.” Over the last few years, I’ve had a growing desire to find a way into this community and serve it, beyond the relationships I already have. I’m thrilled to be invited into this collaboration and use my gifts to help others tell their stories as part of a process of healing.

So, that’s why I’ve not blogged much, why I’m horribly behind on my email, and why I won’t be traveling much this summer. I do have a lot of family obligations at home this June, but was planning on heading for Kenya the first two weeks of July. However, due to road construction in the areas I wanted to visit, we’re going to postpone that trip to a later date.  So, I have the time to help launch a publishing company and complete these two titles for a Fall 2019 release.

Two years ago, none of these projects were visible on my horizon, except Kenya of course. I love the way he brings new things into my life out of nowhere, and then nudges me into projects that enrapture my heart as well as enlighten my mind. They’ve also allowed me to get to know people better that greatly enrich my life.

So, times they are a’changin’ here. A fresh wind blows and draws me down uncharted roads. Come with me if you want; pray for us, if you will. This will at least prove interesting.

Living Lighter

Yesterday at lunch, a dear friend asked me what I had learned in the last ten years in my exploration of Father’s affection. I first started thinking of lessons or truths I had gained, but then my mind quickly went to how differently this journey allows me to live. I am less worried about achievements, more present with the people I’m with at any moment and have far less angst to convince people of anything. That allows me to live with a lighter hand, with the freedom to not be so worried about how I’m being perceived that I can’t respond more simply and freely to others around me.

Nowhere has that produced fruit I enjoy more than in my relationship with this woman. Today Sara and I celebrate forty-four years together—forty-four incredible years! For us, this is not an endurance project, staying together because we said we would. Every year of the last twenty has been better than the year before. We find ourselves today celebrating our love, our partnership in negotiating life together, and our presence with each other as we endure the challenges and pain of growing older together. This woman makes my heart beat faster when I see her, adds so much beauty and texture to my life and models a self-sacrificing love for our family that makes life so precious.

No, it has not all been puppy dogs and rainbows. Over those forty-four years, we’ve also had the days-long, painful, and frustrating conversations that have helped us learn to love more deeply. We’ve hurt the other by selfish actions and miscommunicated in ways that have challenged that love. We’ve acted selfishly and lived to regret it. We’ve disagreed over critical decisions to great frustration. But through it all, we’ve learned that a heartfelt apology can heal anything. We have found our way to solutions we could both embrace wholeheartedly.  We’ve endeavored to live in a way that the other is never our victim, but always our valued partner. We’ve made room for God’s work in the other, allowing them to change by changing along with them. We have been with each other in our worst moments and seen the darkest recesses of the other’s soul and become the other’s primary cheerleader for more freedom in the love of Jesus.

Truthfully, he’s the real hero in this marriage, giving us insight and courage to keep doing what love led us to do. We don’t see these forty-four years as an achievement of our discipline and commitment. That could have won us a life-long marriage, but it also could have been lifeless endurance. We see these years as a triumph of grace. Somehow, Jesus has held us in this relationship and taught us to love the other like the other needed to be loved. We’ve confronted the relationship-sabotaging weaknesses of our flesh and found his strength to embrace the healing. Neither of us is the same person that we were on the day we stood before family and friends and pledged our lives to the other, but I love the woman Sara is becoming even more, and I’m sure Sara loves the current me more, too.

I can’t imagine this relationship getting any better, but I know it will. No doubt, there’s still more freedom ahead for both of us, and our relationship is the first place we get to celebrate it. There is no one I’d rather be with than this woman, no one whose wisdom I regard more highly or whose presence sets my heart at rest more completely.

Those who think longevity can lead to boredom have not tasted a relationship like this. I feel bad for those whose marriages don’t endure the painful bits, where selfishness rules instead of where love serves. My heart breaks when I hear of abuse or neglect that has shredded a couple’s affection for each other. No one deserves to be victimized by another, especially the person closest to them. We were created to be loved and though we can only find that first in the Father himself, seeing it reflected in another human being who knows all your secrets and still adores and admires us, is a gift for the ages.

I am grateful for Sara and the courage she has shown to keep growing as a person and to always make room for me in her life. I’m grateful to God for holding us through the darkest storms and giving us his wisdom to resolve our conflicts and embrace the other more wholeheartedly. It’s the delightful fruit of learning to live inside of love, and I want that for everyone.

Don’t just endure life with your spouse; let Jesus keep teaching you how to love more freely, and thus more lightly. It will take you through some dark and challenging waters, but doing so is its own reward.

Placed in the Hearts of Others

Some thoughts while waiting at Newark Airport this morning:

This week, Sara and I have been in New York City with our oldest granddaughter. As she prepares to graduate eighth grade and start high school, we wanted to spend some time with her in a place she’s always longed to see. The three of us have had the best time exploring the city and taking her to Broadway since she loves drama and is quite good at it. Today we head separate directions—Sara goes home with our granddaughter, and I head to Pittsburgh and West Virginia for the weekend.

