Uncategorized

Heading Home

This. Has. Been. So. Much. Fun.

The return to innocence tour has been an absolute delight on a personal level. It has given me extended time with Sara and our dogs, the healing that keeps flowing from Father’s heart, and the fantastic conversations and friendships Jesus keeps letting us explore. We are both so grateful for this trip in this season of our lives and how his glory just keeps unfolding each day. However, it is time to move more deliberately westward and get home before the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s the plan, anyway.

What a joyful trip we had to Atlanta yesterday, through the peak foliage between Chattanooga and Atlanta, topped off with our gathering that afternoon. It was so good to catch up with people caring for the people of Ukraine or taking some children from troubled homes into their own. Rich conversation, great laughs, and wonderful encouragement filled our day.

Now we’re in Chattanooga for two more days before heading to Nashville for November 2-4. If you want to join us there, there’s a Wednesday night gathering, write me for details.

After that, we may head to Paducah, KY, on Saturday, November 5, and then on to Mountain Home, Arkansas, on November 6 and 7.

We’re not clear exactly where we are going from there. We may go to Branson for a night or two, but we’re also sorting out where it might be best to gather in the area where NW Arkansas, NE Oklahoma, SW Kansas, and SE Missouri all converge. We’ve had a lot of contacts from that region. We can’t stay long, so we’re looking for places that others can get to easily since all of this will mostly be during the week of November 7-11. If you have any ideas that can help us sort that out, please write me.

Eight months ago, neither of us would have conceived of this trip or what the last three months have held for us. I guess that’s why he asked us to follow him, not make plans and ask him to bless them. That’s probably been the most recurring lesson of my spiritual journey. I’ve always done lots of planning, hoping and praying God would use it. Learning to live in God’s unfolding plans has been quite a journey.

Somehow I thought that I had the excellent ideas God needed to get his work done in the world, and I’m sure I carelessly walked by some more amazing trails he was inviting me down if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with my planning. Now, we are seeing more of those roads and enjoying them immensely.

Father has already purposed everything he wants to accomplish in Christ in this broken Creation. He just invites us to come alongside him and be part of his fantastic work. Now, I do far less planning, even on this trip, and yet watch the amazing opportunities he unfolds without my needing to have it planned weeks in advance.

It all seems so simple now, perhaps too simple for those of us who wanted to do things for him (as ineffective as they might be) rather than with him.

 

 

Heading Home Read More »

Moving On

This week we will be working our way through Michigan. That’s the team up top on an early morning walk to the Peninsula Lighthouse near Rapid River. It’s been glorious here with the people we’ve spent time with and some new folks we met. Also, Sara and I were the only ones in the RV Park we’ve had for the last two days. In the woods, all by ourselves. It was great!

Today we’ll move to Mackinaw City and the day after to Traverse City. Everything is going well for the RV, for which we are grateful. The problems have been sorted out.

The itinerary we’re looking at now looks something like this:

  • September 21-22: Traverse City
  • September 23-27: We’ll be in southern Michigan and hanging out with folks near Grand Rapids, perhaps Kalamazoo, and on Sunday/Monday be in South Bend, IN with Gil Michel and his fellowship
  • September 28-30:  Indianapolis, Indiana
  • October 1-2ish: Columbus, OH area
  • October 3ish-10: Big Prairie, OH, with Harvey, Monica, & Company

Beyond that, we have no idea yet if we’ll head down the Blue Ridge or turn back toward Kentucky and Tennessee.  We’re learning to live in the spontaneity of every day and see what Father shows us. If you’re interested in connecting with us in some of these areas, please write me and see what we can work out either with our hosts or with a personal opportunity to chat or go for a walk together.

This is really a treat, getting to tour the U. S. with a renewing Sara, to enjoy not only the beauty of the landscape we journey through but also the connections Father is giving us along the way.  We had some amazing conversations with people this weekend, and one of the great things that came out of our time yesterday is helping people normalize their Jesus journey.

So many people have expectations of how God should speak to them or what a quiet time should look like every day that they can easily miss the gentle and subtle ways God invites them into his reality each day or the gifts he is giving to them even through very difficult circumstances.

I love that word, normalize. When we stop looking for things as we think they should be, then we can see God as he is making himself known.  Recognizing that will help you find an easy freedom in him.

As one woman said to me years ago in New Zealand, “I’m beginning to believe that the reason this journey seems so difficult is because it is far simpler than we dare to believe.”

