He Loves Me

Free of Shame and Full of Love

Due to the fact that Sara and I will be leaving soon, we’re doubling-up on our study of He Loves Me. This weekend we’ll be tackling two more chapters. Chapter 20 is about living free from shame in our relationship to the Father though Jesus’s work on the cross.  Chapter 21 is about swimming in the river of love, and how when we are loved well by God, we will love well in the world.

These two freedoms lie at the heart of living loved and will change how you naturally live in the world. Can you imagine living in this kind of freedom without forcing yourself?

You will soon find that your security in God’s love and your awareness of his unlimited patience with you will redefine the other relationships in your life.

Instead of demanding that others conform to what you think is right, you will find yourself letting others have their own journey. By no longer manipulating them to what you think is best you can allow them the same freedom God gives you. You will let them choose their own course based on nothing but the clarity of truth as they understand it and the willingness of their conscience. It is the task of the Holy Spirit to convict, not yours.

Instead of despising people who are broken by sin you will be touched by the depth of bondage that holds them captive. You will also see better how the Father responds to them and then know how you can as well. Sometimes that means you’ll stand back and let the consequences of sin take their course as the father did with his prodigal son. At other times it means you’ll jump into the mess with them and help them find God’s way out.

Instead of saying what you think people want to hear, you’ll look for ways to be gently honest with them. Human love seeks people’s comfort at the expense of truth. God’s love seeks people’s comfort in the midst of truth. He doesn’t avoid the difficult moment or hold his peace just to be nice. As you experience that in your own relationship with him you’ll find yourself unable to be disingenuous with people.

Finally, by looking to God as the resource for your needs you will find yourself not overloading your friendships with expectations that are easily disappointed. By vesting all of our hope in God’s ability to meet our needs we will not need to force our friends to do it. I know God will often use other believers to extend his gifts and graces to me, but now I also know I don’t get to choose the vessel he uses. In other words, I always look for how God is revealing himself to me through other believers, but I don’t trick myself into thinking it has to come from the specific person I want him to use.

Disappointed expectations destroy relationships because we look to others in ways God wants us to look to him. Such expectations set us up for enduring frustration. However, when we give up our expectations of people, we’ll find God uses some of the most unlikely people to lend us a hand. Our frustration will yield to gratefulness however, whenever, and through whomever God uses others to touch us or us to touch others.

We’ll be talking about all of this at our next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Club, which will meet this Saturday, March 23, at 11:00 am Pacific Daylight Time.  This is two hours earlier than previously announced because of a schedule conflict. I apologize for the inconvenience.

We will be focusing on chapters 20 and 21. This is our second-to-the last gathering but even if you have not joined us before, you’re welcome to join us tomorrow and process how you can live more freely in love as well.

If you want to join us in this Zoom conversation, you can get details and the link by liking the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link to be sent each time we meet. For those who just want to watch, we stream them live now on my Lifestream Ministry Page, since a new glitch in Zoom is not allowing us to post them to my Facebook Author Page. I will, however, post it to the Author Page once the conversation has concluded. You will be able to view it there along with  all the previous discussions we’ve had about He Loves Me.

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Managing Sin and Having Faith

I think we got it backwards when I was growing up.

We were told relationship with Jesus depended on us managing our sin well—sincerely trying to abstain from it, meeting with accountability groups, and when we failed, we had to make sure we confessed by telling God how sorry we were and (nobly, though falsely) promising we’d never give in again. The only problem was none of that worked.

Now I know it wasn’t meant to.

I also learned that my relationship with God depended on me trusting him completely. I had as much success with that as I did managing my sin. Certainly, I wanted to trust him that way but every day demonstrated that I was incapable of doing so.

That made the Christian journey either exhausting game of pretending to be better than I was, or a frustrating, self-condemning slog through

The part we missed was, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

We were never meant to conquer our sin or convince ourselves of a faith we didn’t have. That’s how the New Covenant flipped everything on its head. Instead of managing our sin or trying to trust more, he only wants us to learn how to live alongside him in the reality of his love. I now know that as I learn to live in his love, the power of sin loses its grip on me and my trust in him grows by his power instead of by my effort.

Christianity is afraid to give that freedom to people for fear that they will simply use grace as an excuse to indulge their flesh and serve themselves. We keep twisting up the gift of redemption by trying to find Scriptures that will scare people back into self-effort. I addressed that problem in Chapter 18 of He Loves Me.