Last week, I posted on FB an acknowledgment of all the birthday greetings I received. In that post, I mentioned a bit about Sara as the one who really facilitates all I do in the world.  “I wouldn’t be the man I am without that girl. I couldn’t do what Father has asked me to do in the word without that girl. We wouldn’t be on this journey without her courage to follow the Lord’s leading beyond the edges of the maps religion gave us. No one pays a bigger price for what we do than she does. I love it when so many of you acknowledge that in my travels. You realize that Sara pays a huge price in all of this, too. And I think it touches her when I tell her that you’re aware.”

After that posted I received an email from someone across the U.S. They suggested someplace we might visit while in NY because she thought Sara would enjoy it.   Then she wrote this:

“I don’t know if she came to mind for any reason. Maybe you all will want to go there or maybe it is just evidence of how your love for Sara is contagious and you have placed her in our hearts, too. Hmmm… Is that what you are doing with Papa?”

That made me smile, on both counts. I love placing Sara in people’s hearts, though I’ve never thought of it in those terms.  But I do so intentionally. Sara and I are one, and to know me is to know Sara, at least I hope so. Even when she can’t travel with me, I want people to know her and feel connected to her as well. Watching her journey up close and personal has been one of the most incredible joys of my life, and I enjoy the insights Father has given her along the way.

Wanting to place her on people’s hearts is also a deliberate act. When I first started traveling I had overtures from some women that made me uncomfortable, and some that were overtly inappropriate. But I also noticed that when I talked about Sara, those overtures didn’t happen. Once people knew how devoted I am to the love of my life, no one dared crossed those boundaries.

But I also love the second part of her comment, “Is that what you are doing with Papa?” I hope so. I’ve never thought of that in those terms either, but I hope my life does that. I hope I speak endearingly enough of Father and live authentically enough with him that others begin to catch glimpses of him in their own lives as well. And I don’t mean in that religiously manipulative way that turns people off to any mention of God. I want them to be as endeared to him as I am.

This all reminds me of an exchange I had over fifteen years ago. I’d spent an evening with someone who had been an elder of a large fellowship before he left it and the faith when he became disillusioned by seeing the private lives of the church staff and the guest speakers who had visited. We had a fun dinner together where we laughed and shared stories from our lives. At the end of it, I got an email from him. The subject line was, “Not Impressed.”  My heart sank until I read his first paragraph.

He wrote, that for the first time in his life, he came away from dinner with an author/speaker type and was not impressed with him. “At the end of the evening, I came home hungry not to know Wayne better, but wanting to know Wayne’s Father.”

That’s one of my favorite emails ever. If our lives can do that, especially when we’re not trying to make it happen, how awesome would that be?

Delightfully Overwhelmed

I’m off to Atlanta in the morning for a ten-day stay in Georgia and South Carolina.  As I do, I’ve been reminded this week about all the ways others help us do what we’ve been asked to do in the world.

Every year about this time we send out donation tax receipts to those in the U.S. who have helped us financially. While I don’t look at the giving records here, I get to write a letter of thanks to send with those receipts. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on all those who helped us over the past year. I realize financial support is just one of those ways, but we don’t send out receipts for the others. There’s no way for me to know all the prayers that are offered on our behalf, all the stories and bits of wisdom that are shared with us, and all the ways some of you pass on a quote or a link to a book or podcast that has touched you, or that you might think will bless others.

Here’s what I wrote to those who are part of our financial giving this year. It’s as true of all the other ways people have helped Sara and me do what God has asked us to do in the world:

I am always amazed at how this works even after twenty-four years. I simply do what God asks me to do in the world, and he keeps providing for it through people like you. And for the last ten years, we’ve added the needs of over 100,000 people we’ve come to love in Kenya, and he just keeps providing.

Your generosity has touched many. An entire area of Kenya is being transformed, and people are coming to know the Lord. It also allows me to give my life away, whether it be through personal connections, website content, or traveling the world at my own expense to places where people can’t even afford to help with my plane ticket. I don’t have to charge for anything I do, and that makes the message so much more powerful. Your generosity causes an overflow of thanksgiving around the world at the way Father makes himself known.

I am excited about some new opportunities coming in the year ahead, with the writing projects I’m involved in, the people Father is putting on my heart to visit, and the surprises I cannot yet foresee. I am absolutely delighted at what Father allows me to do and the vantage point he’s given me to see his glory unfold.

