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When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
(John 16:8)

Some things in life are better explored than explained such as an alpine trail lined with wildflowers, the Basilica Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the shoreline of Galilee, or even chocolate ice cream. Explanations just can’t do them justice.

The same is true of a relationship to God. It can be explained to death, literally. We quote Scriptures, memorize cute aphorisms, and read books trying to understand it. We have sought to understand him with our heads and missed the joy of discovering how God makes himself known, and how his purpose in the world is revealed each day. Many who can talk about God in eloquent terms have no idea how to live in him with grace and affection through the difficult challenges of living in a broken world. They have never explored it.

Perhaps the most significant proof of this, other than what I’ve observed with people, is drawn from the way Jesus lived. He walked this out very differently than we try to. For instance, he wasn’t preoccupied with a Sunday meeting or building an institution he called church. He was more interested in letting the reality of the kingdom flow through him in the encounters he had each day. It’s why he could spend an afternoon with a woman at a well, or on the hillsides above Galilee with a large crowd.

It’s incredible to me that we don’t seem to take much note of that. We act as if Jesus went to church every week to sing songs and listen to a lecture. He did no such thing, and, no, that’s not what going to the synagogue was like. He didn’t he tell his disciples that’s what he wanted them to do every week. As far as we know, he never organized a single meeting, except for serving the Passover in the upper room, and even that didn’t take him long.

He seemed to wake up every day and navigate the circumstances and choices of his life with an eye to his Father’s unfolding purpose in the world. He shared the kingdom with others freely even as he sought to help the disciples learn to do it too. Even there, he didn’t hold an extensive array of classes teaching them all the intricacies of God’s attributes nor the mechanics of the kingdom of God. He didn’t offer them outlines of God’s characteristics or teach them a process for letting God’s power work through them. He didn’t offer them a curriculum, he let them watch it in his own life and explore that new reality in their own. He was offering them a different way to live—in a Father’s love, in power greater than their own efforts, in the growing simplicity of learning to trust his love.

He knew you couldn’t learn those things in a classroom or from a book. Real life has to be explored, and he encouraged them to do so—to ask questions, to struggle with their own fleshly ambitions, and to taste the power of his Spirit. At times, he even sent them to discover that they could pass the life of the kingdom on to others.

It is evident to me now that he wanted them to explore the kingdom, not analyze it. He knew they could only understand it by experiencing it, not by reducing it to a set of facts or propositions. The people I know who live most freely in the kingdom are those who are discovering it, not in seminars and classes, but in the circumstances of their own lives—a woman betrayed by her husband, a man who’s lost his job because of lies told about him, a mother whose son was convicted of murder, or a child tempted to betray his conscience for the approval of his friends. I am often asked if I have a discipleship curriculum I can recommend to others, or at least a resource to help them know the Lord better.

The curriculum for your journey is not in the Bible or some workbook based on the Bible. I know this gets me labeled as a heretic by some, but the curriculum for God’s work in you is in the Spirit himself. That’s why Jesus said that he would send the Comforter and he would guide us into all truth. He didn’t say he’d send us a book to follow, because you cannot follow a book. He didn’t entrust it to religious leaders. His Spirit alone can show us how to engage God in the reality you live every day.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m a Bible guy. All the wisdom we need is in God’s revelation of himself, but it is the Spirit that helps us make sense of his words as they fit into our experience. I know people well-learned in the Scriptures, who can argue theology with precision, but who have no life flowing in them. And, I know people who live by their feelings, thinking their every whim is the Spirit’s direction. They both flounder because in the end, we are still interpreting our own journey, instead of learning to listen and rely on his indwelling Spirit.

Jesus didn’t tell us to live by our intellect or feelings alone, but by a growing sensitivity to the leading of his Spirit. And where does he make himself known? In the unfolding events of your life. Look no further than in the circumstances that already surround you and the internal thoughts you have in dealing with them. How can you love the people around you the way Father wants them loved? What is he showing you the things that perplex you, cause you anxiety, or distract you from the life you truly want to live. I’ve come to conclude that the best way to learn how to live in the Father’s kingdom is by exploring it one day at a time.