We make a fatal mistake when we try to force Scripture to offer redemption to those who only want to go to heaven, but who do not want a relationship with the Living God. By trying to offer them some minimal standard of conduct that will also allow them to qualify for salvation while continuing to pursue their own agenda, we distort the gospel and destroy its power, and we concoct legalistic games to give them a false sense of security.

In fact the New Testament has nothing to say to people who want God’s salvation without wanting him. The Scriptures are an unabashed invitation to live as a child of the most incredible Father in the universe. As you do, you will yearn to be like him. You will discover that God’s way is better than anything you can imagine and you’ll lay down your agenda to embrace his.


Righteousness doesn’t produce relationship. Relationship produces righteousness.

We’ll be talking about all of this at our next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Club, which will meet this Saturday, March 16, at 1:00 pm Pacific Standard Time.  We will be focusing on chapters 18 and 19—how living loved gives us a different approach to sin than human effort could ever achieve, and a real grasp on trust that we can’t muster on our own. Even if you have not joined us before, you’re welcome to join us tomorrow and process how you can live more freely in love as well.

If you want to join us in this Zoom conversation, you can get details and the link by liking the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link to be sent each time we meet. For those who just want to watch, we stream them live now on my Lifestream Ministry Page, since a new glitch in Zoom is not allowing us to post them to my Facebook Author Page. I will, however, post it to the Author page once the conversation has ended. You can see it there as well as all the previous discussions we’ve had about He Loves Me.

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A Life Lived in Love

This weekend we’ll begin the fourth section of He Loves Me, where I wrote about what it means to live loved. It’s one thing to believe God loves me with our head, and another to grow in that love as the defining reality of our lives. Knowing we’re loved as a belief will only take us so far; it’s living in that love that opens up a lifelong adventure that will hold you through any storm, give you direction in every circumstance, and tenderizes your heart from the inside so you can love others without having to try.

How has it changed me? This is how I expressed it in Chapter 17 twenty-five years ago; I can assure you it has only grown wider and deeper from there:

As you grow increasingly certain that his love for you is not connected to your performance you will find yourself released from the horrible burden of doing something for him. You’ll realize that your greatest ideas and most passionate deeds will fall far short of what he really wants to do through you.

I used to be driven to do something great for God. I volunteered for numerous opportunities and worked hard in the hopes that some book I was writing, some church I was planting, or some organization I was helping would accomplish great things for God. While I think God used my misguided zeal in spite of myself, nothing I did ever rose to the level of my expectations. Instead they seemed to distract me from God, consume my life, and leave me stressed out or worn out from the pursuit.

I’m not driven anymore. I haven’t tried to do anything great for God in more than a decade, and yet I have seen him use my life in ways that always exceed my expectations. What changed? I did, by his grace.

My desire to do something great for God served me far more than it ever did him. It kept me too busy to enjoy him and distracted me from the real ministry opportunities he brought across my path every day.

I used to start my day laying out my plans before God and seeking his blessing on them. How silly! Why would I even want God to be the servant of my agenda? God’s plans for my day far exceed mine. I can almost hear him now as I awaken, “Wayne, I’m going to touch some people today. Do you want to come along?”

It’s amazing how gentle that is; but all the more powerful because it is. I don’t have to go. God’s work won’t be thwarted by my lack of participation. He will touch them anyway, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. He does things I’ve never dreamed of and uses me in ways I could never conceive. His focus on touching people instead of managing programs has revolutionized my view of ministry. It requires no less diligence on my part, but directs that diligence in far more fruitful endeavors.

If you’ve never known the joy of simply living in God’s acceptance instead of trying to earn it, your most exciting days in Christ are ahead of you. People who learn to live out of a genuine love relationship with the God of the universe will live in more power, more joy, and more righteousness than anyone motivated by fear of his judgment.

We’ll continue our conversations about He Loves Me this Saturday, March 2 at 1:00 pm Pacific Standard Time.  We will be focusing on chapters 16 and 18—how the death of Christ gives us a basis for growing trust in the Father’s care and how we find freedom from religious performance so we can be transformed by love. Even if you have not joined us before, you’re welcome to join us tomorrow and process how you can live more freely in love as well.

If you want to join us in this Zoom conversation, you can get details and the link by liking the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link to be sent each time we meet. For those who just want to watch, we stream them live now on my Lifestream Ministry Page, since a new glitch in Zoom is not allowing us to post them to my Facebook Author Page. I will, however, post it to the Author page once the conversation has ended. You can see it there as well as all the previous discussions we’ve had about He Loves Me.