Thanks to those who have written reviews on Amazon that encourage others to check out our books, and to those who have sent cards or emails full of love and support for us to stay true to God’s calling, especially when times are difficult.  All of this has a part in the word getting out in the world that there is a journey in Jesus available to every one of us that allows us to live deeply in his love and share it with others.  We are deliciously overwhelmed with gratefulness to you and thanksgiving to the Father for the way all this has unfolded.

Perhaps this email says it best, understanding that it is written as much to you as it is to me… 

Thank you for all the wisdom you’ve given to my wife and me in the last few months. The last part of our journey has been coming out of a very conservative, rule-driven, doctrine-based church system, into the freedom of the God journey. God prompted me to listen to Finding Church just as we were in the last throes of leaving the church, and was like all the lights came on! God has pretty much showed us everything you said, but it put words to what I was feeling, and totally settled the idea of Church being believers interacting in everyday life, not a group gathering regularly, or ‘belonging’ to any particular group.

I guess your book confirmed what God has already put in our hearts, and gave us the confidence, that we were already there!  This is it, we don’t have to keep looking for the right ‘thing’.  Since then God has progressively freed us totally from anyone’s control, and at the same time given us 3 separate beautiful Christian families to fellowship with, as we feel led. 

I was also prompted to listen to So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore and more recently, He Loves Me. These were very helpful, lots of fresh perspectives, lots of ‘yes!’ moments. My wife is now reading He Loves Me and slowly letting God unravel all the brokenness she has, and I can see a father – daughter relationship forming.

We still have a long way to go in our relationship with Father, and the lies take a long time to unravel, but we are now in a safe environment which is allowing Father to work.

I have no idea how they found out about me or some of my books, but it often happens because someone like you passed it on to someone like them and that keeps slinging freedom all over the place. I am deeply grateful that so many of you who help us in so many ways pass the word along.


Upcoming Travel and Kenya Update

It’s been such a joy to be home for the last three and a half months to catch up with family and to advance the work on three books I’m currently pushing down the road—a novel called The City, written by a mom in France that unpacks the kingdom of God in a lovely way, a book about interpersonal relationships called The Language of Healing, and a novel set in the Civil War era by the man who presided over our wedding ceremony almost 44 years ago, called (tentatively) Lucien’s Crossing. But my toe is healing and it seems Father has some other adventures awaiting me elsewhere in the world.

At the end of this month I’ll be in the Atlanta area for ten days, then at the end of February in Eureka, CA.  After that I’ll make a quick trip to Tulsa, OK the first weekend of March and then Morgantown, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA at the end of it.  I may be teaching a DTS in Italy in late April and perhaps go to Norway and elsewhere in Europe thereafter. I’m also hoping to get to hang out with some Jesus-loving biker-types in Southern Illinois, but haven’t found a date for that yet.  Later this year I plan on getting back to Kenya to check on things there as we wind down our projects there and hope we’ve given them the tools to move ahead with a growing trust in Father’s provision for them.

Speaking of Kenya, we heard from them the other day with a new emergency. Some of our friends there began a school in a part of Kitale that was settled by displaced people from the tribal violence following the disputed election in 2008. It is an area of extreme need, where many of the adults are hopeless about job prospects and addicted to alcohol. Since school is not compulsory in Kenya, nor is it free, our friends started a school in a church building to educate the children and give them a way out of the hopeless cycle around them. Supporting the school was first picked up by some friends in Virginia for a couple of years, and then it has been part of our monthly support of $10,000 to help with all the needs in Kenya, including our special outreach to Pokot.

Recently torrential flooding there caused the sewage of the school to mingle with their water supply, causing sickness among staff and students. It took them a while to figure out the cause and now the local government wants to shut down the school if they don’t get a new water supply. Drilling a well there will cost $32,000. They have temporarily been transporting drinking water to the school, but wondered if we might help. We advanced them the money in hopes that some of you would join us in keeping that school afloat. If you’d like to help us please.

The needs here are ongoing as is our support for them. If you’d like to join us, you can direct it through Lifestream as contributions are tax-deductible in the U.S. As always, every dollar you send goes to the need in Kenya. We do not (nor do they) take out any administrative or money transfer fees. If you would like to be part of this to support these brothers and sisters and see the gospel grow in this part of Africa, please see our Sharing With the World page at Lifestream. You can either donate with a credit card there, or you can 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.

And for those following our saga in Kenya, they sent us a detailed year-end report. here are some excerpts from it:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, Living Loved Care Centre staff and the children, and also from the  coaches, schools, dispensary staff and the entire villages in Pokot as well as the Forkland School.

