Wayne Jacobsen

Kenya, and the Beauty of Silence

I almost want to apologize for the picture at the top of this blog. I know these pictures are used gratuitously to make people feel guilty and give to overseas mission outreaches. I’ve never done that, and that’s not why I use it here. This is one of the orphans we are helping at the Forkland School, one of 300 abandoned there by parents who could no longer care for them due to alcoholism and the deepening drought. It’s a heart-breaker for sure, and I wanted you to hold in your heart a bit of that pain with me. Whether you are able to express generosity here through some excess finances or prayer, both are needed.

We were able to send some money along to help them at this time, though they will need more. The need is ongoing, and they are requesting another well in Bungoma that will help that community get through this drought. but there is joy and gratefulness because of those who were able to help them. You can watch this video of Michael celebrating with the children. (43 seconds)

And I thought I’d leave you with this quote I had in my inbox the other day that I find significant.

The tongue is our most powerful weapon of manipulation. A frantic stream of words flows from us because we are in a constant process of adjusting our public image. We fear so deeply what we think other people see in us that we talk in order to straighten out their understanding. If I have done some wrong thing (or even some right thing that I think you may misunderstand) and discover that you know about it, I will be very tempted to help you understand my action.

Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification. One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don’t need to straighten others out.

Source: Richard J. Foster, Seeking the Kingdom

We waste so much time making sure someone doesn’t say anything bad about us. It wastes so much time trying to correct the manipulation and lies of others. These are far better left in Jesus’ hands and we get on with just living as authentic a life as we can and don’t worry about those who seek to be destructive. As Dallas Willard said toward the end of his life, “I am learning the discipline of not always having to have the last word.” It’s a great freedom. Let Jesus have the last word and invite him to shape this in your heart; he’s the only one who can.

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

A Difficult But Joyful Task

Sara and I are taking this week off for a trip to Colorado, including some time with our son. And, as soon as I get back, I’ll be headed into the Carolinas for a couple of weeks. On Saturday, April 2, I’m going to host a day-long conversation at a farm near Lake Wylie, SC for those who want to explore what it means to ride the wind of the Spirit above the most distressing circumstances in our life. You can get more details about that and my other stops here. Also, watch for upcoming trips to Austin, TX, into the upper midwest, and possibly into New England.

Before I go, however, let me leave you with this…

Bob Prater, Arnita Taylor, and I, coauthors of A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, just completed another six-week workshop for a college trying to take a reasoned and compassionate approach to racism on campus. We help them explore the issues affecting their campus and what they can do to help remedy the legitimate concerns. I wish you could have heard the stories of a Palestinian mom who was delighted when her daughter had the white skin color of her American father, so she wouldn’t have to face the same judgments and insensitive comments she has faced. One young woman told of how her parents made her brother lay down on the car’s floorboard in certain situations because he took after the native American side of the family, while she didn’t have to because she looked white. Regretfully, skin tone influences how people are perceived.

I know some of you have not appreciated some of my postings on the racial divide. I hear from a few of you. Some have called me a Marxist (I’m clearly not), others a leftist (nope, not that either), or that I think most police are corrupt (again, not true) simply because I express a concern for the racial inequities that still exist in our culture. Two years ago, our society was primed to have a healing conversation about race after George Floyd’s murder. Unfortunately, our political realities made a constructive dialogue impossible for the broader culture. People only hardened into their previously held perspectives. Admittedly, it is a difficult discussion to have since extremist groups have so polarized it on both sides. I feel bad for those who only see this issue in terms of political power and not compassion for fellow humans whose skin tone adversely affects their ability to live freely and gain equal opportunity in our culture.

It doesn’t look like there’s a political answer here that will fly these days, but that doesn’t mean we as individuals can’t open our hearts a bit wider, engage in one-on-one conversations that can move the needle, and encourage conversations of healing among the people we influence.

Words like equity, fragility, and privilege can trigger strong reactions. But my heart is encouraged by those who look like me who are taking a longer look and discovering there is something to be explored beyond the agendas of those on the extremes. For those of us in the dominant culture, we can listen to those with darker skin tones and understand how that is treated in our broader culture. We can steward the advantages we have to ensure that others have the same opportunities that we have. I am far more excited about those of you who are engaging in this conversation than I am discouraged by those who resist it.