How is he revealing himself to you today? What is he asking of you, if anything? Ask him to show you. Carve out time regularly that will take you away from the hustle and bustle of life to listen for him and look for him, letting his thoughts percolate to the top of your own. Seek him in prayer, not as a ritual to be rewarded, but learning to converse with One who loves you deeply and wants to show you the best way to navigate the circumstances in your life. This is where Scripture becomes incredibly valuable as you probe God’s thoughts with his words. Then, follow him as best you see him, learning by trial and error what is the voice of the Spirit and what are your own ambitions.

Taste and see that the Lord is good, that his ways are far better than ours. Come and learn that the impressions you so quickly reject because they don’t make sense, are actually his nudging you into greater freedom. Discover just how loved you are. You can hear it explained until your mind is numb, but you can only discover it when you explore it, even entrusting your unresolved questions to him.

Embrace that, not only for yourself but in helping others with their journey as well. Rather than trying to explain it all to them, coach them on how to explore it with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Upcoming Travel

March 29-30 – Morgantown, WV
March 31 – Trafford, PA (Pittsburgh)
April 26-28 – Tjome, Norway (Tonsberg)
April 29-May 3 – Pescara, Italy
May 3-5 – Dinhard ,Switzerland (Zurich)
May 6-8 – Vallorbe, Switzerland

I am also planning on going to Kenya and Uganda this summer as well as in discussions about visits to Florida, southern Illinois, Atlanta again, among other places, You can keep checking my Travel Schedule, or if you’d like to be notified if I’m planning to visit your area, you can sign up on our email listand include your address <http://eepurl.com/bJ43Ar>.

In Case You Missed it…

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

Podcasts at TheGodJourney.com:

Wayne’s blog at Lifestream.org

The post Far Better Explored Than Explained appeared first on LifestreamWayne Jacobsen.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was in Eureka, and someone read this portion of my book, Beyond Sundays, to me. They wanted to make some comments from it and ask me some questions. As they read it, I was reminded of how much I like this passage and how much it fits my heart.

Any title you wear be it pastor, best-selling author, or Done will do more to separate you from others than it will help you recognize the incredible family that Jesus is building. Claiming a label works against his prayer that his Father would make us one. The community of the new creation levels our humanity—from hierarchy and from our narcissistic notions of being in a better group than others. We are all sons and daughters of a gracious Father and that’s all the identity we need. (Matt. 23:5-12)

But once again, we risk being divided into “innies” and “outies” and falling into the false dichotomy our flesh so craves. Whether you go to “a church” or whether you don’t is a distinction without a difference. What matters is whether people are following Jesus and being transformed by his love. What I hope comes out of this study of the so-called “Dones” is those inside and those out recognize that the church is bigger than most of us would dare to believe and that his church takes expression wherever people engage each other with his love and purpose.

For those who claim that attendance at a local congregation is mandatory to be part of his church I hope they reconsider that false idea. Being part of his family is about following him not belonging to an institution. Over the last twenty years, I’ve found incredible followers of Jesus both inside them and outside. I hope this research draws all those into a conversation where “in” or “out” becomes less important than loving and affirming his kingdom however it takes shape in the world. But it will take a significant number of voices across the Christian landscape to fight for a better conversation than those we usually have.

I am convinced that people who truly know Jesus will want to reach across this divide, not exacerbate it. We don’t need identifying labels, especially ones that make us feels superior to others in the family. When Jesus becomes more important to us than finding identity in any particular tribe of it, then the conversations that most express his kingdom will grow in the world. Instead of demanding that others conform to our view of the church we will recognize her in the most surprising places as we find connection and fellowship with those who know the Jesus we know, even if they don’t follow the rituals we follow.

Then we won’t need labels to divide us. Brother, sister, and fellow saint will be more than enough identity for each of us and loving each other in a mutual celebration of Jesus himself will allow his church to flourish where we live.

Recently, I was in a conversation where every question or comment was about the church. People were looking for a model or at least validation for how they were doing ‘it.’ Something happened over the last couple of centuries that has made us more preoccupied with how we’re doing church than we how we are following Jesus. I remember that trap well myself; it’s how religion has become more important than Jesus to so many of us. I paused to ask them how often Jesus used the word “church” (2 times) in the Gospels and contrasted it with how many times Jesus mentions his “kingdom” (121 times). Maybe if we were more preoccupied with his kingdom coming than we are about how we do church, we would see more of both.