We appreciate your help in the Kitale area:

  • Gas station, which continues to buy food and pay the staff at the Living Loved Care Centre.
  • Grain enterprise, which helps us maintain the center, and educate the children in nearby schools, as well as help those go to college and university.
  • Forkland School, thanks you for helping them repair the facility when it was destroyed by wind and rain, and now we have a challenge with clean water. You can pray and advice us what to do since we are about to open the school, although the children were there.
Utensil stand to keep kitchen supplies clean

We thank you for supporting us in Pokot now for 3 years 7 months, and it has remain with 1 years 7 months, so the village will be sustainable, probably in July 2020.  There we are seeing villages transformed, helping them know that, although they are in rural areas filled with hardship, God loves them and he has a great purpose in their lives. Our coaches have done great things by teaching the villagers how to meet their challenges. Every village, which we are currently working with, now has water and we are making progress in other areas as well:

Education: Many families now understand the importance of taking their children to school and to keep their compound clean compared to the first time.

Outhouses for each home in Pokot

Hygiene/Health: As I flash back 3 years back, there were so many cases of malaria, typhoid and cholera and helping them with medicine was very expensive. Now, we have constructed 450 latrines with dozen of utensils stands to help the villages clean and hence reduce of the diseases causing micro-organism. Right now almost each household have utensil stands made of available materials and we are praying that in 17 months each household will have at least one  latrine. This is so amazing, as the saying goes better to prevent than cure. Thank to all those who stood with this community for purchasing iron sheets, cement, nails, polythene, and provide tools to build them.

Children enjoying the new crops they are raising

Micro-financing: This program has helped over 400 families start a business to be able to feed their families and run their home affairs.

Agriculture: We nw have farms raising sweet potatoes, cassava, corn, and other vegetables to help feed all the people.

Food donation: Thank you for supporting the aged and the breast-feeding moms on a monthly basis. The monthly amount here has been reduced due to the agricultural projects, which have greatly boosted food security in each village.

In my trip there later this year, we are hoping to make the necessary arrangements that will bring an end to our regular support there over the next few years and ensure that there will be sustainability beyond our involvement. Our desire was not to create programs there dependent upon ongoing support from us here, but for them to have the tools to go forward and trust Father’s provision for the future. We’ve had some great instruction by others who have done this by helping tap the creativity and industriousness of the people there. This will not be easy, of course, and I appreciate your prayers for me and them as we move forward.

It has been a joy to watch these people respond so joyously and so diligently to the opportunities now before them. The reports we get of their responsiveness to Jesus as well as their hard work to better their condition, are incredible. Who would have thought that our little corner of the web could have touched so many people so far away. And it’s all been through relationships that God orchestrated, and not our attempts to try to find a project like this. It’s what love led us to do.

The people of Pokot

Letting God’s Plans Unfold

Many of you know we are trying to make a movie of the story of Jake and John in So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. We announced two years ago that we were going to make an opportunity for people to give towards this as a way to have some “passion” money alongside the investment money. I’m grateful for the many of you who responded. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive enough to begin production right away. My producer has been looking elsewhere for the necessary funds, which has been made all the more difficult by Amazon and Netflix scooping up the independent projects to create their own original content. It has changed the available money for making small, independent films.

Interestingly enough, on my recent trip east a couple of people asked me about the movie and where we are in the process. After catching one of them up, they simply commented, “I think the time is now.”

Honestly, I have no sense of that. Converting this story into a movie has always been a long-shot in my mind, as much as I’d love to see it done. I do what I can to help it along, but I know many projects get as far as we have that don’t make it into final production. Getting the right people and the money to the starting line at the same time is quite an endeavor.

So, I was surprised when my producer wanted to talk this week. He told me that he had a recent conversation with another filmmaker who was also asking about this project. At the end of it, that friend said to my producer, “Relax. This will get done. Projects like this have their own time.”

“The time is now,” my producer found himself answering, to his own surprise.

When he told me that, I told him the conversation I had the previous week and he said, “I’m bursting out with goose bumps all over here.”

I love how God’s work gently unfolds in our lives. I’ve come to trust it over my own plotting and scheming. I know the frustration of asking God to give me wisdom about something I wanted to do and then feel as if he’s gone silent. Looking back, I now see that I was asking God to give me a strategy so I could work toward the outcome I desired. God didn’t go silent; he just didn’t have an answer for that. So, when he didn’t say what I wanted to hear it was easy to make up a process in my own head and attach his name to it. That is a futile road, for sure. When he didn’t honor my process, I felt even more abandoned.

But now, I’ve been won in to different space, knowing that God’s will for us unfolds in the circumstances of life. We want a strategy to implement; he wants a relationship where he will walk with us. I’m convinced that the best way for God NOT to get me where he wants me in six months, is to tell me. I’ll actually try to get there for him and mess it all up. But if I’ll just follow him today, and again tomorrow, six months from now I’ll be right where he wants me to be. Almost everything I’m involved in now was not part of my planning, but I wouldn’t trade how God has fulfilled the passions he put in me for anything I’d envisioned in the past. I love being in the moment with him, free to respond to the opportunities that come, rather than trying to claw my way to the destination I desire.