That it is. We make it too complicated, and Jesus is inviting us into a simple, powerful, transformative relationship in our growing confidence that we are deeply loved and that he is closer to us than our very breath.

Moving On Read More »

When Something Horrible Comes Your Way

Over the past sixteen days, we have traveled almost 2908 miles from Thousand Oaks, CA, to Duluth, MN, and we are having a wonderful trip. We’ve moved from 100 degree days in Wyoming and Denver, to waking up to a 40-degree morning.

Sara and I are having the most wonderful conversations with each other and others along the way who are on a journey to find their freedom in Christ. Sara’s continuing journey through trauma has encouraged many people and opened doors for people to discuss their own places of brokenness and how Jesus might want to bring healing to them.

After Duluth, we are headed to Minocqua, WI, Escanaba, MI, Traverse City, MI, and then to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and South Bend, IN. This trip is still unfolding, but it has become a treasured adventure for Sara, me, and our two dogs. We’ve had our share of RV issues but have managed to resolve them all so far and enjoy our tiny home on wheels.

In the aftermath of the Redeeming Love podcast series, I received this email. I’m sure it will touch many others because Sara and I have heard it expressed by many people. Just because something horrible happens to you doesn’t make you horrible, no matter how deep your feelings.

I was reminded of that recently in an email I hope encourages many others who harbor hidden thoughts of being horrible, shameful, or unworthy of love for any reason;

Thank you for sharing so boldly and honestly about what you have been through recently. I have cried with you and rejoiced with you.  My husband and I, who have listened to all seven podcasts together, have nodded in recognition as we recognize the same patterns in our lives. Thank you for your honesty and openness, Sara, in an area I know all too well.  Hearing you makes me understand myself better.

Wayne, you stayed in our home during a visit to Europe a few years ago. I had intended to write to you to tell you about something that changed in me after your visit. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now. I believe it was God’s plan all along. You probably don’t remember it, but I blurted something out during breakfast on Sunday morning.  Something I don’t usually share. I told you that I thought I was evil.

For some reason, you started talking about the processes we go through when we build trust in God. Those spaces we trust him create safe spaces so God can expand those spaces. I remember you made a circle with your hand as you explained. For some reason, this conversation turned something inside of me.

After our conversation, I could no longer believe my thoughts about my being evil. The thought, or the lie, had been a part of me for as long as I could remember.  All my actions acted out of that awareness, so when that thought became absurd and even incomprehensible, it actually caused me some uneasiness.

Although I think it is an enormous freedom, and I see that it has opened me up to let both God and people approach me more vulnerably, I have struggled to understand it.  And since I did not understand, I became anxious that I was in self-denial and in opposition to the truth—that the truth was that I was still evil, but that now I could no longer accept that truth. It made me feel like I had lost control.

Hearing you, Sara, tell that you thought you were a horrible person, and the explanation you got about this, was so good for me to hear as well. It is so liberating to understand that it is the evil deeds that were done to me as a child, that created a thought in me that I was evil and not the other way around.

I just wanted to let you know how meaningful your visit has been to me, Wayne, and how good it is to put into words and understand myself better after listening to Sara, you, and Kyle.

I could write you several pages about things that have been enlightening and good for me, but I hope this little testimony will encourage you as you have encouraged me.

That it did. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and how some comments from me helped shape a new trajectory in your life. Sara and I have had this conversation with many others in the last few months.

Something horrible or evil might have happened to you, but that doesn’t make you horrible or evil. Somehow the brain often defines the people by their trauma, especially in young children. I don’t know if that’s the brain on its own or the enemy gets a hand in there, too, but it’s cruel for the victim of abuse to go away from the incident thinking they are bad. It increases the trauma and smears their future.

I get it. The person abusing them has some delight in it, and especially when children are too young to realize what is going on. They have to think they are the problem, not that something horrible is being done to them.

When trauma surfaces, remind yourself that whatever happened to you is in the past and it’s not happening to you now. Don’t let the brokenness of another person define who you are. This is where a conversation between you and Jesus can be really helpful—a conversation that may last for months or years.

We’re talking a lot about restored innocence on this tour, something foreign to many people. After all, shouldn’t we know better? Haven’t we done things we knew were out-of-bounds to God? How can we be innocent when we struggle and fail with sin or trauma?