I want to share two emails with you I received about our book and the discussions around it. One is from a medical doctor and what he is learning:

I am very grateful for you and how you have influenced my spiritual journey. The God Journey podcasts, your books, and getting to experience Israel with you and a wonderful group of new friends. All of these have touched me in profound ways. The book on polarization you wrote with Arnita and Bob- ‘A Language of Healing..,” really challenged my thinking. Last year after George Floyd was killed, I decided to take a few minutes with my black patients during the end of their appointment and ask them how they were doing in light of what had happened. It was difficult to do given the schedule and how I can easily get behind. But it was worth it. I probably listened to about 25 or so patients and it was remarkable that nearly all of them had personal stories about their negative experiences with law enforcement or one of their family members. My goal was to listen and learn. I don’t think I would have even thought of doing this had it not been for reading your book. So thank you for being a part of this project.

If we can just begin to listen and care for those adversely impacted by the inequities in our culture, some incredible things can happen.

The other is an exchange I had with a woman in Wisconsin after hearing the last Zoom session I did with Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor a year or so ago. Arnita mentioned one of the questions she likes to ask people who want to discuss race with her is, “How are you stewarding your privilege?” Their response to the question gives her insight into the potential direction and value of an ongoing conversation.

Could help me to understand what it means to steward my white privilege?  I am looking at identifying the many ways I have white privilege which in itself eye opening. I am having difficulty understanding how I would steward those privileges. I feel as if I am getting into the weeds with this. Could you help me to understand?

Here is my response:  

“What a great question! Learning to steward our privilege is a learning experience. First, we’ve got to recognize we have one. Then, instead of feeling guilty, we steward it by helping marginalized groups have the same privilege we enjoy. How we do that depends on who we are and what influence we have. It may be as simple as an encouraging word or a cup of cold water or venturing the difficult communication with someone who is being racially dismissive.

“What it means for each of us has to be discovered, not explained. Ask Father about it. Ask him to show you as your life unfolds during the day. Build some relationships with marginalized people and ask them for ideas that they think would be helpful coming from you.

I love that you’re exploring this. You’ll learn lots.”

She responded:

I can do that. Ask him to show me and watch for things to unfold. I also really love what you said here, “Build some relationships with marginalized people and ask them for ideas that they think would be helpful coming from you.” Especially the part of asking someone for ideas that they think would be helpful coming from me. That really fits, because I don’t know. If I pretend to know I’ll really be in the weeds slopping around.  Asking someone for ideas that they think would be helpful speaks of adventure and discovery.

I wrote a long list of my white privilege. Some of them blew my mind. The more I wrote the more I uncovered. Sure, I’m not done with that list, but it’s a start. I’ve got to say I did cry through part of the process. Not sure if it’s guilt or sorrow. Whatever it is I’m going to trust it. I can feel him in this with me, so I’m going to trust the tears.

I love that she thought through how her whiter skin has opened doors for her that others might not have the same access because of their skin tone. Proximity, courage, compassion, and integrity on the part of people like us are so vital if we’re going to make a dent in the racial angst of our culture since our political leaders are too polarizing to do anything about it themselves.

No Better Place to Be

There’s probably not a week that goes by or a trip I take where these two questions don’t come up. This email asked them as succinctly and clearly as they’ve ever been asked. I thought some of you might also be interested in the answers. I hope that someday I’ll be able to travel somewhere and not have these questions come up. Religion has put so much fear into humanity that we miss the more critical things Scripture teaches us—that the Father behind all this is incredibly trustworthy to sort out all things with love and justice we can’t even imagine.

The message of salvation is that there is no safer place for us to be than in the palm of his hand, yielding to his desires for us.