Last week, I was in the Tulsa area with people who varied widely in their view of “church” and their participation in it. And you know what? It didn’t matter. What we shared in common—our belief in him, our desire to love in the world, and our desire to get to know each other—was more than enough. His church is a lovely family growing in the world—one that lives by love, not labels. If you want to be part of his kingdom, don’t look to the labels you wear or those others do, but for the fragrance of Father flowing from their lives.

Anyone who finds more identity in their institutional affiliation or lack of it, their doctrine or lack of it, their ritual or lack of it, proves by doing so that they have yet to find their identity and validation in Jesus and their relationship with him. Can you imagine what we would demonstrate to the world if we were lovers of Jesus and each other, first and only? Isn’t that what he asked of us in John 13:34-35? By that, he said, the whole world would come to know we are his followers.

The post Let’s Stop Living by Our Labels appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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The email below is one of the best I’ve received because I know it comes out of real struggle and pain and into a reality that is available to all of us.

I started corresponding with Amy this summer, first over a crisis that happened at work, and then with trouble in her marriage. In her first email, she signed off  ‘Confused,’ in her second, ‘Heartbroken and Stunned.’ It has been an amazing eight months for her, but through it all, Jesus helped her discover the life that is life:

After telling me he no longer loves me, my husband left me in September of last year, and we are still separated. The last several months (8 months since he told me he no longer believes in God, 5 months since he left me) have been the most excruciatingly painful, yet spectacularly amazing, months I ever could have imagined. The freedom you talk and write about…it’s real.

I took your book He Loves Me! on a whim from the library at the church my husband and I were attending several years ago. I brought it home but never opened it…until June 24, 2018, when my world came crashing down around me. Since then, I have read it at least seven times and have sent 8 copies to friends and family members. Father is using that little book to change the lives of many, Wayne, and I’m so grateful to be one of the “many”.

There have been many moments since last June when I have wondered if “living loved” was a pipe dream. Now I know that it is not. I come from a family of Pharisees, albeit very well-intentioned ones, and the re-wiring of my understanding about God has been intensely difficult. I have experienced more heartache, more uncertainty, more insecurity, more fear…more confidence, more peace, more love, more safety, more hope…than I ever dreamed was possible. My husband claims unerringly that he is “done” with us and that there is no hope for our restoration. This from a man who treated me for sixteen years like every woman longs to be treated by her husband.

And yet, I am not destroyed by his certain distaste for me. While I can attest to the fact that emotions are extremely fickle creatures (and I certainly have run the gamut of them) I also can attest to the fact that the confidence, peace, and freedom that come from living in Father’s affection make it possible for me to rest in Him, in spite of my circumstances. I feel as if I’m living in a pocket of impenetrable grace.

I cannot thank you enough for sharing with the world, the God of love. My life and that of my Pharisaic family has been forever changed by this monumental truth—that God loves us and desires an actual relationship with us. I no longer am afraid of Him or regard Him as mean and spiteful, eager to destroy the very people He created. I no longer (even subconsciously) think I have to “earn” His affection or approval.

Ironically, since I stopped “trying” to produce fruit and started living in the certainty of His affection for me, I am shocked at the fruit HE is producing!!! WOW! Who’d have thought?!? I only wish that I could go back in time and know Him like this from the beginning. Perhaps then I would have known how to love my husband the way God wants him to be loved. Regardless, I am learning to surrender even that to His capable hands. He is completely trustworthy; of this I am certain.

God bless you, brother. I hope I meet you in person one day to thank you for showing me the way to the real Jesus.

I love that. He is real, especially in the darkest places. This life in Christ can help us overcome any wicked curveballs this world may throw at us and draw us into the fullness of his joy and hold us there.

To do that, however, we have to give up our agenda and expectations for the outcome we desire. When we pray for the result we want, It’s easy to grow disappointed when God doesn’t do it, or even begin to doubt that he loves us at all. That could have happened here. Amy could have spent the last five months begging God to bring her husband back and feeling unloved when he didn’t. I’m sure she asked, but when it didn’t happen, she discovered a love that was bigger than the outcome she wanted.

God won’t make her husband come back against his will; he isn’t like that. Isn’t it glorious that our peace and security don’t rest in the circumstance we want, but in the Father who loves us more than anyone on this planet ever has or ever will?