That’s the miracle of the cross. We are washed, cleansed, and made new by his work so that each morning we wake up in the innocence he gives us, and we can learn to live in that innocence every day. Thus, we can come to God in confidence that we are deeply loved, that he sees us not as damaged goods or co-conspirators in sin, but beloved children who are harassed and helpless against the chaos of a broken creation.

To the Father, you are his beloved child that he wants to redeem for your freedom and joy. Trauma and sin don’t make you less loveable to him but even more endearing. Don’t believe the lie that exempts you from his love and care. It is Father’s greatest desire to rescue you from whatever calamity has befallen you and establish you before him as an innocent, beloved child.

No matter who tells you otherwise, even yourself, consider his words:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end-
Because I am GOD, your personal God
I paid a huge price for you .
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
“So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.”
(Isaiah 43:1-5 The Message)

When Something Horrible Comes Your Way Read More »

Allowing My Past to Catch up to Me

On last week’s podcast and today’s at The God Journey, Kyle and I talk about dealing with the long-term effects of unresolved childhood trauma. On my recent trip to North Carolina, a good friend of mine, Dana Andrechyn, shared with me a poem she wrote that captures so well what it is like to run from the pain of the past and then finally find just the right time and space for Jesus to bring healing to your broken heart.

I love this poem. We talk about it more on today’s podcast. I also wanted to print it here for those that wanted a copy.

Allowing My Past to Catch Up to Me

To be out on the open water at sunset
facing backward, shore fading
like the past that I left behind,
we set our present course
into the beauty of the end of the day…
Our speed is slow and gentle enough
to allow my past to catch up to me
its drama unfolding as if it were yesterday—
and instead of looking away, I fixed my gaze there.
(for so long I have just wanted to leave it buried.
but the grave can’t hold living things.)
Set in the midst of the beauty of the setting sun,
and its safe embrace, a softness rises in me
laced with tears, washing my face, my soul
as I remembered the girl I left behind so long ago.
Left her standing there, hands full
of hunger, ache, resentment, shame, loneliness—
hidden from all eyes, especially mine.
To forget her would heal me, I thought,
but the neglect of my own little soul was
just another arrow of abandonment,
piercing my present and my hunger.
But here, now, in this beauty I scoop her up
onto the seat next to me—wrapping my arms around her,
giving her the gift of her voice—her pain, her anger, her tears.
Feeling her youth and the shattering of her innocence.
Remembering how we had to survive by fortressing,
with grit and hardness—armoring up.
We were never thrown a life-line
as we tried to keep our head above water
as best we could.
Today, I pulled her out of those waters
into the lap of my soul and I mothered her.
Saw her. Held her. Held me.
Disarmed.

Dana Andrechyn, July 2020

© Copyright 2022 by Dana Andrechyn.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Allowing My Past to Catch up to Me Read More »

He’s Got This!

I’m going to let Hilda write my blog today. I received this email from her a few days ago:

I really enjoyed the Urban Mystic podcast you were on. So much of what you said made me sit back quietly and ponder on the ideas. One of those things was “God being on the other side of my brokenness.” It resonates so well with me as this realization is what also changed my life.

I love how Jesus grabbed Peter “at once” when he started to sink. (Matthew 14:31). The accuser’s voice always demands that I reach “perfection” first before receiving God’s approval. What a paradigm shift it is when you realize “He’s got me,” and loves me first. The accuser’s voice does not equal God’s voice.

Thank you for continuously sharing with us your journey with a loving Father. So many times, your voice has helped me to fight the accuser’s voice in some dark moments. I believe this is God’s work and I also know that your sharing words contribute to God’s glory in my life.

The reality of having a performance-driven first part of my life is that I so often find myself a few steps ahead of prayer and ultimately out of sync with Jesus. More than once, I’ve found myself chasing after my well-trained, self-reliant tactics. But, Jesus settled me once again and His words in John 15:5 take on an eternal life-giving meaning: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

When I live in that space of confidence—that God is working through the painful circumstances of my life—I live more at rest than when anxiety takes over, and I think I have to “do something” to fix things. I love coming back to that place of recognizing how powerless I am without him, and though he doesn’t always do things the way I want, he has a plan that will work all things for his good and purpose, which will also be to my ultimate blessing.

He’s got this!  It may not look like it. Everything in you might be raging with fear, but he is already on the other side of your pain, inviting you into his rest and joy.