If God loves people so much, then why does He not stop horrible things from happening to them? As for this first question, I am mostly at peace in my heart. Scriptures, the voice of the Holy Spirit, your writings and podcasts—all of these things have played a huge role in helping me understand that horrible things happen to people as a result of living in a fallen world, not because God sits by and “allows” them. In my own experience, I’ve seen what God is able to accomplish in us through these difficulties that probably would not be accomplished any other way. I still hurt for people who have experienced more pain, abuse, and heartache than I could ever imagine. But the Holy Spirit helps to direct my thoughts on these things now, even though my human ability to understand is limited.

That’s a timeless question and difficult to answer. We’re trying to put human-sized brains into a God-sized reality. There’s something about the gravity of pain in our world that draws people to him, and there’s something about free will on a planet he gave us that makes us victims of the free will of others. It is the source of evil in the world, and evil does have consequences even for innocent victims. And some people bear a disproportionate weight of that pain. We are assured that his love is bigger than anything this world can deal out to us and that he can work good out of very tragic events, until the end when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God! What a great day that will be when Jesus gets the last word on everyone and everything. He just hasn’t had it yet.

In the meantime, when you know others who suffer more deeply than you do, don’t seek an answer in trying to figure out if they have deserved this in some way. Instead, find a way for you to lighten their load, salve their pain, and provide for them. Handle your struggles inside his love and help others with their suffering by inviting them inside your love. That’s all we know, but it’s enough to get up today and go out and love in the world.

I’m confident enough in God’s love and character now that I don’t let it eat away at me. In fact, I’m able to hold it fearlessly before the Lord and ask Him to help me understand. But I’d still really like to hear your thoughts on it. It’s one of the things my husband says drove him to question, and ultimately walk away from, God. If God loves people so much, how can He send people to hell who have never even been given the chance to accept or reject Christ? People in remote places who’ve never heard even the name Jesus, as well as people in populated places who have experienced so much pain (abuse, neglect, etc.) that they have absolutely no frame of reference to connect with a loving God. See, when I encounter this pain, I am almost in a panic to get out there and spread the love of Jesus, so people can know how real it is. But then I become completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in need of this. And that’s when I’m faced with this question. There are so many people. Will Jesus make Himself known to every person somehow, in some way?

Your question is based on a number of assumptions that I am not convinced are true.

(a) God doesn’t send people to hell. He is doing everything he can to rescue people out of it. Hell is not God’s punishment; it is the culmination of sin’s destructive power. He’s the rescuer in the story, not the punisher.

(b) Who knows how many are lost to destruction, and how many turn their hearts to him in the face of death? I’ve seen and read countless stories of people turning to him at their last breath. So, we just don’t know how many he gets to redeem even at the very end.

(c) With a loving and just God, I’m sure everyone will have their chance however God makes himself known to them. I don’t think it is up to us, but at the same time letting his light shine through us to others opens a wider door for them to come to know him. So, we’re part of it, just not the whole part, or even the biggest part. I also know that sharing God with the world through our panicked fear will not win them anyway to his heart. Notice that Jesus didn’t do anything like that when he was here. He stayed in one relatively small area, sharing with those God had given him. Those at rest in his love and confident in his work are in the best place to present the Gospel to others around them.

And (d) as to the existence of hell itself, I don’t claim to have the after-life all sorted out anymore. The Scriptures on heaven and hell are some of the most difficult to interpret, and while some of them seem to contradict each other, I know that can’t be true. I believe Scripture is describing a reality too marvelous for us to understand from our limited perspective here. So we see hints of the joys of eternity and the consequences of sin’s devastation. But I wonder if heaven is really about mansions and streets of gold and if hell is a place of eternal torment for unregenerate humanity. Revelation calls it a “second death.” Could it be where the devil and his host are contained and others consumed? I don’t think Scripture is crystal clear on any of that.

What I have come to know through the Scripture is a Father wise and gracious enough that I can entrust all to him. He is so incredibly loving, so full of wisdom and righteousness, and so committed to justice that when we finally see how it all plays out, we will turn to each other and say, “Wasn’t that the most incredible way he could have done it? We’ll see he was loving and just all in a way we would never conceive. Every factor was accounted for, and he has proved himself to be the God above all Gods, abounding in lovingkindness that mercy and endures forever.”