The post Living Loved Is Real! appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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I get so many emails from people trying to find a group of like-minded people or frustrated with the current political climate in which our country finds itself. These are troubled times indeed, but we are part of a kingdom that transcends everything in this age. Our God is working behind it all for his glory and to bring history to a glorious conclusion as the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Christ and of his Father.

It’s easy to forget some time that he is with us, too, working out his purpose in each of our lives. So quickly we get our eyes on people or our circumstances and forget that we are not alone in any of it. No, we don’t always get our way, but there is always a path to take that yields to the glory of his kingdom and how it takes shape in us.

This quote from a recent Time Magazine article spawned some of our discussion last week on The God Journey Podcast.

Unless you’re among the tiny group of people who exercise actual, substantial political authority, each of us can only have a large influence on a small number of people and a small influence on a large number of people. In other words, we have the potential to transform a life. We have minimal capacity to individually change American politics.

From Why Anger is a Wasted Emotion by David French

Man, I can raise my hand here. It may feel good to berate the idiocy of our national leaders, but to what end? How much time and emotional energy do we give to circumstances over which we have no control or influence? Social media provides yet another illusion that our voice on the big-ticket items of politics or religion can really make a difference, and then are frustrated when it doesn’t.  What I love about the quote above is that it asks us to be present in the places where we can make a difference, which is in the lives of people right in front of us every day.

Who do you know that brightens your heart when you spend time with them? Who do you know in need whose day you can brighten? What conversations can you have today that will move the needle in someone’s life? Who could you reach out an encourage today instead of reading the end of thisstis blog?

That’s where our attention needs to be. I’m afraid the enemy has us wasting so much time venting on things that have no impact, instead of engaging the things right in front of us that do.

Somehow we’re always looking for the big moment “out there” somewhere instead of living with what Father has put right in front of us. Many keep trying to find the right group of people to fellowship with, or the best model for church life, instead of celebrating his presence in whomever we are with today. Jesus seemed

I’m finding my heart these days much more drawn to what I can impact and wasting far less time with words that merely flitter into the ether of cyberspace and are lost the moment after I push “post.” And I’m having a far richer time.

Jesus said the kingdom of God wasn’t “out there” somewhere; it’s already inside you. What you need from God today, he has already brought right to your doorstep. All you have to do today is respond to what God has already put inside you, and to whomever what’s in front of you. That’s where you’ll find life abundant and fruitful.

You might well miss it if your eyes are set “out there” over the horizon, instead of “right here” where you are today.

The post It’s Right in Front of You appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Delightfully Overwhelmed appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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A few years ago I was teaching  800 Kenyan pastors in a hornet-infested barn about the love of God. After sharing a bit of my story and laying the groundwork for living loved, I asked them what questions they might have about God’s love that we could tackle in the next view days.

Immediately the room went visibly tense. The atmosphere grew fearful and deathly quiet. It felt as if they had been threatened and all 800 glared at me with a panicked look on their face. I knew no one was going to ask a question. So, I pushed pause. I told them we were going to take a break and they could get to know the people around them. I then went to the person who had invited me and asked him what had just happened in there.

“They don’t believe you,” he said. Then he told me that the last American speaker that came through paused at one point to see if anyone had any questions. Someone dared to ask one and immediately the speaker chewed him out to silence any other potential questioners. “How dare you ask a question! I’ve explained everything to you need to know and if you don’t get it by now it’s because rebellion is in your heart.”

Ahh.  Now I understood.  As we gathered back together, I assured them that I really wanted them to ask questions, that we needed to learn together, in their time, not listen to me lecture. I promised not to get angry or defensive, but to create a safe place for us to explore God’s love together. Tentatively at first, they began to respond and their hungry questions took us to some amazing places I would not have thought to take them on my own.

Asking questions is a critical component of spiritual growth. If we can’t ask what we need to ask or struggle openly with the thoughts and questions that plague our minds, how will we ever come to know the reality of the life and love that God holds for us? In Scripture, God often asks questions to stir our thinking. In the Gospels, Jesus responded openly and warmly to the truth-seeking questions that were asked of him. Of course, some asked questions out of malice or seeking to trap him in some way, but Jesus was still patient with them. He didn’t always give them the answer they wanted, but neither did he demean them.