My greatest passion for anyone who reads these blogs or anyone I’m in a conversation with is that they, too, would come to experience the joy and freedom of resting in the Father’s affection through the work of Jesus. There’s nothing else in this world worth more than that.


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The Last Lesson My Father Taught Me

(Note: Today, I am posting the first installment of a three-part story that is intensely personal. It begins with a great tragedy before God turns it into a story of redemption and freedom, though not in the way most people would think.)

My dad was one of my greatest heroes. Not only was he a decorated World War II veteran, who was wounded on the front in France, but he was throughout my life a man of great integrity and generosity. What he taught me about who God is and how to follow him, he did far less by his words than his example. 

He was married to my mom for sixty-six years until she passed away. He had four sons and worked hard in his own vineyard to provide for his family. In addition, he was an active leader in whatever congregation he attended and helped many people find Jesus in dark and painful times. His passion for Jesus was infectious and few people I ever knew were more devoted, kind, and discerning. 

So, the day two years ago when he turned on me without warning, making absurd accusations, shocked me to my core. Others close to him had manipulated his fears and vulnerability to convince him I was obstructing his medical care in an attempt to take control of him and his money.

Those words are excruciating to write. If you’ve heard me talk about my father, you know the deep regard I have for him. It was heart-breaking when he cut me off, unwilling to find out if any of the accusations he leveled at me were even true. It destroyed a lifelong friendship and I’m sharing this story now, not to expose the darker side of my family, but to encourage others who find themselves in similar situations. I find myself sitting with people every week who have endured similar things in their own family.

My dad has since passed away. Now that he knows what’s true without feeling any shame, I have no doubt he would want this story shared as well, not just for what it taught me, but also as a cautionary tale for those who think they are beyond delusion. Jesus warned us that at the end of this age, conflict would separate families. He even expressed his concern that darkness would be so strong that if the days weren’t cut short, even the elect would be deceived.

I consider my dad one of the elect. I know of no one who gave his life more fully to Jesus, who never made a dime from his service. Yet, no matter how closely any of us walk with God, we are not immune from being tricked by darkness and believing things that aren’t true.  

This article is not about my father’s betrayal, but how God can redeem even the unmerited rejection of people we deeply love and respect. It happened to Jesus and, in the polarized climate we live in, it will happen to many others. Nothing has taught me more about God and how his kingdom works than walking with him through unmerited rejection. I assume this was the last lesson Jesus wanted me to learn from my dad, though I doubt he volunteered for it. Not only did it alter some deep places in my heart, it also prepared me well for a crisis I didn’t yet know was headed my way.    


A Surprise Attack 

I first recognized the shift in my dad’s demeanor seven years prior, not long after my mom passed away. I saw an anger in him I’d never seen before as he verbally attacked someone close to him who had thirty years earlier accused him and my mom of unspeakable acts. “You let my wife go to her grave with all your lies.” Though his words were accurate, the venom built up over those years was dark and destructive. 

A few years later, I saw that same venom directed toward his pastor, whom he felt was resisting the Holy Spirit. He told me how he was going to confront him. Fortunately, I was able to talk him down before that conversation ever happened. 

At the same time, his discernment about how Christ was leading him became more of a wish list. Preoccupied with why God was keeping him alive into his nineties when most of his peers had already passed on, he struggled to find meaning. He became more absorbed in Christian television and the revivalist fervor that was influencing many Charismatics. One day he told me that he had found his purpose: God was holding him here for the last, great revival where he would personally pray for thousands of people to receive the Holy Spirit. 

His passions also turned political. One month before the 2020 election he said God had told him President Trump would win re-election. When that failed, he told me God would put him back in power by March of that year and then later in August. He wasn’t the only one saying such things, but he was completely certain he had it right. 

When I asked him what mechanism would allow that to happen, he was dismissive of my “unbelief.” When I expressed concerns that he was living alone in a mountain community far from medical care, he said God had promised him that he wouldn’t be sick again, but simply die in his sleep one night at his home in Shaver Lake. When I asked him to at least consider if he was prophesying his preferences, he couldn’t see it. 

I am always concerned when people find their comfort in false hopes because I know how painful they can be when their expectations don’t materialize. Even as he was talking about his good health, he was already battling bladder cancer. Then two years before he died, he fell and broke his hip. Soon after, he was diagnosed with melanoma and died in a hospice in Idaho, far from home. 