That really is enough for me to lay all these questions and all the others I have in his hands. He is the potter after all, and we are the clay. He’s promised us enough wisdom and grace to navigate each day’s challenges, but not to answer all our fears and curiosities about the future.

The more we know him as the Father he is, the less any unanswered question will disrupt us.

Voices from Ukraine

My post yesterday brought a load of response from people in the know about what the Ukrainians are facing and how you can best help them.  Check the comments in my previous blog if you want to hear about other places you can send funds.

First, this is from Timmy, the friend who coordinated my trip to Ukraine in 2018. He has been engaged with the people there for over twenty-six years:

Reliant, is sending 100% of all donations to Ukraine. I am one of two people giving primary oversight to the fund. We help with evacuations, lodging, and food for refugees, but also are helping with people who are sheltering in place. We also put resources into the hands of people who are ministering and caring for people on the frontlines. Because there are so many needs and the resources have a limit, we are trying to first care well for people within our relational circles. So far, we can still get funds to people in Ukraine immediately. Here is the link to help:  https://reliant.org/ukraine.relief.fund

He is in touch with many people throughout Ukraine and this is his summary:

It is horrific beyond words. What is shown on the news is sanitized. It is gut-wrenching to have thousands of people that you know, and hundreds of close friends in some kind of unimaginable crisis. In this day and age, we are getting real time information of friends who are in bomb shelters hearing missiles overhead and constant air raids, ones who are trying to flee and cannot get on the train or a bridge is blown out and they have to find a new a way in their car.

Thousands of people we know are hiding in bomb shelters, are living in constant danger, and many are frantically trying to flee the country. Putin has uprooted and destroyed the lives of tens of millions of people, and their suffering is immeasurable. Words cannot express how gut wrenching and heart breaking it is to know the horrors which our friends and all the people of Ukraine are experiencing.

One dear friend who was at the conference with you, sat on the border for 80 hours cramped in a cold car with his family. He is glad to have made it out, but his parents and his sister’s family are hunkered down in Kyiv amidst constant shelling, and he asks “but what now? What will we do?” Another family you know dhas had some shelling where they live in the West, but they look at what is happening with the war and prepare for the worst, while caring for as many as they can that have fled Kyiv and cities east of them.

I could go on and on with the horrible information we receive hour after hour.  Close to forty–eight million people’s lives have been completely uprooted and changed forever in the past week. We care about them and we deeply love them. We are praying and we are doing all we can to help them by raising funds, and coordinating relief to meet their needs for travel, housing, food, and basic necessities. You can help them at the Reliant fund:  https://reliant.org/ukraine.relief.fund

This email came in today from one of the Ukrainian families I met there who live in the western side of Ukraine. This is :

It is the 8th day of the war. It seems to us that this is the 8th week. Half an hour ago I talked to my brother-in-law, who is the pastor of the church in Kharkiv. His family is now in Poland, and he himself remained in Kharkiv. It has been heavily bombed. People are dying. A man and a woman died today on the way to the maternity hospital. She was to give birth to twins. The children were saved by doctors, but they are orphans from birth.

Many people are hiding from the bombing of Russian planes at subway stations. Alexander said that this is a poignant spectacle. The whole floor of the station is filled with people sitting, lying down, eating … People are upset and depressed. Putin and his demons continue to convince their people that the Ukrainian military is doing this.

Yesterday, I asked the Lord how much more we have to endure and I understood the following. We must endure this terrible war until the full enlightenment of all the people of Ukraine and all Western countries comes. Many Ukrainians before this war sympathized with Putin and Russia. In a few days the situation changed dramatically.

Western countries flirted with Putin, and used him as a prostitute to satisfy their business interests. We hope that the whole civilized world has seen. Of course, the enlightenment of the Russians is yet to come, but I hope that we will no longer have to endure the bombing because of them. Only God can give them insight.

This day passed quietly for our region. We continue to help refugees reach the borders, looking for those who can accept them in Europe. Today, the military in the city was provided with water and food. We pray unceasingly and believe that the Lord will give us victory.