There is nothing more important to your own personal discipleship than having the freedom to ask the questions you need to ask. Too many of us wait for someone to tell us what we should know, instead of looking honestly at our circumstances and asking the questions that will help us discover God’s reality inside them. I met a man in New Zealand whose entire discipleship came about just by asking questions. The man who led him to Christ didn’t give him a set of lessons to teach him to follow God. He just told his newfound friend to ask whatever question he wanted and he would try to answer it as best he could, or that they would find the answer together. Brilliant! That man grew up in a deep and sincere faith. That’s a great way to teach someone, inside their own questions and their own experiences. That’s how his Spirit works in us.

I’m thinking about this because I had lunch with a couple in their sixties who had attended a two-year Bible school in Florida a few years back. On the opening day of class, they were told questions wouldn’t be allowed through their course of study. They would be told what they needed to know and they did not allow students to ask questions of their instructors. I was dumbfounded. How could any school, especially one based on the life of Jesus, not allow people to explore openly. As horrible as that might be for people in the 50s and 60s, it’s especially horrible for students in their teens and twenties who think they are going to teach that stuff to others.

Most of the meetings I’m in these days give a maximum amount of opportunity for people to ask questions, explore the frustrations of their own journey, and really learn what it means to know him and follow him. The kingdom of God can withstand any the honesty of our struggles and the questions we need to ask. It’s hard enough to get Christians to ask questions to begin with. Most of us have been taught there’s a right answer to everything and if you don’t know it already, it’s because you’re not paying attention. Some hesitate to ask something difficult, concerned that I’ll get angry with them. I’ve even offered some groups $100 if someone makes me angry or I get defensive. I want them to know that any meeting I’m in is a safe place to discover and grow. Most of the best questions I’ve been asked came from people who were reticent to ask it because they thought no one else would care about the answer. Almost always everyone does. Don’t we appreciate the person who’s willing to ask the question everyone else wants to ask, but are too afraid to do so?

If you can’t ask questions and struggle with what someone is trying to teach you about God, then you’re not in an environment where the kingdom unfolds. If someone gets angry if you question them, or dare to disagree with them, they are not leaders who can help you discover God’s reality. And if you’re afraid to ask God any question that’s in your heart, you have yet to discover just how loving and gracious he is and how much he wants to help you understand how to live in him.

Yes, there is a difference between asking God questions and questioning God’s character or wisdom. There’s a way to ask questions with humility that will open your heart to see in a fresh way what he wants to show you, and there’s a way to challenge him defiantly that will blind you to what he wants to show you. I’ve done both. He can handle our defiance with a love that understands our pain, but until it gives way to humble surrender, we will not hear his gentle response. How can you surrender when you are angry or disappointed with him?  Only one thing sets my heart at rest, to embrace his affection for me and to mistrust my conclusions about him outside that love. That can take some time, but it will open some amazing doors in your own spiritual journey.

The post The Power of a Good Question appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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

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

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

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

The needs here are ongoing as is our support for them. If you’d like to join us, you can direct it through Lifestream as contributions are tax-deductible in the U.S. As always, every dollar you send goes to the need in Kenya. We do not (nor do they) take out any administrative or money transfer fees. If you would like to be part of this to support these brothers and sisters and see the gospel grow in this part of Africa, please see our Sharing With the World page at Lifestream. You can either donate with a credit card there, or you can mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1 • Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

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

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

We appreciate your help in the Kitale area:

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

Utensil stand to keep kitchen supplies clean

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

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

Outhouses for each home in Pokot

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

Children enjoying the new crops they are raising

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

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

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

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

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

The people of Pokot

The post Upcoming Travel and Kenya Update appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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My good friend in Tulsa, Tom Mohn, says that betrayal is one of those amazing things God uses to shape his life in us. I know it doesn’t feel like it. It more likely feels like the end of road when someone you love, and whom you thought loved you, decides his own word is meaningless, and you are of less value to him that what he can gain by lying to you or lying about you. Most often it takes both.

I’ve gone through this with three different people in my life and it is the absolute worst. The first time cost me everything—my involvement with a congregation I’d helped to plant, my salary, my health insurance, my reputation in a community, and countless friendships I treasured—and this was all two weeks before Christmas in 1994. I wasn’t offered a dime of severance pay, just an avalanche of lies about my family.