But before that happened, he made it personal. One day, I walked into his hospital room while he was recovering from surgery for a broken hip to meet an icy glare. I had come to visit him for three days and help him arrange his finances for his future care. The day before we spent a delightful afternoon, reminiscing about our younger days. This was different. I’d seen that look before, but then it wasn’t directed at me. I had no sense it was this time, either. Unfortunately, I was wrong. 

Concerned that he didn’t recognize me, I greeted him, “Hi Dad, it’s me, Wayne.” 

He continued staring, a scowl twisting his face. After an awkward pause, he growled, “I know who you are.” His voice was ominous, threatening, and laced with rage. Surprised, I paused to appraise the situation. 

After a few seconds, he started yelling at me, “What have you done?  What have you done?”  

I was caught off guard and had not a guess as to what he meant. “I’m sorry, Dad, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

“Don’t lie to me. You know exactly what you’ve done.”  

The next twenty minutes was a blur. He continued to make accusations that made no sense, and nothing I said made a dent in his suspicions or his rage. According to him, the doctor had told him that I was obstructing his medical care. Furthermore, he was also convinced I was there to forcibly remove him from the hospital and place him in a care facility near where I lived, all in an attempt to take control of his money.

Though none of that was remotely true, I had no ability to communicate hat to him. I told him I had not raised any issues with his medical team, nor would I force him to live anywhere he didn’t want to live. My entreaties we all rejected. He had put up a solid wall. “God told me you are a liar, and I will never trust anything you say again.” 

I excused myself to seek out his doctor, who unfortunately had left that morning for a medical conference. His case manager followed me back to my dad’s room. I told her what my dad had said, and she assured him that I had not been an obstruction to his care in any way and that the team enjoyed working with me. He didn’t believe her and told her so to her face.  

I hope to find out some day that this could all be blamed on dementia, but his doctor said he showed no signs of it medically, and his anger was only directed at me. His doctor called me the next day and when I asked why my dad thought I was obstructing his medical care, he felt horrible. “I was referring to his caretaker, not to you.” In the days that followed, I begged Dad to call him to find out for himself. He steadfastly refused and I don’t know that he would have believed him anyway.  

I told him none of his accusations was true and that I was sorry he had come to believe such things, especially without ever talking to me. He grew increasingly agitated in my presence, so I asked if he wanted me to leave. He did. So, rather than spend the afternoon with him as I’d hoped, I found myself driving four hours back home, trying to figure out what just happened and what I should do about it. 


Losing My Dad

It’s a good thing I had a long drive home. It gave me time to process my confusion and pain. I was angry, to be sure, more at those who lied to my father than at him. I had already known they were being less than honest with me about his care; now I knew they were also lying to him about me. 

But what do I do now? On that drive and over the next few weeks, I called a few close friends to share my grief and seek their counsel. Initially, we all hoped God would find a way to healing for our family in this season of my dad’s life and help him get the care he needed. I held on to some hope that because it came out of nowhere, this mess would get straightened out in a few days when more reasoned heads prevailed. Attempts to do so, however, only led to doors slammed in my face, literally. 

No matter what I said or did, Dad’s anger only grew as did his delusions. Anger makes it easy to identify the lies. Those who know the truth don’t get angry when they are not believed, knowing truth always wins out in the end. Every time we spoke, he leveled a new accusation more absurd than the earlier ones. He refused to listen to anything I said. Distorting every good thing we had shared over a lifetime, he even tried to weaponize my children and my wife against me. I finally came to realize I had lost my dad, and the people around him who knew better continued to play dumb.

My family has a long history of triangulating frustrations. Even at young ages we ran to Mom and Dad whenever we were unhappy with another brother to seek their validation and let them deal with it. In adulthood, it incubated an ugly rumor mill, and I had stopped playing that game decades before. I knew it would cost me one day, but not this—not my relationship with Dad.  

One of my brothers, unbeknownst to me, had been venting his frustrations to Dad, blaming me for his discontent. When his new caretaker came, she added fuel to that fire because he’d also been talking to her. When my brother told me one day, over his latest angry tirade, that Dad agreed with him that it was all my fault, I asked Dad if that was true. He said he had heard my brother out but did not agree with him; he was only trying to comfort him and his wife. I reminded him he was only hearing one side of a painful story and if he was ever tempted to believe it, he might want to hear the other side. He assured me there was no need.

I came to find out after that, those conversations had only intensified behind my back in recent years. He had come to believe them without ever asking for my input. How did such a wise and discerning man fall for so many lies? My dad was never an angry man; he was a kind and gentle soul, firm but certainly fair. So, when his anger came at me with the most absurd accusations without any evidence to support them, it was quite out of character. 