Even the cover art (see picture above), which was a gift from someone I didn’t even know, who lived in Chicago at the time, conveys that same reality. Some people thought the book didn’t offer enough “how-tos” at the end, but it wasn’t meant to. The invitation was to an adventure with him down the road less traveled, rather than a new methodology to try and create his church in our image.

I meet too many young people who are trying to strategize a new way of doing ministry. It’s an exhausting road with little real kingdom fruit. I encourage them to draw close to the Master and let him guide them through the circumstances that come their way. Rather than trying to impose our will, we get to flow with his as it winds through the circumstances and opportunities of life. Then we’ll find ourselves being fruitful in ways we’d never imagined and watch him open doors we could never have contrived. It’s slower this way, to be sure, but it is a more joyful and fruitful way to live.

Part of that phone call with my producer this week was to let me know he thinks he’s found a path to get us to that elusive starting line. A fortuitous experience working with another film crew has opened up some new options. I can’t say more than that now, but it will still take people with passion, both on the casting and production side as well as the money side. But this looks far more hopeful than it looked a few months ago.

For those of you interested in the movie, we made a video two years ago to let people know what we were doing. You can view it here:

The budget is currently estimated at $2 million. While we have had, and will continue to have, conversations with both conventional movie and private investors, we also want to include people who have a passion for the story. That will give us a seat at the table to help protect its message. So we’ve come up with the idea of raising funds through Lifestream. Not only will that give you a tax-deductible receipt, but give Lifestream a stake in the movie. If it generates a profit, our share of return will go to help fund our various projects around the world.

Click here to SEE LOOKBOOK Click the button here to view a copy of our Lookbook. In the industry it’s a representation of the movie we want to make and a feel for how it will look.

If you’d like to be involved with us financially, please scroll down to the bottom of this page for giving and reward options.

Seeing How God Works

Fall Newsletter from Lifestream

For most of my life I’ve tried to do God’s work, instead of doing mine.  And, honestly, I wasn’t very good at it. That didn’t keep me from trying, however.  That’s why in recent years I’ve come to love the prayer Paul prayed for the Colossians and to make it my own every day:

“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works…  As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. (Colossians 1:9-11 MSG)

That’s what I want.  I want my mind and spirit to be so attuned to God’s will that I can acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which he works. I wish someone had taught me that when I was younger. When we don’t have any understanding of how God works, we’ll spend all our energies trying to be God to others. Even on our best days, that will only make a mess of things.

  • When I was a pastor, I thought it was my responsibility to build the church, when Jesus said he would take care of it. (Matthew 16)
  • In sharing Christ, I thought I was supposed to bring the conviction of God, when Jesus said that was the Spirit’s job. (John 16)
  • I thought the body of Christ was called to walk in unity, when Jesus asked his Father to bring us there. (John 17)
  • I assumed it was my responsibility to be better for God, instead of coming to the end of my human efforts and learning to trust his power. (John 15, Philippians 2)
  • I don’t have to figure out the times and seasons of his return, because that is in the hands of the Father. (Acts 1)

Learning how God works changes everything! He’s not a projection of our better selves, but Wholly Other, who thinks and acts in ways that confound my natural mind. When we think we know best, for ourselves or others, we usually end up working against him rather than with him.

Jesus asked me to love others like he’s loving me, to proclaim with my life and words the reality of Christ, and to help those who want, to know the God I know. It has become a major focus of my walk now to see what God is doing and how he’s working, especially when he isn’t acting in the way I think he should. When he’s not doing what I think is best, what is he doing? That’s where we learn how different, and how much better his ways really are. It is so much easier to live inside what he asks of me today, when I see, if even just in glimpses, how he is working in people and situations around me.

It helps me be more patient, because I realize God is not in the hurry that I am. It makes me softer toward marginalized and hurting people, because I know he doesn’t always wave his magic wand and fix everyone’s need instantaneously, and more often he wants me to be his gift to them. I’m not so settled on my ease and comfort because I know there isn’t any tragedy that he can’t work in for incredible good. And when I’ve given up trying to change me, I give up trying to change others around me as well.

I’m still learning to take my cues from what Father is already doing. Ask him to show you in the very circumstances you’re in right now. Instead of giving into anxiety and trying to fix them yourself, ask him to show you what he is doing. When you know what he’s doing, then you’ll know how you can respond in trust and be part of what he’s doing.  It’s more fun than trying to do his job, that’s for sure!


A Huge Harvest in Pokot

Progress continues in Kenya, and I’m always blessed by those who help us. In the last couple of months, the pumps in the Living Loved Petrol Station (see picture above) that we built to support the orphanage, died after eight years. They were only meant to last five.  We had to replace them at a cost of $24,000. They are learning now to set funds aside each month to replace them at the end of the next cycle.