Our whole family, church and Ukraine are infinitely grateful to you for your prayers and all your help.

Relationships that Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Characteristics of the Deluded

No one wants to live inside of lies. All of us are doing the best we can with what we believe is true. But what if the light we think we have is actually darkness.  Jesus warned us that when you treat the darkness in you as if it is light, that darkness will overwhelm you. (Matthew 6:23)

I’ve lived most of my life deluded.  First, by the lies of sin that promised a fulfillment it couldn’t bring, then by false religious teaching that God needed me to perform well to earn his love and blessing. It’s only in the last twenty-five years that I’ve watched God slowly help me recognize the difference between what is true inside of him and what is not true inside myself. It has been an amazing journey and it’s still ongoing. I continue to wake up to the increasing light in my journey and continue to shed the lies that have sought to control me.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched many people I know sink into darkness, genuinely believing the lies of politicians, alleged dreams and visions of religious leaders who don’t know my Father’s heart, and Internet posts from Russian troll farms and QAnon. I am convinced that a great delusion has gone into the world to disempower God’s people. These are people I love, and to watch them manipulated by a clever deception that appeals to their fears and hopes makes my heart hurt.

I know how easy it is to misinterpret the times especially when we feel afraid and vulnerable. It isn’t easy to watch your culture move away from the moral underpinnings you prefer or to feel despised, ignored, and belittled by the national media or called “deplorables” by leftist politicians. It makes it easy to gravitate toward those who offer easy answers and not realize that the freedom we cherish cannot come at the expense of oppressing others we don’t like.

Of course, I know many think I’m the one who is deluded. All you have to do is look at the comments many made to my Facebook post in the aftermath of the insurrection at the Capitol last week, and how President Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election have triggered the fears and anger of many people. I was accused of all sorts of things, told I was deceived, and even had my faith questioned. Don’t feel badly for me. People’s attempts to shame or manipulate me don’t have a place to land in me anymore. I am more concerned for the pain that causes them to lash out so carelessly.

I listen carefully, because I don’t consider myself above a few well-placed delusions myself. That’s why I’m in constant conversations with people locally and around the world about these things to check my thoughts as to whether they are flowing from Jesus’ heart or my own thoughts. And, if it turns out I’m wrong about any of this, I’ll get to admit it, to apologize, and change accordingly.

We all have to live by the light we have, but we also need to ensure that the light we think we have is light. There are extremist groups right and left that want to use the polarization in our culture to tear us apart, but I thought almost all of my evangelical friends would think an armed assault on the Capitol was a bridge too far.  Apparently, for many it wasn’t.  Neither is it enough to know that those who claimed God told them through dreams, prophecies, or a voice that President Trump would win a second term were prophesying their own hopes, not God’s.

I’m not writing this article for those of you who have yet to see through this delusion. Time will tell, you know. It always does. Lies never stand up to reality, but that may take awhile to sort out. I’m writing this for people who are questioning their own conclusions and wondering what God sees in all of this. How can we know when events unfold if we’re being lured into a delusion or finding a way into the truth?

This is why character is so important to me. When I gauge another person’s perspective, I take stock of the fruit of their life. I tend to distrust the voices of fearful, angry people, who mock and make accusations when people disagree with them. I look for those who demonstrate a passion for what’s true, humility in their own exploration of it, and generosity toward others with whom they disagree. They take the search for truth seriously, but hold it lightly realizing no one has a corner on it, especially them. They live confidently inside what they know, but are always open to new evidence that might change their perception of truth

Over a lifetime of wrestling with truth in my own heart and decades of helping others heal from involvement in religious cults, political manipulations, and toxic relationships, I have observed these seven characteristics in people who are unknowingly living under delusion:

First, they see their side as all good, and other side as all evil.

They don’t realize that humanity is a mix both of the honorable and dishonorable and that is reflected in each of us as well. I liked many of the policies President Trump put in place but at the same time I was dismayed at his arrogance and toxicity in working with others, even on his own staff. In my Facebook comment section last week, you’ll see people say that those in the Capitol were from Antifa, that their side wouldn’t do that. When those arrested all turned out to be Trump supporters, then the story shifted to that’s how frustrated the other side has made us. We’re all a mix. Some of our intentions are good and some are selfish and we’re not always the best ones to sort that out, but sort it out we must.

