Behind the Scenes

He Loves Me – Chapters 2 and 3

Don’t let the demands of legalistic Christianity blind you to the incredible friendship that a Loving Father and his Son want to have with you.

The friendship Jesus shared with his disciples was the model for the relationship he extends to you. He wants to be the voice that steers you through every situation, the peace that sets your troubled heart at rest, and the power that holds you up in the storm. He wants to be closer than your dearest friend and more faithful than any other person you’ve ever known.

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

It would be so if this were not his idea. He’s the one who offered to be your loving Father- sharing life with you in ways no earthly father ever could.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of He Loves Me

The next meeting of the He Loves Me Book Discussion will be this Saturday, September 9, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. We will be covering Chapters 2 and 3. Bring your questions and observations…
You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link.  The conversations are held and recorded on Zoom.
I am sorry that this is not a convenient time for those in Asia and Australia, but so far, we’ve had only one interested person from that part of the world. If there are more, please let me know, and we will hold a different conversation for that part of the world. 
If you can’t join us for the discussion, catch the conversation on the Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook. You can see a replay of our conversation about the Introduction and Chapter 1 here. 
Our RV Tour will take us to Golden Colorado next week if you’d like to join us for a Monday night evening conversation on September 11. You can find details here.

He Loves Me – Chapters 2 and 3 Read More »

The Roads We Go Down

The ground Sara and I have traversed this year is extraordinarily beautiful, and I mean that in multiple ways. Not only are we learning more about Sara’s trauma and what freedom looks like for her, but we are also seeing things about God’s heart and freedom for lost hearts that are rocking our world. Some of it moves us even further outside the lines of the institutionalized Christianity we grew up in, but the depth of it seems far truer to scripture than the distorted interpretations performance-based Christianity gave us.

We’ve been sharing all that on the God Journey. We’ve talked about holding the agony and ecstasy of God for the pain and redemption of the world, how God’s view of sin may be very different from ours, and how redemption can make a way through the greatest cruelties in life. Following Jesus today is not easy, especially when the religious powers that be question your motives, dismiss what you’re learning about Jesus, or falsely accuse you to marginalize you. Jesus said we are blessed when people “insult you, lie about you, and exclude you because of him,” though we rarely feel blessed in such moments.

I got this email the other day from someone who has been listening—

I couldn’t believe it when you started this conversation.  For the past 15+ years that I have been listening to The God Journey, you have confirmed so many thoughts that I have had that would get me a reprimand from normal ‘church people.’   This week’s conversation with Sarah was more of that.”

A year ago, Sara and I took our Return to Innocence Tour from California to Virginia and back.  Since then, we’ve been finding and fixing up a home. We are just getting it to the point where we can enjoy it but sense that breath of the Spirit inviting us on yet another trip, this time into the heartland of the U.S.  So, next week, we’ll be leaving on another RV trip to enjoy time together as well as to see who Father might want to put in our path.

Last year, we talked a lot about our trauma story as we helped others with theirs. We will still do that anywhere on our journey where it would be helpful, but I think we’re going to call this our Swimming Upstream Tour. As beautiful as this journey is in learning to live loved, there is also a toll it takes on us, often from well-meaning family and friends who hold a more legalistic view of God. Knowing you’re not alone in that can be incredibly helpful.

We are looking to encourage some weary hearts on this journey and see what God is revealing to his children, especially those who are learning to live loved in a hostile world. The above map with approximate dates will give you an idea of where we are going to go on this trip. We already have some events planned in Wichita, Little Rock, and Austin, but we’re open to other opportunities that might bring people together or connect in other ways that may be helpful to you—grabbing a meal with us by the side of the road, going for an early morning walk, or sitting with us by a campfire to share this magnificent journey of following Jesus against the grain of religious sensibilities. As opportunities are updated, we’ll include that information on our Travel Schedule at Lifestream.org and on my Facebook Author Page.