The four agricultural projects in Pokot have branched out to five and the produce has been prolific. You can’t imagine the joy and awe of people who have been nomadic throughout their history, to be able to grow their own food! They are euphoric, and grew so much that they had new expenses as to how to dry and store the produce for future months.  And thanks to so many of you who have continued to send in your gifts to help. We’re 2.5 years into a 5-year plan to help them gain some measure of sufficiency.  Even the local government has taken notice of these agricultural projects and are helping out as well.  If you have extra to help in this process, it will always help. As always, every dime you give us ends up in Kenya. We take nothing for administrative or financial transfer fees.


Travel to Year’s End and 2019

I head to San Diego County this weekend, and then after a brief trip through Wisconsin, Tennessee, and South Carolina, I’m returning home for year-ending (at least as far as travel goes) minor surgery on an old broken toe. I need a bone chip removed, which is working its way into a joint, but it will put me on injured reserve for the rest of the year. So, I’m going to be staying close to home through the holidays.

As far as 2019, I’m already praying about possible trips to: Northern California, Georgia, West Virginia, West Texas, Upstate New York/Toronto, Kenya, and Southern Florida. If you have anything on your heart, now is the time to let me know.

So, during the rest of this year I’ll be able to give some time to the three book projects that have captured my attention.

  • Lucien’s Crossing, my friend’s delightful tale of two boys, one a slave, the other the master’s son, growing up in the pre-Civil War south, through the Civil War itself, and then in its aftermath in New York City. It is an occasionally humorous, and always gripping adventure story where religion and faith hang in the background of our views of war and racism.
  • The Language of Healing, with co-authors Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor. Three common Americans look at the vitriol in our political and personal conversations and how to move away from the politics of polarization to have conversations about important matters in ways that bring healing rather than division.
  • The Healing, a novel I began in 2005 about how the gift of God draws us out of religious performance and into a way of living that is real and transformative.


A Man Like No Other, by Wayne JacobsenChristmas Shopping

As you consider gifts for friends and family this year, keep in mind the books and audio available in the Lifestream Store. Especially, A Man Like No Other is an excellent gift for people as it re-tells the life of Jesus without all the religious stuff we have added to him.  It’s book of paintings done my award-winning artist, Murry Whiteman with text by myself and Brad Cummings. It’s not a children’s book per se, but I know families who use it for a devotional because the pictures draw the kids in and the text often provokes lots of questions.  As a special, we are reducing the normal sale price by $5.00 until Christmas Day.  (As always with international  orders, please email the office for a quote. Shipping rates are always off for those orders.)


Discussing Community on Confronting Normal Podcast

Wayne was in Kelowna, BC recently at the invitation of the two young moms that host, Confronting Normal, a podcast that helps us rethink what “normal” spiritual life might look like. While there I recorded a two-part interview that is now available on their podcast. They asked some great questions and we processed some wonderful things together. If you’d like to listen to them you can get Part One here, and Part Two here.


In Case You Missed It… 

Here are some of the podcasts and blogs that have generated a lot of interest over the last couple of months.

Podcasts at

Wayne’s blog at

From Canada to Kiev

I just got back from Canada and am getting ready to head out to Kiev. This will be the strangest trip I’ve ever taken to Europe. I had a friend a few years back go to Russia for three days and I thought, who would fly that far for three days?  A few years later, I am doing the same thing. God has a rich sense of humor! I looked for other opportunities in Europe and nothing seemed to fit. Though I had a lot of friends in Europe I could have visited, nothing seemed to have the breath of Father on it. So, I am going to Kiev to meet with brothers and sisters who are wanting to help others grow in relationship with Father and be catalysts for community in their locales, and returning home after three days.  And, I suspect there’s something going on here at home that God wants me back for.

He Loves Me and So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore have been available in Russian for over a decade. They have really resonated with some hungry hearts there. I got to go to Russia seven years ago, and now I’ll be spending time in Ukraine, which is at war with Russia.  Other than the long flights both ways, I am looking forward to seeing what God is doing among our brothers and sisters there.

I had a great time in Canada last week. Starting in Calgary staying with some good friends and a return visit to a community there who really look to help others live in Father’s love. This time there was a lot of focus on the content from In Season, which has really had an impact on a number of lives there.

Then it was on to Kelowna, BC for more connections there at the invitation of Cindy and Renae, the co-hosts of Confronting Normal, a podcast about discovering what true normal is, not simply trusting the scripts we’ve been given. I taped two podcasts with them as well as being part of some gatherings that brought the community together. We had a Friday night discussion about, “What is the Church?” on a back patio, a gathering to talk about Beyond Sundays in a video studio (sorry, it wasn’t taped), and a morning conversation on the beach about raising children in Father’s affection.  We even got in a late Sunday round of golf at one of the most spectacular golf courses I’ve ever had the blessing to play. What a great time with lots of deep conversation and plenty of laughter too. I love that God has room for both—the seriously engaging, and the hilariously freeing.