__________________

By the way, the Urban Mystic podcast mentioned above is one of the best interviews I’ve ever been part of because of the depth of the questions being asked by my two South African hosts.  It allowed me to unpack my journey in a way I’ve never done before, especially how God continued to draw me into the reality of his revelations at crucial points in my journey. If you haven’t heard it yet, you might want to listen to it.

 

 

He’s Got This! Read More »

A Miracle of the Father’s Provision

At the end of last week, I got a painful email from our friends in Kenya, reporting on the progress of the 300 children who had been abandoned by parents and other relatives on the doorstep of a school they operate in Forkland to help children who would not get an education otherwise.

This is the same school we helped a couple of years ago to drill a new well when their cistern was contaminated, hitting a deep aquifer that provides a bottled water enterprise that has helped them continue to operate. Six months ago, the government required them to buy more land because they had too many children in the school for the size of their facility, and there was available acreage nearby. Due to your generosity, we were able to provide for that purchase.

Last week, officials from Kenya’s health ministry visited after hearing about the kids camped there. There was great concern about so many children sleeping in classrooms. The officer’s advice to their management was, “If God can open a door, you have the land to put up dorms that can divide the children by age.” They are so congested in the school classrooms that there’s a great danger of disease.

Michael, our contact there, wrote, “I believe God may use the Forkland Village orphans to help our government see what is happening to our children.” While they were so thankful for those who supported this community to help run clean water free of charge to help thousands across the community, they also told us that while Forkland had been the leading community for rates of diseases in that region, since they put in the new well, no disease had been reported.”

So, they began to develop a plan for their extra land to include dormitories and a dining hall.

This is what they asked of us:

  1. Drilling a new well in Bungoma
  2. Monthly food budge
  3. Yearly school support for primary kids
  4. Four Dormitories
  5. Dining hall
  6. Kitchen and food store

Total approximately budget: $130,255

I’ll be honest, upon hearing the need, I was overwhelmed. I was already in the middle of a shocking tragedy at home when I returned from my recent trip to the Carolinas. I have decided to take a few weeks away from my regular schedule and responsibilities to give attention to some critical concerns at home. I told God I just couldn’t take this on, not now. “Would you provide for them with as little help as possible for me?”

But these are orphans, right? Abandoned in the world and in desperate need, how could we not be involved? I asked God again to provide a way without me. Two days later, Sara mentioned a friend of ours who has been incredibly helpful in Kenya before. So, I wrote him and shared this new need to see if he could perhaps pick up half the cost.

I heard back the next morning. Not knowing anything of my personal struggle, he and his wife said they wanted to cover the cost of the entire project. They transferred funds that day into our account and we quickly sent them to Kenya.

I called him up and told him how loved I felt by God in the midst of all that was swirling around me. So, this is not an appeal for funds; it’s a celebration of the Lord’s provision for these young children. I’m sure there will be further needs ahead, and I’m grateful for those of you who continue to give, large gifts and small, to help people who are starving on the far side of the world. And people have helped us from all over—Europe, Africa, Australia, joining those in North America.

So grateful. So, so grateful.

Of course, the need won’t end there. So, if any of you want to help with the continuing needs in Kenya, we are still collecting money to send their way. As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer feesPlease see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to @LifestreamMinistries or 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.

A Miracle of the Father’s Provision Read More »

Can Institutions Be Redemptive?

I got this email from a young seminarian who feels called to work within the Methodist church, even beyond the split many anticipate in the next few months. I’m sure others of you would be interested in this exchange:

One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is because of your view concerning institutions and the challenges they pose in faithfully advancing the life of Christ in the earth.  I am studying for an M.Div. degree at United Theological Seminary, a United Methodist school.  As you probably know, the United Methodists are not exactly united, and are anticipating a split at next year’s General Conference.   After that, there will be a new denomination, the Global Methodist Church, composed of the congregations that make up the traditionalist wing of the denomination.  This is a minority of the Methodist congregations in the United States.  But it is the vast majority of the churches in South America, Asia, and Africa.  I anticipate being ordained in that denomination.

Initially, I was excited about the formation of a movement that could take the powerful legacy of John Wesley and early Methodism and bring it forward into the context of the 21st century.  However, after observing the ongoing hostility between the various wings of the existing UMC, and the role that politics plays among much of the leadership, I am aware of the possibility that we are going to just end up with another conservative evangelical denomination that is unable to fully shine forth the love of Jesus to a world that is in desperate need of it.