So, if you are along our route somewhere and would like to hang out somewhere, please email me to see what we might be able to arrange. We can’t promise to do everything we are asked, and our schedule is going to be flexible, given how we are traveling, but we’ll pray alongside you and see what might be on Jesus’s heart. Don’t be bashful; often, the best connections come when people are a bit reticent to ask.

The Roads We Go Down Read More »

Finally Home

He is finally home.

If you’ve read my books and listened to the podcast, you know the impact my dad had on my life and faith. Last Saturday morning, at 98 years of age, my dad passed from life in this age to life in the full-on splendor of Jesus,  something he has been longing for as he has outlived almost everyone from his generation. I’m so grateful he no longer suffers from his declining health and is now at rest in the love of Jesus and reunited with his wife, his eldest son, and others from his nearly century-long journey.

The damage a dysfunctional family can do to a young life is incredible. I deal with many people who grew up in families filled with anger, abuse, or an absence of love. I am not among them. I grew up in a family where Mom and Dad loved each other and their four boys. We had lots of friends and enjoyed hosting parties at the ranch. My life was filled with laughter, support, and the example of growing faith in Jesus. For that, I will always be grateful.

Dad with our newest dog Zoey in 2016

I’ve often said that my dad was not only the father of my flesh but also my faith. I learned so much from him and had so many illuminating conversations with a man I will always admire and appreciate. My dad was many things—a World War II vet, wounded on the front in the north of France, the owner of a vineyard who sun-dried grapes into raisins, a compassionate husband, a rock-steady father to four boys, a scoutmaster, a congregational leader (multiple times), house church facilitator, and most of all a passionate follower of Jesus. He gave his life away to any who sought his help and wisdom and touched many with both. I get emails regularly from people that were enriched because they knew him.

He was a nominal Baptist in my younger days, but in the early 1960s, he decided to find out if God was real or give up playing the religious game. That sent him on a lifelong journey of deepening faith and service to others. I served with him on an eldering team once, and one of my friends from that team perhaps summed up his life best. “He doesn’t talk much, but you have got to listen when he does.”

Here are a few of the things I consider a legacy from my relationship with my dad, even more by his example of life than his words:

  • Follow Jesus no matter what, even when it costs you relationships you value or when others gossip about you to discredit you.
  • God is big enough to walk you through anything, no matter how dire it might look. He said that to me in my youth, watching one of his raisin crops destroyed by a deluge of rain. The money he would have received for that harvest was his sole source of income, and yet God took care of us anyway.
  • Be generous with others; you are part of a larger community than just your needs or desires.
  • Keep your heart grounded in the Scriptures, which can be a constant source of encouragement and wisdom.
  • Truth matters. If you let your fears steer you into believing a lie, it will destroy even the most precious relationships replacing love and affection with anger and hate.

For those that didn’t know my dad, I wrote two tributes to my relationship with him back in 2004 when my son and I took him to Washington, DC, for the first time in his life. We were there to attend the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the Mall and enjoy the sights of the city. It was the trip of a lifetime that I will always cherish with both of them. We laughed hard and celebrated with gratefulness my dad’s service to his country. You can read those blogs here:

In 2012, I interviewed my dad on The God Journey in an episode called A Journey of Growing Trust.

Having completed his journey here, he is now on to the most significant part of our human experience—where perfect love reigns, and relationships never die. I would love to know what he knows now. We look through a glass darkly, but one day we will be face to face with Jesus, as he is today. I can’t wait to sit down with him again and see our journeys in the full light of his glory.

Thank you, Dad, for being a part of my life as long as you could. Thanks for all the wisdom and character you imparted to me over nearly seven decades. Thanks for loving my family and helping us in so many ways. And thanks for enriching so many other lives as you traversed this temporal land.

A friend sent me a prayer this weekend that on the day I die, Jesus would send my dad to get me or at least come with him. I don’t know if God answers such prayers, but I know we will sit down for a long talk again someday. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that.