There were a few ninja photographers there who sent me a lot of pictures I can share with you, if you’re interested….  Above you’ll see us on the beach for our discussion of parenting in a relational way.

Me with Renae (left) and Cindy (right) the hosts of Confronting Normal on the lakeshore

Our evening discussion about the nature of the Church in the world

Talking about Beyond Sundays

What a way to finish—great fellowship, good golfing, and spectacular views

I am grateful that God allows me to engage the people I get to be with all over the world, and the experiences we have together. So many people are exploring a different journey than conventional religion would dictate and finding Father to be all he said he is. And, oh yes, I made biscuits, 3 times.

Just this morning, I received a note from someone I met on this trip.  “I wanted to add my thanks to everyone else’s for taking the time to come and pour into us and our brothers and sisters here. We so enjoyed our “hang time” with you and a friend of mine was so impressed with your heart to make yourself available to chat, and to serve people right where they were at. She mentioned how much this was in contrast to the ‘big speaker-names out there’.  So we bless you and Sara, for serving the Kingdom at large – both at home and abroad; your sacrifice of time, energy and finances doesn’t go unnoticed!”

Invariably when I post something like this, people always ask, “How do we get Wayne Jacobsen to come where we are?” It all begins with an invitation, and then some prayer to discern God’s purpose or timing in it. When Sara and I and those inviting me sense that it seems good to us and the Holy Spirit, then I go. I do not charge for my coming and pay for all my own travel. If those inviting me can help offset those expenses, then great, but I have no expectation that they do so. Father always has a way to provide for what he desires.

We Have Returned!

You people are the best!

No, not those in the photo, although they are pretty awesome, but I’m talking about you—the people who read this blog.

Sara and I just returned from a ten-day vacation in the Caribbean we got to share with our kids and grandkids. We had such wonderful time and a what a great opportunity to relax with our family. Since I was not going to be off the grid mostly, I asked that people hold their emails until I returned since I would be off the grid during my stay.  And. You. Did.  I received the fewest emails ever in a ten-day stretch and just had a few to reply to this morning as we are settling back in. I was deeply touched and grateful to all of you who resisted the urge to write me during that time.

And what a vacation it was, too!  It couldn’t have gone better. I got my relax on with some golf, reading, beach time, snorkeling, swimming with the grandkids, walking with Sara, and best of all, the great conversations that come from spending so much time together. It’s a vacation I’ll remember for a long time. I’m thankful our family was able to get away together.

My vacation read this year was Grant by Ron Chernow.  He’s a great historian and I’ve read other works of his about some of our former presidents. Now that I’m helping a friend with a civil war-era novel, I was really looking forward to getting into this book. It has not disappointed! However, I had some other books to finish up first, so didn’t get to it until until well into our time there. Thus, I’m only half way the 1,024-page read but am finding it fascinating. History really does give us context for our own lives and interactions with others, and reminds us of horrible times people endured in our nations history.

I’m amazed at two things so far: the pettiness of generals and politicians even in war time. While young men are dying on the battlefield, they are squabbling over who can get the most power. When a field general showed great promise in war tactics, they would pull him from the field and bury him in paperwork somewhere, because those above him were afraid he’d outshine them and they would get reassigned. At times, as they did with Grant, they would make up rumors of being drunk on the battlefield, simply to discredit it him.

The other thing that amazed me is how so many of the generals on both sides of the conflict had been friends before. They knew each other each other well from having been at West Point together and many fought side by side in the Mexican War.  Now they are pitted against each other. How horrible that must of been! In fact, when the Confederate forces surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, three of those surrendering had been in Grant’s own wedding party well before the war.  How easily “an issue” can pit good friends against each other as mortal enemies.

It amazes me how we expect that people will be honest, treat us fairly, and that we will be rewarded on our merits. We are always so shocked when people don’t turn out to be who they present themselves to be, or we are confronted with circumstances we don’t deserve. The Bible is full of that, too. We should know better. Life is unfair; people will treat you horribly just out of petty jealousies and personal greed; and not all sacrifices are well-rewarded, at least in this life. It reminds me to keep setting my heart in a better kingdom with a Father who is not only incredibly loving and tender, but honest and fair. Not all will be settled in this age the way we think best. He won’t always do what we want, but he will never fail us. Even through the brokenness of this age he can guide us, setting us ever more free from the tyranny of our own desires, to find a greater freedom in the knowing of him.