However, I feel called to be where I am, and God has me in the Methodist church for a purpose.  So I’d like to ask you, do you have any hope that large institutions can be redemptive? Is it possible that they can make the need for their own survival secondary to the work of the Gospel? I realize that there is a lot of evidence that would say that the answer to that question is “No.  Once an institution is created, its primary concern is to protect and advance its institutional existence.”  But if they cannot be used fully by Christ, are all of our current denominations and formal ministry networks doomed to failure?  If we cannot create Christ-filled institutions, how do we create large scale works to advance the Kingdom?  Christian schools and colleges, afterschool programs, day care centers, medical clinics, etc. would all seem to require a consolidation of people and resources into a formal organization to implement and sustain their functions.  How do we proceed to enter into large-scale societal challenges otherwise?  I am curious what your thoughts are concerning this.

In short, I don’t believe “institutions can be redemptive.” Jesus didn’t invest the reality of his kingdom in an institution but in people who can incarnate God’slove and life for others to see. Institutions aren’t inherently Christian or nonChristian. They are simply structures that can provide an environment in which the kingdom might flourish in people’s hearts, or it can hinder that work. An institution’s priorities are to perpetuate itself, and in time that will inevitably conflict with the priorities of his kingdom. Almost all of them eventually succumb to the delusions of power, wealth, and self-survival, which causes the impact of the kingdom to diminish. You cannot put the bride in a box and hope the box will reflect her glory.

Remember, John Wesley didn’t start Methodism. It was just him on a horse and the people God had given him to touch, encourage, and disciple. He kept his class meetings all inside the Anglican Church, believing that if his work ever became its own institution, that’s when it would begin to die. Institutions, of necessity, are concerned about temporal affairs, which quickly supplant more eternal concerns. The kingdom cannot be contained in an institution because the priorities of an institution and the priorities of Jesus’kingdom are opposites.

That doesn’t mean institutions can’t be helpful to the kingdom. They can offer connections, opportunities for cooperation, and places for people to gather. How well it represents Jesus, however, has to do with the character and passion of those involved. If enough of them have a heart for God and his kingdom, they can provide a useful structure.  But that mostly goes in cycles, doesn’t it?  For a time, it might be terrific, then other people come in who want to fight over power or money or policies, and the character of Christ is soon lost. Then others might come later and provoke renewal back to the original intent.

So if God is calling you there, by all means, share your life and heart freely. With a well-tuned ear to the Spirit, serve where you can reflect the kingdom and pray you’ll recognize when staying in the institution will compromise the core of your relationship with Christ.  There are no easy answers here except to follow Christ as he guides you, whether that means you end up inside or outside of the structure itself in any given season of your life.

I address this in more detail in my book Finding Church, which identifies eight characteristics of the New Creation that can help us see if the thing we’re involved in reflects the kingdom’s priorities or the sweat of human effort. Beyond Sundays will also be a helpful read to realize that the church of Jesus Christ is larger than any institution can ever reflect, and we ought to look for the bride in the meaningful connections and collaborations Jesus will give us with other believers, whether or not they are in the same institution we are.

As far as how do we cooperate on big-ticket items,  that’s easy. As Jesus calls people to collaborate together and respond to him, some extraordinary things can happen. Our little podcast put almost $2.5 million into Kenya. It started with a few orphanages after the tribal violence, then grew into helping four starving nomadic tribes develop resources for water, food, hygiene, education, and business to become self-supporting.  And they came to Jesus in it all because God connected a man in Kenya with the life-giving resources he found at Lifestream. Our growing friendship took it from there. We didn’t make an institution out of it; we just did what God asked us in that season.  Many people gave to help, and we sent the money along for real transformation.  We didn’t create any ongoing dependencies but taught them to learn to rely on God to carry them forward.

Jesus is building his church in the world, and she is resplendent in his life and glory. It may overlap the institutions that humanity builds at times, but none of them contain her of themselves. We cannot create the perfect institution or movement to contain his glory. It always gets tainted by those who think their institution is the same as his church.

Learn to celebrate his church wherever she takes shape around you in the relationships and opportunities to serve that he will invite you into. Just be careful to avoid the idea that any institution can represent him well in the world. TThat’snot what he had in mind, or he would have given us an institution to steward on his behalf. The church Jesus modeled was not a weekly meeting and a hierarchical structure. It was a group of men and women learning to be loved by God and, in turn, loving each other, the world around them, and even their enemies. That spread all over the world the first time before we structured it to death, and it’s how she’ll still spread in the world today.

