Into A More Spacious Place
If you're hungry for meaningful relationships with other brothers and sisters don't wait for someone to come up with a new structure or mechanism to build another group program. Those will fail like all the others before them because they are still structures built with human hands. Jesus is knitting his body together much more simply and powerfully than that. Instead learn to live in the love of the Father right where you are, and as he shapes you with his love you'll find that the pathway to community lies through the next person in your path that God gives you to love. Wayne reads letters from all over the world of people who have been through some lonely places as they transitioned out of religious obligation, but then found themselves over time in a more spacious place of living and loving alongside all kinds of people and finding deepening relationship with some on a similar journey.
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Wow, John’s letter could have been in the Jake book. Are you sure you didn’t create that email? I am just kidding people. How thrilling to get such emails and then to share them with us is all the encouragement I need. You have given me something new to share with folks. I get a lot of people who think God is tight with me, but for them its just silence. I recognize now that what really happens is He builds the relationship with you not the other way around. I’ve lived that for quite awhile, and I have said to people stop striving and things might shift. Its just so hard sometimes to let go and relax into something your not really convinced is real. The words stop striving sound blasphemous to their ears. Love the enthusiasm in your voice Wayne.
It’s taken me quite a while to realise that Jesus doesn’t want me relaxing in a Christian community. My fellowship is with Him and my relationships are with the people he brings across my path in the world to show His love. Of course there are times when I have moaned and groaned about the loneliness and longed for someone on the same path to share with. This podcast was an encouragement as I spend time with atheists and people who don’t seem to be remotely interested in Jesus. I don’t seem to be influencing them at all. Jesus says to me. Just love them – This is where I want you to be.
Thank you Wayne for a very encouraging message. I received an Email from Dwight stating that “A Greater Gathering” pod cast is the current topic at the biweekly lunch gathering he is a part of. If my future schedule is permitting, I hope to get back involved with those brothers.
My wife received a text message from our daughter this AM that included this verse from the Psalms. “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 107:43 NIV
Thanks for the podcast. The internet has definitely created a different dynamic of relationship that cannot be discounted, and shouldn’t be. I still long for geniune face-to-face relationships that I currently find lacking, but I cannot claim utter loneliness, when there are resources all around me that speak into the depths of my soul.
I haven’t read the BIble in some time now, for whatever reason, but that hasn’t stopped God from speaking to me out of my slumber. This morning it was from Isaiah 45, which to me, explains the essence of the God Journey. I am the clay, God is the potter.
From this podcast:
“If you feel lonely and disconnected keep growing in the love of the Father, let Him teach you how to love by letting Him show His love to you.”
I believe our Father and His love for us is the foundation and purpose of everything. Being in Him, in His love is the beginning and it is the culmination of what life is all about. Out of that comes His enabling us to love others. Community to me is living loved and going from there to love others and on to the unique relationships that come from that.
As Wayne said, we can’t build relationsip with God or with others, only He can. We can respond to Him but are not the source of the building. Only He can build community and if community is based on love cannot be separated from God Himself. That leaves self effort out and it shows how being dependent on Father and having a relationship with Him does need to be our focus.
The smaller space of less relationships leaves more space for just God and us which I think is where it has to start.
Wayne says that through all of this God is shaping in us a capacity to have real relationships.
I have so much learning to do. I have been emmersed in my relationship with Him and growing slowly but surely with Him. In my own very small smaller place I am finding home is with Him. Still I can protest about the growing pains of moving into new ways of being with people especially as I see these new ways are vasty different from what I’ve had in the past and it is still very uncharted territory.
I feel very desiring of and in many ways ready for more relationships yet God seems to be still working mostly on the Him and I aspect and connections are not many times what I expect or want and He is helping me let go of many expectations. So, I continue to seek Him about how He wants fellowship and friends to be for me and He keeps saying, “I am the foundation, I am the source.” So, okay God, lets do it your way. And for me there is still much learning about what that is that needs to happen in me.