Next week I am leaving for a brief trip to New England. I’m doing a retreat at a campsite in Winthrop, ME the weekend of July 13-15, then hanging on for a few days with friends in Maine before heading south to Reading, MA for a few days.  You can get details and contact info here if you’re in the area and want to join in while I’m there.

A Christian and a Muslim Walk Into Common Ground

I was asked this week to appear again on the podcast, “A Christian and Muslim Walk Into a Studio“, hosted by Bob Prater and Emad Meerza. Bob is a long time friend, and I’m really enjoying building a new friendship with Emad.  This time I put them through their paces walking them through the Eight Proven Guidelines for Civic Engagement that I used to utilize in my BridgeBuilder trainings years ago:

#1:  You can’t compel people to change their worldview.

#2:  No one should be asked to participate in a society biased against themselves.

#3:  Vilifying those who disagree with you says more about you than it does about them.

#4:  Making room at the table for divergent views does not validate those views.

#5:  You best protect your civic freedoms by protecting those of people who disagree with you.

#6:  If you do not include all the stakeholders you cannot fix the problem.

#7:  Cooperation cannot require compromise of our deepest convictions.

#8:  The best solutions arise from seeking highest possible consensus.

I think you’ll enjoy the conversation.  You can watch the video of our conversation here, or find it on iTunes if you want the audio version. Just search, “A Christian and a Muslim Walk into a Studio.”

There’s also a new episode of The God Journey up today, called Breaking Up With God, which has Brad and I seeking our own common ground about those who are losing their faith in God.

Additionally Bob, Arnita, and I have already sorted through two of our chapters for the collaborative book, The Language of Healing, and am thrilled with where that might lead.

Interesting times…

No wonder some call him Jehovah Tdsnikki.

Down an Uncertain Path

My last blog talked about restarting BridgeBuilders.  This has been a weird time for me. I sense at times God’s prodding to journey a bit down a road I thought had been long abandoned. To be honest, however, I’m a bit reluctant to open all this up again in this season of my journey.  In response to that blog posting, a lady I know sent me the following email.

Just finished listening to your latest podcast about the “revival” of Bridge Builders, and I am so grateful that God is giving you platforms to share a peacemaker’s message.  My heart has been heavy for so long watching the way we are tearing one another apart.   Knowing how afraid we all are (and have been, probably since 9-11), it is understandable that our “fight-or-flight” system stays triggered all the time.  We no longer use our prefrontal cortex, spiraling downward into animalistic, survival behaviors.  Everyone who is different from us–or thinks differently–is the “enemy”, which must be destroyed.

Someone has to speak a calming message; Someone has to get us to take a collective breath; Someone has to tell us there is a better way.

I know you have just reached that “now-I-get-to-rest” milestone of turning 65 (belated happy birthday!), and it would be completely understandable if you chose to walk away from the doors which seem to be opening, inviting you to step in.  But, thank you for being willing to press on a little longer.  Thank you for being willing to be the peacemaker our world so desperately needs right now.  I am praying that God will give you great strength and wisdom, and will give you a “megaphone” to speak Shalom to us all.

Honestly, this touched me deeply me when I read it and yet I heard the breath of the Spirit in it as well. At the time I got it I was in Dallas to see if God was bringing together a team to write a book about peacemaking across the significant differences that divide our culture. (See picture above and video below.) So the timing wasn’t lost on me, and I shared it with the team knowing this was also for them. We don’t need Someone speaking a calming message, but many someones!  I have also been amazed by the number of people I heard from who want to learn this as well and be a voice in their own community. I may have to do a retreat some day to help others carry this passion as well. Jesus did give us the ministry of reconciliation after all.

I’ve spent the day today in another city in Texas to help a university deal with an issue that is dividing their community. I’m amazed at how easy it is to slide into this part of my life again. It’s really weird.  Because when I look from a distance all this seems overwhelming. When I actually sit down with people I have a clarity of sight that gets some wonderful responses, and I come away with new insights I’d never contemplated before.  The pathway is uncertain, but my Companion on it is not. And your prayers and encouragement do comfort and inspire me.

Now, back to the book. I’m pretty sure all three of us who came together in Dallas were blown away by our time these past three days. Our hearts were in sync and the lessons God has taught each of us in our journeys are so similar, even though our circumstances have been so different.  We found ourselves making points for each other as if we’d been through all of this before. Weird. I was with Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor, both of whom have some incredible stories of God’s work in their lives and carry a passion for encouraging people to reach across their comfort zones to speak words of peace in the earth. The project we outlined went far better than I could have hoped. This seems to have the breath of his Spirit upon it.  Though, of course, that remains to be seen.

I know a lot of people can’t imagine how you bring three people together and start to write a book, so here’s small sample to give you the flavor of our time together:

Now t I start my flight home. My first flight is already late, but fortunately I have lots of space before my second flight out of DFW.