One of my last walks with Dad in 2021 at Shaver Lake

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Shocked Again at Father’s Timing

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

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

Dr. Clyde Kilby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shocked Again at Father’s Timing Read More »

Life Under the Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clouds and fog play with the mountains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finding Our Connection with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some other items of interest:

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

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

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

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

Finding Our Connection with God Read More »

Want to Get Together?

Here are a few opportunities to hang out with me if you’d like. Two happen next week, one is just a podcast, and the other is in February 2024 in Israel:

The Jake Colsen Book Club

Learning to follow Jesus as he reveals himself in each of us is the adventure of spiritual life.  Institutions are afraid to encourage that pursuit since it may not fit in easily to their preplanned activities.  One of the strangest things about Christianity is that we have invested all of our chips for helping people follow Jesus in religious institutions that can transfer information while rarely transforming lives.

That comes up in the penultimate chapter of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore as the conversation explores how best do we help people to learn how they can follow Jesus.

Highly orchestrated experiences cannot show people how to live each day in him through the real struggles of life. That’s one of the strangest things about Christianity locking itself into an institutional box. Who would choose to be raised in an orphanage? Our hearts hunger for family. That’s where children learn who they are and how they fit into the world.

This congregation is like an orphanage revolving around the convenience of the whole. You survive best in it by following its rules, but that’s not how Jesus connects you with his Father. For that, you need a family—brothers and sisters who can respond to you in the moment, not wait for a meeting or to schedule a seminar.

That’s a key topic in our next gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club, which will be held next Saturday, April 22, at 1:30 pm PDT. Anyone is welcome to join us, even if it’s your first time. We will also stream it live on my Facebook Author Page, but if you want to be part of the conversation, you can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it.

You can view our last discussion on chapter 11 here.

Trauma Conversation – Good Riddance

Our next Wrestling with Trauma conversation will meet next Sunday, April 23, at 10:30 am PDT.  Among other things, we’re going to explore what it means to let go of the hurtful things that have happened to us and the process God uses to help us find out how. Sara shared that in a recent podcast if you haven’t heard it.

If you’d like to join us, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link. These are not teaching sessions but a conversation to serve those who join us and help encourage them to the Way Jesus wants to lead them through the pain of trauma into his increasing freedom. These conversations are not streamed live or recorded. They are for the personal benefit of those who can join us. You can even join in anonymously if you prefer.

Israel

We’re about 60% full for our upcoming trip to Israel, so please get signed up as soon as you can if you want to join us. The last day to register is May 31, but that’s only if we still have space left. We’ll be going February 1-11, 2024, with an optional visit to Jordan on the way in for those who would like to extend the tour and spend a day at Petra.

MiDentity Podcast

And if you can’t do any of that and haven’t heard my conversation with Daron Maughan over at the MiDentity Podcast, you can listen here.  It aired this week and is a good summary of our story over the last year if you haven’t listened to the podcasts Sara and I recorded last year.

 

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One Year Ago Today

On April 11, one year ago, I spent most of the day flying home from a ten-day trip around the Carolinas, looking forward to being in Sara’s arms again. I hadn’t the foggiest notion that I was about to drive off a cliff at 180 miles per hour.

My first indication that all was not well was a cryptic text I received when I landed at LAX that Sara would be unable to pick me up. She had arranged for a driver to bring me home, something she had never done before. I tried to call or text to find out what was wrong and got no reply. That’s when the knot first formed in the pit of my stomach. After an hour’s ride home, I had concluded that she must have left me, but I had no idea why. Our marriage seemed to be going well as we approached our 47th wedding anniversary.

When I got home, she was gone, all her stuff was gone, and I was left with the most painful of all letters telling me she was divorcing me. The next three weeks were filled with heart-wrenching pain, not only for my loss but also for whatever Sara was going through. I re-examined everything I thought I knew about myself and our relationship. If Sara’s letter had been true, our 46 years together would have been a lie. I know I haven’t been a perfect human or husband, so there’s always stuff to probe inside.