Over the years, I’ve noticed two things that leave people vulnerable to lies and delusion—fear and vengeance. When people are afraid something bad will happen to them or they give into anger for a real or perceived injustice, they cling to any comfort they can find, even in well-spun but untrue stories. 

Participating in one-sided gossip certainly helped, as did the angry revivalist preachers who blamed the political left for delaying the revival my dad long hoped for. He was furious over the false accusations he had borne for more than thirty years, and somehow grew fearful his life would have no meaning. Furthermore, he grew frustrated that our country no longer embraced the moral foundation upon which he had built his life. 

Combined with the limitations of his age, I’m convinced all these contributed to my dad’s delusion. I was no longer a Trump supporter. I do see his self-serving lies as an existential threat to the future of our democratic republic, not only because of the insurrection his words helped provoke but also by undermining our confidence in the Constitution itself. Like many other Charismatics, my dad came to see Trump as the force for good in the final conflict between good and evil. And, as he had been told, anyone who opposed Trump is on the side of demons. 

Thus, it was not difficult for those around him to separate Dad from me. It triggered his hostility and gave him a focus for his frustration. When I could prove to Dad his accusations had no merit, he would retreat to, “I don’t believe you. This is what God told me.” Human conflicts are unresolvable when one side invokes the God-told-me defense, especially when you know they are wrong. And few things are more painful than when a close confidant becomes your chief accuser, denigrating every aspect of your personality to support the allegations they cannot defend any other way.  

The last phone call I had with him a year before his death was the second-worse experience of my life. He told me that I was a fraud, that I could write beautiful things but not live them. God had shown him I would not be in heaven and that two years before, the Holy Spirit had left me and two demons had taken his place. Even then, I tried to find a way in, telling him how much I loved him and hoping we could find our way back to a tender and honest relationship. He concluded by saying we would never talk again, and we didn’t over the next year before his death.  

I didn’t believe him even for a moment; this was not my dad. He was a far better man than this. I can’t begin to imagine what pain and doubt did to him when so many things he thought God told him didn’t happen. Lies twist us into horrible caricatures of our true selves. I prayed for him every day, hoping against hope for reconciliation before his passing, but somehow, I knew from that first day in the hospital that this was not going to heal in this life.  

For sixty-eight years, he had been much more than my father. He was a close friend, confidant, and advisor in business and spiritual matters. He served on the leadership team of the congregations I helped pastor. I enjoyed talking with him as much as anyone and bore with him through the painful days of my mom’s death. We didn’t always agree but we were honest and gracious with each other, as we encouraged each other to follow Jesus as he seemed to guide each of us. 

Among other things, he taught me how that the truth matters, how to listen and follow the voice of the Spirit, and that following him was more important than being popular or chasing the status quo. He taught me to trust God as provider when he watched two of his grape crops being destroyed by unseasonable rains. He taught me how to stand up against the powers of darkness that torment people from within, when no one else would deal with it. 

And, in one of the lowest points of my life, nearly thirty years ago, he had read me the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: “Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you…” (Matthew 5:11 MSG) Blessed? I had to convince myself back then, but I have come to see what incredible power arises from dealing with rejection. Who would have thought that so many years later, Dad’s encouragement to me would apply to him? I’m sure he would never have wanted this, but his actions became a precious gift nonetheless.

The following two years provided a graduate level education in the power of enduring unmerited rejection. It changed me in deep and wonderful ways. I have come to see any suffering, especially that which is unjust, as fertile ground for the Spirit’s work of inviting us to a deeper love. I would be so grateful in days ahead for the lessons that found a home in my heart in this season.

This story continues here. 


Without referencing this exact situation, Wayne, Sara, and Kyle talked about Unmerited Rejection last year on The God Journey podcast, in case you wanted more information.

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Misunderstanding the Atonement

Today, Sara and I head off for some gatherings in San Diego this weekend. We are looking forward to what Father has there.  Let me leave you with this as we go:

One of the greatest misunderstandings people have of Scripture is that God needed a sacrifice to love us. Jesus came in his humanity to offer the sacrifice God wanted from us that we could never give. While that expresses some Old Testament thoughts about sacrifices it misses the larger through-line of Scripture. God was shifting humanity’s view of sacrifice. All of the false gods that humans created were angry, vindictive deities, needing to be appeased by sacrifice—gifts and offerings at first, but for many, eventual human sacrifice.