I wish I’d known Tom back then and had seen more hope in what was going on, but those days were the darkest Sara and I have every experienced. We thought we were following Jesus in it all, but we weren’t sure. Maybe we were as independent and rebellious as others said we were. I remember telling God if we were, then shout it from the rooftops. Let everyone know including me, because I only wanted to follow him even I was proved wrong.

I know Jesus said that such times are an amazing blessing in our lives, but to get there you really have to think with a deeper mindset than your own physical comfort.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.  (Matthew 5:10-12, The Message)

I know that sounds like crazy talk. It did when my dad read those words to me a few weeks into my betrayal. But, I began to let them sink into my heart and began to count myself blessed even when it didn’t feel like it. I found a way to rejoice in the fact that people had lied about me and thrown me out because I was seeking to follow him. And it became true that going through that betrayal opened some incredible doors that Sara and I have treasured for the last quarter century. The betrayal of our close friends drove us deeper into God and our freedom from a human-centered view of ‘church’ allowed us to begin to taste the Church that Jesus is building in the world.

So, now I do know that betrayal is not the end of the road. It hurts, most certainly. And unfortunately, it is a common theme in human history and the biblical record. Abel knew it, so did Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Paul, and many others including, of course, Jesus himself. No, that doesn’t justify the acts of the betrayer, but I prefer to leave them in Jesus’ hands, where they are best served. I don’t know what goes on inside someone that allows them to make those kinds of choices, nor the consequences they suffer for putting money, power, fame, sex, or the illusion of safety above love and friendship. I do know how living a lie warps you from the inside in some horrible ways and it makes my heart hurt for them.

A number of years ago I had someone else steal a significant amount of money from me by not honoring an agreement we had made together. Even reminding him of our agreement only provoked his anger. In the aftermath of that encounter Jesus told me to let it go and he would make up whatever I had lost. Fortunately, I did and he proved faithful in all he promised me, and more.  I am so grateful I followed him rather than demanding what was rightfully mine.

So, if you’ve been betrayed by someone, invite Jesus into that pain. He understands. He’s been through everything you’re going through and much more!  He is able to work beyond the failures of others and to continue to let grace have its unfolding work in our hearts. Betrayal may close some doors, but it also opens us to other opportunities we might have missed otherwise. Getting through betrayal with Jesus also changes something deep inside us so we are tuned more compassionately to the needs of others and the value of being a faithful friend.

This all comes up because I wasn’t interviewed a few weeks ago by Jon DeWall of Liminal Space. He does a podcast about life transition and wanted to hear my story of betrayal and how Sara and I managed to get through it alongside Jesus. It dropped last week and I wanted to let you know it was available if you wanted to listen to it.  You can find it on their website or these podcasts outlets:  iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or Google Play.

Even if you don’t listen, when you find yourself being betrayed by someone close to you, just remember Jesus has a way to walk you through the pain and into wider pastures than you ever thought possible.

The post Betrayal Is Not the End of the Road appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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[This is a copy of our December 2018 Email Blast. If you’re not on our list you can sign up here. And if you include your name and address you’ll also receive email notification if Wayne is traveling in your area.]

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.

(Psalm 118:14)

What do you think the Psalmist meant when he wrote that? Did he mean the Lord was his get-out-of-hell-free card to secure his final destiny? No, he didn’t.

When a desperate, young mother is trapped by the abusiveness of her husband and the needs of her children, is a get-out-of-hell-free card the salvation she needs? Of course not. What she needs is a friend to come alongside her and show her the way through that situation to safety and life. Anyone who does that for her is her salvation.

“The Lord is my salvation,” is not just a statement of our eternal destiny; it is our hope in this broken age that he has a way through whatever life can throw at us and whatever sin seeks to destroy in us, and he can teach us how to follow him into that freedom.

Nothing has distracted Christians more from the true mission of Christ in the world than the misunderstanding that he only came to determine whether we go to heaven or hell. He didn’t. He came to rescue us from perishing in the bondage and deception of this evil age and show us the path to true life and freedom. In doing so, he also showed us how to give that same journey to others.