Slowly, however, we began to find our way back to each other, and the truth unfolded. Sara had been experiencing PTSD, and a therapist she saw assumed I was the cause without ever consulting with me and even though Sara’s symptoms were present in her childhood. She coached Sara into moving out when I was completely unaware of her plans, as one does to escape an abusive husband. My wife was in trouble, but it wasn’t from me. I knew there was something darker in her life and prayed earnestly for her during the days of our separation. As much as I hated the pain of those days, I love what Father did in my heart through them. Unmerited rejection by someone you love is fertile ground for his Spirit to rearrange things in your own heart if you let him. He prepared me to be an active part of the healing Jesus wanted to bring to her as he brought her back.

Sara began to question and regret her decision since I was not acting the way her therapist said I would. That proved pivotal. After all she had done to leave me, she was willing to look back and consider that she might have gotten bad counsel. I’ll forever be grateful that she was willing to open her heart again to me and let me inside her struggle. We began to spend some time together and began processing the PTSD she had been hiding from me. Finding a new, wiser therapist, Sara began to discover that she had been assaulted by her grandfather from the ages of 4-9. She had complete amnesia about it until those memories started to surface. It explained so much about things my wife has struggled with for decades.

For the past year, we have shared a healing journey into the dark recesses of Sara’s past with an exceptional amount of grace that has drawn us closer together than ever as it has renewed her heart and healed her mind. I have been with her in every recovered memory, and each one expands so much insight into Sara and helps her find freedom for how this trauma affected her for so many years though she never knew the cause. She lives with more joy now than she ever has. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D could be a history of her journey. One in three women in her generation was sexually assaulted by age 18. Sara never thought she was one until it all bubbled to the surface like a volcano in the last few years. She kept it hidden from me because it made no sense why she felt so horrible about herself. Now she has discovered that she was not a horrible person but that someone had done something horrible to her.

She knows the truth and has processed it into her story. I have not shared much about this on my blog here though Sara and I have on my podcast at The God Journey. We still meet friends who have no idea what our journey has looked like over the last year. If you haven’t heard Sara and I tell this story as it unfolded, you can listen to these podcasts:

This past weekend we were able to celebrate not only the Resurrection of Jesus but also our resurrected life together. As Sara continues to understand her past better, she’s becoming increasingly free to live in the present with a lighter heart and a clearer eye. Our mourning has definitely turned into laughter, and joy now earmarks our life together. What have we learned from this past year?

  1. You can never truly know what’s just around the corner.
  2. Without Jesus to guide us through this shocking time, we would not be together today.
  3. Tenderness and honesty mark the trailhead where healing happens. Being willing to admit our failures and doubts while affirming our love helped us recapture our relationship and move it forward into a more glorious space.
  4. Admitting when you’re wrong and expressing your sorrow about it repairs damaged relationships.
  5. Being willing to stop and shift everything, and I mean everything, allowed us to find new pathways together that we treasure today.
  6. Having people honestly and caringly speak into your heart is invaluable. We were blessed to have many people hold our hearts during this season, and we are grateful to each of them.
  7. Holding someone while they heal from trauma is one of the most amazing things any human can do.

Given that last one, our hearts ache for those of you who have been impacted by trauma in your own life, whether it be something you suffered at the hands of someone else or you’ve been affected by the traumatic struggle of someone you love deeply, perhaps even your spouse. That’s why Sara has wanted to share this story so publicly, not to seek sympathy for our pain but to offer hope and help to those wrestling with similar darkness in their own journey. We know how alone you can feel and how hopeless the future might look. But God is a healer. He came to bind up the brokenhearted and set the oppressed free. We pray that you will let him draw you into your own healing as we look for ways to encourage and help those impacted by trauma.

So, this anniversary today is not a painful day! It’s a joy-filled one. We remember well the feelings of a year ago, but now they are markers for a turn in the road that drew us into more freedom than we knew we needed.