Second, someone expressing disagreement makes them visibly angry.

I think this is true because intuitively they know they are caught in something that isn’t quite true, so feeling threatened makes them angry. They lash out with false accusations and attempts to shame others as a way to bolster their confidence. If they were truly confident, however, they wouldn’t resort to such things. Disagreement never puts someone beyond the reach of love and kindness unless you’re insecure.

Third, they refuse to consider that they might be wrong.

Honest questions threaten the false comfort they have built for themselves. It’s like the young girl who falls in love with her dreamy boyfriend. She thinks he can do no wrong. And even after he hits her, or cheats on her, she will blame herself for ticking off the dreamy boyfriend, rather than reconsider whether her knight on a white horse may not be such a knight after all. If you’re growing, you are always wondering where you might be wrong and learning what you can to bring your life more in line with his.

Fourth, they eliminate conflicting inputs.

All cults isolate people from family and friends and other groups because they know the delusion is so fragile it won’t stand up to real life. They can’t be around people who question them and must get their version of “accurate” information from approved sources. This is why both right and left advocates have ended up in separate media silos. They can only read what affirms their bias. Truth is not that fragile. Growth-minded people question their conclusions every day as they pick up new information and grow inside the truth God is giving to them over a lifetime.

Fifth, they believe in the infallibility of their leader or their own thinking.

They embrace every word from their pastor, author, political leader, or guru not realizing that we are all flawed. No one speaks with absolute truth, even if they quote a Scripture or cite a dream as proof. If you give the aura of infallibility to anyone, you are only hiding from your own need of discernment.

Sixth, they cast aspersions on people’s faith or motives that won’t agree with them.

This is truly a defensive position. When they can no longer answer your questions, they will attack you or question your relationship with God. Assuming you know someone else’s motives is particularly heinous since no one can disprove their motives. They can’t keep the conversation about ideas because they are afraid their arguments will not hold up.

Seventh, they justify their bad behavior by pointing out how bad their opponents are.

No, President Trump has not been fairly treated by Democratic leadership but for the most part he has played into their hands as well.  I get this from a political standpoint, but for those of us who claim to be ambassadors of a different kingdom, we can’t take our cues from the worst examples among us. Just because I’m unfairly treated does not give me the right to do the same to others. Jesus called us to love in the face of attack, to lay down our lives for the good of the other, not to demand our own way.

If you want to know the truth about these things, you will. God’s Spirit is faithful to reveal it to those looking for it. The last word on all this has not yet been written. Something of God is afoot in all of this inviting the tenderhearted out of the delusions that have disfigured them. It may hurt a bit when that happens, but the fruit of living in God’s reality is worth whatever cost it takes to get there. I pray all of us will have eyes to see and ears to hear what he is saying in all of this.

Torn Between Two Titles

I’m finishing up my newest book, which I have tentatively called The Phenomenon of the Dones. I’ve written these chapters as part of my blog over the last two years and posted the last chapter, To the Saints Scattered…, a few weeks ago. Now I’m going through and revising all the chapters as well as rearranging them to make it flow better. I hope to have it available early in 2018 as an e-book and printed book.

But lately I’ve been reconsidering the title. Since “The Dones” as a term has not really caught on in the wider faith culture, I’m considering switching the title to Beyond Sundays.  So, I want to use my readers here as a focus group.  Do you have a preference, and if so why?  Reading your thoughts and comments, either here on the blog or on my Facebook page will help me sort out the best way to go here.

So, which do you think would be most helpful to find it’s audience?

Option 1:

The Phenomenon of the Dones
Why Those Giving Up on the Traditional Congregation May Not Be Bad News for the Church

 

Option 2:

Beyond Sundays
Pursuing a Life in Jesus Outside the Traditional Congregation

Thoughts, anyone?

I’m torn between the two, so I would appreciate hearing how these hit some of you.