Listening to one of the last letters you read reminds me of the church that I currently attend. I left where I was almost two years ago after serving for 2.5 years as an elder. I was hurt and burned out and just have not wanted to be involved in any capacity. I simply attend worship and go to the pastor’s mid-week class. What attracted me to this church was they are open theologically, ethnically diverse and welcoming. I’m starting to notice more people trickling in who are in similar places as you discuss here on the podcast and last Wednesday was exciting for me as the pastor is leading a class on Great Figures of the New Testament. Last week’s session was on Mary and after we watched the video, to hear people share their stories about their beliefs about Mary and some of their former experiences with the Catholic Church was so refreshing. No one was their trying to convince anyone of what they should be believing. It was just a real accepting environment and you could tell that people are searching. I’m looking forward to going back. It was very refreshing! In fact, here’s the article the pastor wrote for the monthly newsletter which illustrates that he “gets” it: http://www.firstbaptistcleveland.org/pastorspage.php
This is something I really needed. I am currently without a church and this feel awkward, but I am in no hurry to get connected again. I just want to get to know Jesus and learn to live in the low of God. Now I know this journey is God ordained and I am going to rest in the Father’s love.
Just for everyone’s information, the website launch that we announced for last weekend had an epic failure and will not be launching for at least a week and probably longer. Sorry to get everyone’s hopes up there, but on the upside everyone should have been able to download this podcast easily enough…
Hi Wayne, listening to the latest podcast was a blessing as always. I’m the guy who drafted the message about his brother not understanding why I don’t go to church…the one who assumed that you and I have a “position” that is not of God. I don’t have such conversations with people whom I believe will not understand. The conversation came about because he was looking for me to assist him in building setting up a traditional church. Once I provided my belief, he assumed it was a position and thus take offense. He is familiar with you…How? I have no idea. I encouraged him to take a listen to the podcast and maybe he would get a better understanding of my heart on the matter. He came away viewing it as a “position” and thus assumed that I was in opposition to him. Of course I told him that I wasn’t and I’m not.
More importantly, I understand fully how he is able to think as he does regarding the matter.
I am grateful that because of my handling of the matter, he later contacted me and stated that he will not allow anything to separate his friendship from me and he feels that Gods love is greater than our differences.
I am always mindful of were others are in their journey because I know that it is a journey that has led me to where I am today. Theological debates are those that I never entered in even when I was apart of the institutionalize church. I have never found them beneficial or necessary.
Hearing you read my letter was such a blessing to me. I find your podcasts affirming and enriching. I’ve been listening to them for about a year now and each time I listen, they either renew or affirm what the Father is saying in my heart.
Ruben, love how you and your brother worked through this to put friendship above differences in your theological viewpoints. What a good step in this story.
I’m the reverse of the one woman’s letter who said God dropped her on an island. I was on a beautiful island (O`ahu) for 22 years where I was very comfortable…then God dropped me here on the mainland – & in the “Bible belt” to boot! After trying several institutional churches, I was so turned off by the religiosity & appearances & performance-based Christianity that I quit going at all (about 4-5 months ago). These formal churches opened up some old wounds of my youth when I was brought up in an “independent, fundamental, Bible believing/preaching/teaching church” (gag)…& school…& home (I got religion 24/7). I became extremely lonely here in an area where outsiders like me are not welcome. But I soon realized God wanted to be everything to me. So, besides 3 or 4 people (also not from this area) who God has brought onto my path, I have a nearly non-existent social life (soooo NOT like me back home). And only 1 or 2 of those ppl really seem to be on a similar journey as me. So, I listen to The God Journey, read my Bible, read books by authors who seem to speak to me (Wayne included), watch favorite preachers on TV…but can’t seem to drum up any desire whatsoever to drag myself to a church building on the traditional Sunday morning – not even the non-religious one that meets ½ mile down the road from me in a non-threatening coffee shop. I long to get through this phase of my life (& locale) more quickly & into something more satisfying, but maybe that’s what this is about. Being truly content with just Father & whomever he brings into my life. So love this forum. ? I’m so comforted by all of you & the realization that maybe I’m just not a rebellious backslidden Christian who needs to repent of my sins & get right with God! <3
Now I wonder if I’ve done something wrong…you said Wayne that to stay away from folks trying to gather folks together. We live in a rural area of NC, smack in the heart of the Bible belt where there is a fundamentalist church building on every corner. I meet with some folks occasionally that are over an hour away, but felt the need to gather with some folks locally. So I put up an announcement on the Meetup website to try and reach those few of us who are refuges out of the IC. I know that there are a lot of burn-outs from religion here, but don’t have any idea that there is an alternative.