_________________

One more note:  Yesterday, a podcast dropped that I taped a couple of weeks ago. I was with Daron Maughon on his MiDentity Podcast if you want to give it a listen.  

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Next Year in Jerusalem

Two months ago, to my complete shock, Sara said, “I wonder what it would be like to visit Israel again with the work God has done in my heart.”

“Do you want me to take you there?” I asked. She nodded. “Just us, or do you want to invite some others to go with us?”

“Let’s do another tour,” she said.

I never saw it coming. I had planned another trip for 2021 when COVID intervened, and we had to cancel it. So, this is Sara’s tour of Israel, and you’re invited to join us. We’ll be going February 1-11, 2024, with an optional visit to Jordan on the way in for those who would like to extend the tour and spend a day at Petra.

If you’ve never been to Israel, you have no idea what it means to—

  • To look out across the Sea of Galilee and contemplate all that happened there.
  • To stand on Mt. Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, and where you also overlook the Jezreel Valley.
  • To reflect alongside 2000-year-old olive trees in Gethsemane,
  • To wander through the city where God chose to reveal himself to the world and accomplish the redemption of humanity.

Those things profoundly touched my life in the three trips I’ve taken there as it has for others who have gone with me. I felt the earth where Jesus walked. I saw first-hand the sky, hills, valleys, and waters where he lived. This was his earthly home! At key locations, I’ll be sharing the insights from that land that most shaped my journey of growing trust in Jesus to help you process your own journey of growing faith.

In addition, you have no idea the amazing people you will meet from all over the world who cherish some of the same realities about God and his love that you do. Many have come away from past trips with new, life-long friendships that take root over the ten days we will spend together at the table, on the bus, or walking together through the most significant locations in redemptive history.

We are going in February since the weather is cooler in these desert locations. We can also take a smaller group more affordably at that time and not have to battle the crowds at the sights we will visit.

We still have spots available if you want to join Sara and me for this tour. Get all the details here.

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The Jake Colsen Book Club – Chapter 11

Taking flight is a triumphant chapter in So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. After the long process of poking holes in Jake’s illusions about God and what it means to follow him, Jake is finally finding his footing on a better trailhead as he begins to learn how to live out a life in Jesus free from guilt and personal performance.

Here’s a brief excerpt from that chapter:

Jake speaks, “As I read the life of Jesus now, I see more clearly that’s what he was doing-freeing people from shame so that they could embrace his Father. And I’m seeing that with increasing freedom in my own life too. That’s probably the greatest gift you’ve given me, John. I no longer labor under the oppressive guilt of how short I fall nor under the demanding obligations of self-produced righteousness. And I’m no longer putting that on others.”

“That’s fabulous,” John smiles.

“I never realized how much of what I thought was ministry was only manipulating people’s shame—whether it was to make them feel guilty for falling short or to earn other people’s approval.”

“That’s what religion is, Jake. It’s a shame-management system, often with the best of intentions and always with the worst of results.”

This is a great moment in someone’s journey when the gravity of human effort and guilt loses its hold, and the pull of his love and power takes over. At that moment, everything changes, and we look with new eyes at the trail Jesus has laid out for us. Yes, we still have struggles, but we are changed in the process. I’ve treasured this change in my own life and have watched it happen in so many people. It’s brutal to watch people labor under the burden and arrogance of religious performance, thinking that by doing so they curry God’s favor. His love is all we need to transform us with his glory as he invites us on the adventure of following him.

We’ll be talking about that this weekend for the next gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club, which will be held this Sunday, April 2, at 1:30 pm PDT. For our international participants, the U.S. has moved our clocks ahead one hour to daylight savings time, so you may need to recalculate what time it is where you live. Lots of websites will help you sort that out. Anyone is welcome to join us, even if it’s your first time. We will also stream it live on my Facebook Author Page, but if you want to be part of the conversation, you can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it.

You can view our last discussion on chapter 10 here.

 

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