To explore this further, see the God Journey podcast The Church Jesus Modeled, and watch for its follow-up on December 19, Do All Institutions Fail.

I’m at the airport now, headed for a ten-day swing throughout Florida, except for the panhandle.  If you want to visit with me, here’s my schedule.

Can Institutions Be Redemptive? Read More »

Where Love Can’t Be Savored

Living in the freedom of God’s love will make you a better lover of people, but that doesn’t mean everyone will be able to recognize that love.

Instead, some will accuse you of not loving them because you don’t cater to their destructive whims. God knows this well as he lived it himself. Jesus was the perfect embodiment of God’s love to a broken world, and it got him killed by those that wanted to manipulate him and his gifts for their own ends. Love can be freely given, but it will be missed if it doesn’t find a resting place in one being loved.

Since I wrote the blog about Navigating Toxic Relationships, I heard from many of you who are doing exactly that. Friends, family, co-workers, or even a religious leader can become toxic when you become the focus of their unresolved issues or feel they are losing control over their own lives.  They will falsely accuse you and then refuse to talk it through by cutting you off or throwing a tantrum. This is all the more painful when you deeply care for the person involved. I’m always a champion for staying in a relationship as long as you have the grace to endure the cost, hoping and praying for God’s light to win over the lies and anger. However, people caught in such toxicity need to recognize that any attempts to reach out to their attacker will only cause them greater pain and anguish. Loving someone like that from up close can actually drive them further into their pain and delusion.

That’s when it’s best to love from afar as the father does in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. There was nothing he could say to his son that would turn his heart toward home, so he gave his son the distance to savor the consequences of his false conclusions until he came to the end of himself.  Then, he could embrace the affection his father had always had for him.

My heart goes out to those of you suffering through a toxic relationship and wondering every day if you’re doing the right thing in seeking a way to love them. After my blog, one person recommended a book I have found helpful.  It’s called 5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life by Bill Eddy. The subtitle is: “Identifying and Dealing with Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other High-Conflict Personalities.”  His research led him to conclude that ten percent of people are High Conflict Personalities, which are dangerous to engage. They create chaos in pools of relationships by fixating on a Target of Blame to focus their anger and fears.  They will weaponize other relationships you have to seek to marginalize you as the one with “issues.” While they treat everyone else with kindness, they will gossip and attack their victim relentlessly.

You can detect a High Conflict Personality by their persistent anger and gossip, always blaming someone else for whatever goes wrong, and will refuse to have a reasoned conversation to resolve their concerns. He recommends doing everything you can not to become their Target of Blame, and if you do, not confronting them for it will only escalate their anger.  It’s best, he suggests, to stay away from such the person targeting you. Yes, that’s easier said than done, but it is fruitless to try to love someone up close who perceives that love as a threat. When that happens, you need to withdraw for their good as well as your own.

I know that is hard to do, but you’re not responsible for those who cannot receive love from you. There’s no one better to share this with than God, whose love is also missed by those who are so locked in their pain they cannot see his love. You can love them from afar and hold them in your heart to see if they can come to the end of themselves and be open again to love. Most of these High Conflict Personalities are reacting to unresolved pain and trauma in their own lives. Targeting others is only a really bad coping mechanism to alleviate their own fear or pain.  By taking yourself out of the way, they will more quickly come to see that the problem is not the person they are blaming but the brokenness in their own soul. They merit our compassion, not our judgment. At the same time, however, we can recognize our limitations in our ability to express love to them.

Here are some of my highlights from that book I found helpful:

You can trust 80 to 90 percent of people to be who they say they are; to do what they say they’ll do; and to follow most of the social rules that help us live together. But the people we’re concerned with are the 10 percent—the one person in ten—who has a Target of Blame and a personality disorder. These are the people who are so fixated on their Targets that they can’t let go, can’t stop themselves, can’t change and therefore can ruin lives—including yours.

It’s the combination of someone having a high-conflict personality (people who have Targets of Blame) and a personality disorder (those who never reflect on their own behavior nor try to change it) that creates a human being who can ruin your life. That combination is the subject we’ll explore together.