The message God gave to Abraham when he tried to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice was that God didn’t want or need our sacrifice. He would be the sacrifice we need to re-engage him as our trusted friend. Jesus didn’t die to satisfy something broken in God (e.g. his need for justice), but Jesus died to satisfy something broken in humanity (our shame in sin and our fear of him.)  This is how I wrote about it in He Loves Me.

At Mt. Moriah God foreshadowed to Abraham what he would literally accomplish some three thousand years later on another hill not far away, Golgotha. It would not be the act of appeasement to an angry God by any sacrifice we could give, but an act of a loving God to sacrifice himself for those who were held captive in sin.

Far from being a blood-thirsty sovereign demanding sacrifice to satiate his need for vengeance, the Living God spends himself to bring back the banished son or daughter. He did not need a sacrifice to love us, for he already did.

We needed a sacrifice for our shame so that we would be free to love him again. At the cross, God provided the undeniable proof of just how much he loves us. For those who understand that, it opens the door for us to do what Adam and Eve could not do that fateful day in the Garden—totally entrust our lives to the Living God.

If we misunderstand the atonement, we will spend our lives trying to keep God appeased by earning his favor with our effort. When we understand what Jesus accomplished on the cross, we will be safe with God even in our most broken moments and be able to explore what it means to live in his love. That’s how important it is that we see Jesus’ death for what it was.  It was to rescue and redeem us from the power of darkness and invite us into the warmth and tenderness of his life and love.

This is what the third section of He Loves Me is all about—the undeniable proof that we are loved by God and invited into a relationship with him of growing friendship.  It’s also the theme of Transition, a set of recordings designed to help people move from an appeasement-based view of God and the cross, to an affection-based one that will allow you to connect with the redemption Jesus wanted for you.

If you want to talk more about this, we will be doing so in our next meeting of The He Loves Me Book Club, which will convene on Saturday, February 3 at 1:00 pm Pacific Standard Time.  We will focus on Chapters 12 and 13. If you want to join us in this Zoom conversation, you can get details and the link by liking the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link to be sent each time we meet. For those who just want to watch, we stream them live on my Facebook Author Page and leave the recording up after the conversation for others to hear. (You can find past ones by scrolling down on that page.)

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When That Love Touches You…

“Peter, do you love me?”

Why would Jesus care about being loved by Peter? He is Almighty God enthroned in the presence of thousands of adoring angels. He can command obedience simply because he is the greatest power in the universe. Why would he be seeking Peter’s love?

We seem to be far more comfortable when our deities command fear. Almost every idol or false god man has ever created seeks the submission of his or her subjects by sheer terror. But love? What false god ever wanted to be loved? Feared? Yes! Obeyed? Yes. But never loved.

After his work on the cross was finished, however, Jesus comes looking for love, and he seeks it from the one who had just failed him most. Could this be what he most wanted the cross to produce in his followers? Was his death designed to reach past their fears of God and begin a new relationship based on the intimacy of love instead? What else could it be?

Love lies at the very core of God’s nature. In fact, when John sums up the substance of God he does so in a very simple statement: “God is love.” We may not be able to explain in concrete terms all that God is and how Father, Son, and Spirit relate together in such unity, but we do know that they exist in a perfect state of love.

When that love touches you, you will discover there is nothing more powerful in the entire universe. It is more powerful than your failures, your sins, your disappointments, your dreams, and even your fears. God knows that when you tap the depths of his love, your life will forever be changed. Nothing can prevail over it, and nothing else will lead you to taste of his kind of holiness.

Adapted from He Loves Me, Chapter Ten, The Greatest Force in the Universe.

Those paragraphs still cause my heart to soar. That the God of the universe would put so much value on love is nothing humanity could contrive. This is a gift, pure and simple, the very essence of his nature. In the thirty years I’ve enjoyed learning to swim in that love instead of trying to earn it, this still overwhelms my heart with wonder.

We will be studying that chapter and the next one this Saturday, January 6, in the next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Club. We’ll begin at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

This week, we will discuss Chapter 10, The Greatest Force In the Universe, and Chapter 11, He Loved You Enough to Let You Go. Both cover the concepts that shifted the paradigm of my heart from the old religious views of God that destroyed my faith in him rather than encouraged it.

You are welcome to join us even if you haven’t before. We’re just exploring themes to help us walk more freely in God’s goodness and love.

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Where Trust Grows

Sara and I have left Little Rock and headed into South Texas, with stops in Waco, Austin, Wimberley, and Bulvedere (San Antonio) over the next 12 days. Details are on the travel page. We are having a wonderful time seeing what adventures and conversations God has for us each day. We’ve been talking a lot about the growth curve to trust. It is definitely easier to recognize God’s hand and trust his provision when you are at rest inside than when you are tossed about by anxiety.