For us, that means that we are not alone in anything life hurls at us and that every resource of wisdom and power in our Father is available to us at any moment of the day. That’s the kingdom of God, and Jesus came into the world to invite us into that reality every day that we live.

How do we tap that resource? Is praying for an answer enough? Would that it was. I’m sure you know countless people, like I do, who have sought God desperately at moments of need and been hopelessly disappointed by his seeming inactivity on their behalf. I’m sure it’s happened for you, too. Where did we get the idea that we would just call out to God and he’d wave his magic wand to turn all our pumpkins into chariots?

Honestly, I’m sure I’d just use that power to get me into even more trouble because if I just use it even to satisfy my best intentions it would only destroy me. Jesus offered us something so much better than a fairy-godmother in the sky.

He offered us a different way to live, inside a relationship with him and his Father by the power of the Spirit that would open the door into the realm in which our Father dwells. By embracing him there we would begin to see everything differently and he would begin to change us from the inside, away from our self-focused bias to embrace the highest purpose God holds for his Creation. In that relationship, he would teach us how to walk in this age as lights of another kingdom. In other words, he didn’t offer us answers for our problems, but the opportunity to live inside a different reality that would save us from the destruction of this age and bring his wisdom and love to bear on others.

The kingdom of God is here! All the wisdom and power of God is at your disposal, as you come to know him and learn to follow him. That relationship will challenge everything you think you know to be true. It will unmask your deceptions, expose your selfish ambitions, and invite you down pathways you’d never consider without him. But with him, they will lead to unimaginable depths of discovery and freedom.

If just praying about our needs doesn’t make that happen, what will? We find his way by actually following him. There really is no substitute for that. That’s why Jesus came. We don’t celebrate the Incarnation by attending another Christmas pageant or putting another string of lights on the tree. We celebrate it by leaning into the reality he paid so much to give us. His Incarnation was the example of how Father wanted to walk alongside us. His death on the cross obliterated the sin and shame that made us too fearful and too intimidated to sit at his feet and learn his ways. His resurrection empowered us to share the same relationship with him that Jesus had.

Salvation is found in following him, in this life, and yes to life beyond as well. There’s nothing sadder to me than someone desperately wanting God’s help in their life, but just waiting for God to fix it. He’s inviting them to follow him, to recognize what’s really true about the circumstance they are in and respond not out of the flesh but in the reality of his kingdom. Isn’t it amazing that we find more comfort in trying to find an answer in the right book or seminar, when the Spirit of God dwells in us to guide us into truth and to empower us with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead?

He wants you to know him, to see into the reality of how God regards you and the situation you’re in, then you’ll know how to follow him.  That’s all the salvation you will ever need. He can take you through anything and change you in the process to be more like him and to think more like he thinks.

That’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1-2) Jesus opened a door for us to see and experience what is really true in the universe by knowing him. Unfortunately, we spend too much time focused on things below, on our own abilities or lack of them, and on our own wisdom, thinking it is his. Or we put too much stock in religious principles and rituals that have the appearance of spirituality, but don’t help us recognize the truth of what’s going on around us.

Ask him to let you see reality through his eyes. Spend time with him, so that you know what touches his heart and how he thinks in situations. Talk with others who are also learning to follow him and let them share what they see. Be aware that what he sees will almost always be very different from what you see. His path will most likely invite you out of your comfort zone and preferred outcomes to follow him. But remember he is your salvation and there’s no safer place to be than in him.

Yes, you’ll find yourself resisting the truth like I do the first time I see it. His ways are rarely the way I’d naturally think. As we embrace his growing revelation, however, we’ll see how following him is the only way forward. Celebrate this Christmas with a prolonged gaze into the reality of our Father’s kingdom. Draw near to him and ask him to make himself known to you and pause enough to recognize the nudging of passion or wisdom he puts on your heart. Follow him as best you see him each day and watch what will unfold in your life.

This is the great adventure. You don’t have to have all the answers or all the power, you only have to follow the one who does.

Wayne and Sara with their children and grandchildren on the beach… This is how Christmas looks in Southern California.

Wayne was a Guest on Liminal Space

I was a recent guest on the Liminal Spaces Podcast called Life through Transitions Podcast. I had a great time talking with host Jon DeWaal about how God can use something as painful as betrayal to open a wider door in his kingdom.