There are five types of people who can ruin your life. They can ruin your reputation, your self-esteem, or your career. They can destroy your finances, your physical health, or your sanity. Some of them will kill you, if you give them the opportunity. They usually do this by focusing on Targets of Blame, whom they mercilessly attack—verbally, emotionally, financially, reputationally, litigiously, and sometimes violently—often for months or years, even if the initial conflict was minor. Their Targets of Blame are usually someone close (a coworker, neighbor, friend, partner, or family member) or someone in a position of authority.

The author breaks these High Conflict Personalities (HCP) into five types:

  • Narcissistic HCPs: They often seem very charming at first but believe they are hugely superior to others. They insult, humiliate, mislead, and lack empathy for their Targets of Blame. They also demand constant undeserved respect and attention from everyone.
  • Borderline HCPs: They often start out extremely friendly—but they can suddenly and unpredictably shift into being extremely angry. When this shift occurs, they may seek revenge for minor or nonexistent slights. They may launch vicious attacks against their Targets of Blame that involve physical violence, verbal abuse, legal action, or attempts to destroy their Targets’ reputations.
  • Antisocial (or Sociopathic) HCPs: They can be extremely charismatic—but their charm is a cover for their drive to dominate others through lying, stealing, publicly humiliating people, physically injuring them, and—in extreme cases—murdering them. They want what they want and they want it now. If you stand in their way, they will push you aside, or destroy your reputation, or even kill you to get what they want. They lack remorse, and some enjoy hurting people. In this regard, they are different from the other personalities who will ruin your life, but don’t harm you on purpose. Antisocial HCPs are driven by a need for dominance, and may ruin your life just to give themselves a sense of control over someone. They will talk fast and lie to your face so convincingly that you will second-guess your own instincts. Antisocial HCPs are remorseless and are said to have no conscience. 
  • Paranoid HCPs: They are deeply suspicious and constantly fear betrayal. Because they imagine conspiracies against them, they will launch preemptive attacks against their Targets of Blame, hoping to harm them first.
  • Histrionic HCPs: They can have very dramatic and exciting personalities. They often tell wild and extreme stories (which are sometimes totally false). Over time, they can be very harmful and emotionally draining to those around them, especially their Targets of Blame.

Not every bump in a relationship ought to be blamed on these things. Only ten percent of people are high conflict personalities, and they usually have only one or two Targets of Blame.  Fortunately, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, nor does everyone become a Target of Blame. Just keep your eyes open and remember that you cannot force someone to be loved. Sometimes loving well is giving someone the distance to come to the end of themselves and turn from their destructive ways to embrace the love they already have.

 

Where Love Can’t Be Savored Read More »

The Shepherd Is at Work

Yes, Sara and I are reading my new devotional book together, and though it feels a bit weird, we are enjoying how God is freshening in our hearts those realities he’s been inviting us to embrace for over twenty-five years.  This is from June 26, a reminder that following him is the only way to discover what our hearts long for most.  We are so easily distracted by the manipulations of others or the lure of following another human rather than him. Following him is the way to fullness and the church he is gathering from all over the world.

I know that the closer you follow me the *lonelier it seems.

You even think at times that I abandoned you and you withdrew into your fears. But even there, I am with you, calling you outside of yourself to come into the freedom of being my child and to join your heart with others in my flock that live for no other.

You’ve been called arrogant, independent, and unsubmitted, not by those who knew my heart, but by those who wanted you to conform to their way of doing things. They can’t see my flock beyond their own way of organizing it. If you only knew how many people I have scattered all over the world, you would rejoice that you’re not alone.

Some of those live just down the block from you or work alongside you. I know that you don’t know them yet, but you do understand the passion that courses through their veins and their desire to connect with people who share it.

I am the shepherd of all my sheep and I am not only inviting you to follow me as an individual, I am gathering my flock together from the ends of the earth—not in human systems devouring your time and energy, but in the joy of healthy friendships.

No man will own it and no system will replicate what I am building between my people. Resist the temptation to follow models devised by men that will always fail.

They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
John 10:16 (NIV)

 

Taken from The Call of the Shepherd, a blog Wayne wrote in May of 2004 as if giving voice to Jesus’ heart for his church. You can read the whole thing here.

Get your copy of Live Loved Free Full.

__________

*Interestingly enough, I had this quote in my inbox yesterday from The Daily Dig about loneliness and the work of God on earth.  Though I’m not feeling lonely these days, I know for others who have yet to connect with people who are leaning into the life of the Shepherd, there can be some lonely moments. Hopefully, this will encourage you.  I love it.  And I’m going to have to dig in and read The Brothers Karamazov someday.  I have yet to do it.