But far from a choice we make, our trust is the growing response to the love Jesus reveals to us. You can’t try to trust more; you can only learn how he wants you to relax into his love. Then, you’ll be free to trust when you realize you were never in control of your life or the circumstances coming at you.

Trust. It is so easy to talk about, but so hard to put into practice. Nothing is more theologically certain than that God is faithful and trustworthy. But learning how to live in that trust through the twists and turns of our lives is the most difficult challenge we face.

It took God almost Abraham’s entire life to teach Abraham the joy of trusting him. But he did it. Even when he was asked to give up his only son and heir, he trusted God’s plan and God’s nature enough to set about the task. This, from the one who had risked his wife’s virtue by lying to Pharaoh that she was not his wife. This, from the one who had impregnated his wife’s maidservant when it didn’t appear God would give Sarah the child he promised.

To accomplish that, God did some extraordinary things for Abraham. Rest assured, God knows how difficult it is for you to trust him. He is not threatened by that nor angry with you.

He simply wants you to keep your eye on him and learn.

He knows that only by trusting him can you participate in a relationship with him and enjoy the fullness of life in his household. He also knows that you’ll trust him only to the degree that you are certain of his love for you.

I used to believe that trust was a choice, but it isn’t. We can only pretend to trust. God wants to win us into trust by winning us into his love. When you know he is all-powerful and wise beyond anything you can imagine on your best day and that he sees you, knows you, and loves you more than anyone on this planet ever has, you will grow to trust him as you watch how he cares for you. No, it won’t be by meeting your perceived needs but by leading you into his truth and light that will set to right what life in a broken world has done.
The excerpt above is from Chapter Four of He Loves Me, which will be the focus of our next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion, which will be held this Sunday, October 8, at 11:00 a.m. PDT. We’ll be finishing up Chapter 3 and moving on through Chapter 4. We are discovering together how to live loved by the Father and to allow that love to increase our trust in his reality and desires for us.
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. These discussions are held live, recorded, and posted on Zoom. If you can’t join us, catch the conversation on the Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.
You can see replays of our previous gatherings here:  


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The Conversations that Matter

Years ago, I heard a mission statement someone had crafted: “I want to have conversations that matter with people who care.”

When I heard it, I knew instantly that this was the part of my life I treasured most. Above any recreational pursuit, athletic competition, or entertainment option, what I enjoy most is having a conversation that makes a difference in my life or someone else’s because we care about finding our way into Jesus’s fullness. Of course, that is most meaningful when it happens with Sara, my children or grandchildren, other family, and close friends.

But Jesus has also allowed us to have thousands of conversations like this with people worldwide. Many of those have become close friends with repeated opportunities to grow our friendship. That’s why I enjoy doing the podcast and interacting with those who listen, helping them further the conversation with their friends and family. Rich conversations are the treasures that transmit the kingdom.

I read something the other day that helped me see some ingredients that help conversations matter. A psychologist writing about emotionally abusive people said they are incapable of engaging in “mutually respectful relationships that require consideration, empathy, compassion, and kindness.” I find that so incredibly sad because the relationships that allow God’s grace to unfold require those exact things—mutual respect (especially where people don’t see things the same way) as well as consideration, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Those attributes open the kind of dialogue that sets us at ease even in our struggles, helps unravel pain, and allows his truth access to our hearts.

I’ve always got my eye out for conversations that open doors in people’s hearts. I find them everywhere—in our neighborhood, with a worker at our home, phone calls, and gatherings. I pursue them with people God connects me with and intentionally take to time to let relationships grow.

Sara and I will leave California on our second RV trip in two weeks. We’ll go first to Denver to visit our son and then head east, though not so nearly as far as last time. Our itinerary is still flexible, though we are headed to some planned events near Little Rock, Arkansas, and Austin, TX. There’s plenty of room to add other conversations around that as we travel.

We’re doing it pretty much like last time—going where the Spirit seems to lead and staying as long as we need to. Here’s a rough framework, however, of what that could look like:

  • Denver, CO – September 7-13
  • Wichita, KS – September 15-17
  • Kansas City – September 18-20
  • Belleville, IL – September 21-24
  • Little Rock, AR – September 29 – October 1
  • Austin, TX – October 6-8
  • San Antonio, TX – October 11-14

Then, we head home, possibly back up to I-40 through Dallas or Lubbock. We’re not sure yet. But we will go through Albuquerque and Flagstaff on the way home.