Do You Want to Help Us In Kenya?
If you have some year-end giving to do and unsure where to send it, would you please consider our brothers and sisters in Kenya?  You can read more about what’s going on there in my recent article, The Craziest Thing I’ve Been Asked to Do. If you’d like to help as we finish up there, you can do so on our Online Giving Page.

Travel Notes for 2019

I’m currently sorting through some of my travel schedule for 2019, which at this point will include Atlanta, Eureka, Italy, and Kenya, and might include West Virginia and Southern Illinois. We’re still working on some of the early parts of the year. I’ll be in Italy at a Discipleship Training School from May 29 – April 3.  I’ve got some time on either side of that week to be elsewhere in Europe while I’m out that way. If you’d like to host something when I’m in the area, please let me know.  You can keep up with my Travel Schedule here, and if you’d like to be notified if I’m planning to visit your area, you can sign up on our email list and include your address <http://eepurl.com/bJ43Ar>.

In Cased you Missed it…

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

Podcasts at TheGodJourney.com:

Wayne’s blog at Lifestream.org

The post The Real Power of the Incarnation appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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I got to spend the weekend and then a three-hour drive with my dad this week. I realize I’m incredibly privileged to have a father like him. He was the epitome of character, integrity, graciousness, and willingness to follow God even at great risk to relationships he treasured.  I watched him be lied about by close friends and not defend himself, to be called names because he wouldn’t conform to what others wanted. This was not only my father according to the flesh, but also he is my father in the faith, setting the example of a man who would carve out time in his life to cultivate a closer relationship to Jesus, to listen to him, and to do whatever he put on his heart.

Spending time with my dad and talking over things we’re both thinking about and struggling with, is better than any book I can read, any conference I could attend, or any counselor I’d know. It is a rich, rich time that helps center my heart, shift my priorities, and adds nuggets of wisdom to my own journey.

After I dropped my dad off I spent a few hours with another friend, Dave Coleman who was my co-author on So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. I enjoy time with Dave in the same way and with the same results. Between those two men in a single day, I gleaned over 170 years of experience of learning to know who Jesus and and how to follow him. What an outstanding resource they both are! And, I know many more like them all over the world—men and women  in their 70s, 80s and 90s—who have been seasoned in walk with Jesus and picked up some amazing lessons along the way. Yet, they spend countless hours at home, alone. Few people come to visit, to ask questions, to not only offer them company but draw from their fountain of wisdom as well. And, I don’t just mean about spiritual things. These people know how to raise families, run businesses, cultivate healthy relationships, and put the welfare of others above their own.

In fact, after I left Dave’s I met with some others who know him. They asked me how he was doing. It seemed so absurd to me. I live 250 miles away and they ask me how someone is doing who lives down the street from them. “He lives right here, you know?” I asked comically, though, I was also making a point. I know Dave would love to spend time with any of them, and they would all go away, enlightened and encouraged.

A few years ago I met with Jack Gray, a ninety-year-old in New Zealand, whose life and wisdom in Christ I’ve come to appreciate deeply. The man who drove me to that appointment, joined in our conversation and after I came back home, he got a few more friends and went over to visit again and continues to because of how helpful it has been to them. Jack told me those conversations have revitalized him and he looks forward to every one.

To its detriment, our culture has diminished the wisdom of age. Yes, I know many people grow old, bitter and more reclusive, but many others don’t. It’s as if we put their vast resources of wisdom and compassion on a shelf and ignore it, all the while trying to find the right book or speaker that might give us the wisdom we think we need. Don’t fall for it. There are brothers and sisters right around you that have what you seek and would love to help you discover great life in him. And you won’t just get platitudes or principles, but a living example and the honesty of their struggle.

If you know one of them, just invite them to lunch, or ask if you might visit. Get to know them and see what treasures spill out of their heart. If you don’t know what to talk about, here are some suggestions:

What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned on your journey?

What are you thinking about these days?

What’s the best advice you ever received about marriage (or business, or relationships, or discipleship)?

Tell me some ways God has made himself known to you?

What has been the hardest thing for you to entrust to God?

I promise you, you’ll make their day.  And yours too!

The post An Untapped Resource appeared first on Lifestream | Wayne Jacobsen.

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