Believe to the End

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If everyone abandons you and even drives you away by force, then when you are left alone fall on the earth and kiss it, water it with your tears, and it will bring forth fruit even though no one has seen or heard you in your solitude. Believe to the end, even if all people went astray and you were left the only one faithful; bring your offering even then and praise God in your loneliness. And if two of you are gathered together – then there is a whole world, a world of living love. Embrace each other tenderly and praise God, for, if only in you two, his truth has been fulfilled.

Source: The Brothers Karamazov

The Shepherd Is at Work Read More »

It’s Time to Take Wing, Again!

I doubt few people enjoyed the COVID stay-at-home orders more than I did. After twenty-five years of constant travel, it was a joy to be home with Sara for such a prolonged period as well as to work on some projects that were on my heart—the My Friend Luis podcast, a new daily devotional Live Loved Free Full, the A Breath of Fresh Air encouragements, and The Jesus Story, an adaptation of The Jesus Lens for kids. I’ve had numerous incredible engagements via Zoom with individuals and small groups for prayer, discovery, and insight into Father’s work in the world.  It has been both a restful and a fruitful season, and my heart has been re-shaped in so many ways and re-staged for what’s ahead.

The God Journey continued to allow me to explore many of the themes that continue to grow in my heart and mind—helping people live loved, recognizing and responding to Father’s work in their own hearts to overturn their illusions so they can more freely walk in his love and discover the joy of laying down their lives in a hostile world.

Now, I sense it’s time to take wing again, literally, traveling to places where God wants me to encourage his people to lean into his glory. As we come to rely on his love, it will allow us to see the truth of what’s going on inside of us and around us so that we can be part of his unfolding glory in the world and love well those he’s inviting us to engage.  So, this fall, I’ll begin traveling for a season as I sense God leading me to serve his purpose in the world.

In the last few months, I’ve sensed a freshening wind of the Spirit to help a new generation experience the joy of living outside the bondage of religious obligation and shame, to discover how to be sensitive to God’s Spirit and direction in the real circumstances of everyday life. I want to continue to have conversations that matter with people who care, whether that be in homes, outdoors, retreat centers, fellowship halls, or other places we can gather. I don’t do a lot of that by teaching seminars but by hanging out over a few days with people who want to explore what it means to walk alongside the Risen Christ.

God’s glory is rising again in those who wish to live untainted by religious obligation and free to follow the Lamb wherever he goes. While this will engage a younger generation, I’m also excited about exploring how more seasoned saints can be cheerleaders in this process by encouraging younger ones without seeking to control or monetize what God is doing. How can we be in tune with God’s work in the world and embrace the divine community God is stitching together around us?

I have a host of pre-COVID invitations, but I’m laying those aside to see what fresh direction God has for days to come. So, don’t assume I’ll follow up on an old invitation. If you even have an inkling that God might want to put something together where you live, please get in touch with me so we can pray and listen. Some of the places God wants me to go involve younger people who have never planned this kind of thing before and might be afraid to do it. Be courageous, and see what God might do.

What does it take for me to come? Not much! We simply need a shared sense that God has something in mind where you are, a place to hang out with people for a few days, and a pocket of people there who want to explore together what it means to live in love, at rest, and at play in the Father’s presence as we follow his leading. I have always traveled at my own expense, so finances are never an issue. If people inviting me can help share in those expenses, that’s always a bonus. If not, Father has other ways to provide for what he wants to do.

I have a few things to take care of at home this summer, but toward the end of August and beyond, I’m going to see where Father wants to take me.  First, I’m going to circle back to a few invitations I had to cancel when the pandemic hit and see if there’s still a desire for me to come.  I’m looking at you, Michigan, Wichita, Miami, and Oklahoma City.  Beyond that, I already have fresh invitations to Virginia and Maryland when I start traveling again.

If you’re in those areas, or someplace altogether different, with a desire on your heart to get some people together and explore the life lived in love and at the pleasure and power of his Spirit, let me know. And, if you want to connect with me if I’m ever in your area, you can sign up for Travel Notifications here. You’ll receive an email if I’m coming within a couple of hundred miles of where you live.

The people I’ve met around the world have greatly enriched my life and my journey. I learn so much from other people’s stories and the struggles they have endured. I’m looking forward to seeing what this next chapter looks like and how God’s glory will continue to rise in the world.

It’s Time to Take Wing, Again! Read More »