So, if you’re along this route and have some people who would like to connect with us, please contact me through email. Then, let’s trust that if God wants us to be together on this trip, he will arrange our schedules accordingly. What will we talk about? Whatever you want to. We no longer set the agenda but wait to see what will most help their journey. Themes from my books and podcasts almost always come up, but that’s a wide range of subject matter:

  • Living loved
  • Dealing with trauma
  • God’s view of sin
  • Finding community
  • The Jesus Lens (a freeing and meaningful engagement with Scripture)
  • Recognizing the Spirit’s nudges
  • Growing trust, and
  • Compassionate and humble engagement with the world

Sometimes, we’ll cover a bunch of those in the same conversation.

And we meet almost anywhere—in homes, parks, restaurants, or by the campfire next to our RV.

Please don’t hesitate to email me if something is on your heart. We may not be able to work everything in, but we will see how the Spirit leads. As a fun aside for this trip, we plan to visit some of the Presidential Libraries along our route. Let us know if you want to join us for one of those. And, yes, we will have plenty of alone time for God’s work to continue unfolding in our journey.

After finishing the Jake Colsen Fan Club, several people asked if we could do one through He Loves Me. Now would be an excellent time to begin, so beginning next Sunday, August 27, we’re going to initiate the He Loves Me Book Club for those who want to go through a chapter-by-chapter focus on the themes in that book. It’s always tricky with an audience as spread out around the world as this one to find a time that will work for everyone. We are going to start at 1:30 pm PDT and work from there. I know it is late in Europe and early in Asia and Australia, but if we have enough interest from both, we may have two different sessions, so one will be in the evening in Europe and late morning in the East.

We will coordinate this book club through a Facebook Group that you are welcome to join. We will continue the discussion there as well as post the Zoom links. If you’re not part of Facebook and want me to send you the link, please email me here.

As I said, there is nothing more compelling than conversations that matter with people who care. Here are some ways to connect with us, but I hope you’re finding meaningful conversations in your own relationships.


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Responsible to Obey, or Free to Love?

In an email exchange with a friend, he made this observation:

“If there are no other species out there (in the universe) unless created by Father, we are responsible to obey him. That’s our responsibility. He will bring the end of the age in his time.”

Reading it, I felt a ping in my yuck meter.

“…Responsible to obey him.” There was a time when I’d have felt comfortable with those words, but no longer. He was a good enough friend to push back playfully:

I agree on all points, though I’d substitute “a love to embrace” for “a responsibility to obey. Love will always lead us to obedience but obedience does not always lead us to love. That’s how I see the new covenant.   

He simply wrote back, “Full agreement here.”

So how do you see your relationship with God today? Do you consider it your responsibility to obey him or your joy to embrace his love?

The Old Testament seems to confront us with the need to obey God because we are afraid of him. That’s our responsibility, or so we thought. However, laced throughout the Old Testament is also the language of lovingkindness and mercy. And the writer of Hebrews tells us they couldn’t enter God’s rest, not because of their disobedience, but because of their unbelief. They didn’t trust his love and goodness, and not believing in him, they continued to look to false gods and foreign powers to comfort them.

Jesus underscored the power of his Father’s love when he was here. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” You could read that under the eyes of the Old Testament to mean that keeping commands proves that we love him. But the whole mission of Jesus proves otherwise. He meant, “If you discover the depth of my love, you will find yourself following me to the ends of the earth.”

That’s what I’ve discovered to be true. Those who seek to follow Jesus focused on fear and obedience are not always pleasant people to be around. They are often frustrated and angry, just like the Pharisees were. Thinking their relationship with God is secured by their performance, they are exhausted by their efforts and frustrated at the lack of results. Moreover, they push their frustration onto others by judging their misdeeds and trespassing on their lives by telling others what they should do.

Thinking our responsibility is to obey him draws us right back under the law, and it will kill us. According to the writer of Hebrews, that’s why Israel couldn’t enter God’s rest—not because of a lack of obedience but because of their unbelief. They didn’t believe he was wholly good and that he loved them even in their darkness. If they had, he would have filled up in their hearts what sin seeks to fill.

Jesus has offered us a better way. Come live in his love, grow to trust him, and you’ll find yourself following him with great joy and freedom.

And that’s the obedience that matters.


If you need some help exploring this shift in thinking, Wayne wrote He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection to do just that.



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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.

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