I put in the description that this isn’t about agenda, leadership, or any person. That the we’re not sure about much of anything, but that Jesus is Lord. We don’t have the answers, but just want to gather with folks on this journey. We’ve had some folks interested and we’ll meet this coming Saturday.
Maybe nothing will come of it. When you live spread out like we do, far from neighbors, etc. it’s hard to even to know your neighbor when they are a half mile away,
Jeanne, that’s not quite what I said, or certainly not what I meant. I said to avoid those who are creating new systems, models, and movements that supplant the need for followers of Jesus to listen and follow him. However God asks you to connect, have conversations, and grow in friendships with others near you is awesome. And, yes, I think these things are worth pursuing even if nothing comes of it. The Spirit will connect us to his family as he desires, but there is great value in our being open, hospitable and gracious in opening our lives to friendships in which the Spirit is at work.
Thanks for clarifying that Wayne. I guess I was gathering it from some of the things you said. As if friendship didn’t happen “organically” and instead were orchestrated, than it wasn’t Spirit birthed.
This podcast, other than me misunderstanding something, was really excellent and liberating.
Matter of fact, the last 3 have been really nailed what I have been feeling in my heart about the
whole fellowship/meeting dynamic. Even though I gather with those out of the IC, I can no longer
take part in meets that aren’t just simply about loving one another, just simply because we want to
be together. Free of any agenda or focused on teaching, or “accomplish” something. After 35 years of
meetings where teaching is always the main focus, I’ve had my fill. But that’s just where I’m at right now and “more spacious” is a good description of what I am desiring. Thanks and Blessings!
Just listened to the podcast and I guess my family and I are there, in the lonely spot. Thank you for sharing the letters, they are encouraging.
Thank you for your continued work on the God Journey. We have been listening for a couple of years. My husband and I really appreciated the way we are challenged to think about our relationship with God, our “church” and others. We have some awesome conversations in trying to figure out our own walk with Christ.
One thing that nags at me is when you discuss development of relationships. As humans we are more likely to gravitate towards people who are more like us and affirm who we are- spiritually, economically and racially. How then do we have relationships with those who do not look like us, talk like us, think like us? While we may agree on the basics of Christianity we neglect to enter into relationships with folks who are very different. Is this not what Christ exemplified and calls us to in our relationships?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr championed the concept of a “Beloved Community”:
“In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.” http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy#sub4 It seems to me that the concept of the Beloved Community is scripturally based.
Forgive me, but when I listen sometimes I feel like, “Wayne is a financially secure white male who has the time and space to explore his relationship with Christ” without having to deal with the issues of racism, poverty or sexism. The vast majority of your guests are white and to my recollection I have yet to hear a podcast dealing with racism or inclusivity.
And I realize that it is not your intent and in my head I think maybe you would reply that God will lead us to diverse relationships if we are walking with Him. I just dont see many of my christian brethren doing that. I hope I have not offended you and I would really like to hear your response even if I am dead wrong.
As you talked about your friend that is a Morman and how you just talk about Jesus and do not try to covert each other a question came to mind that has been floating around in my mind for quite sometime. Do you think that the differernt religions that are around this world that love and pray to God and “God figures” let us call them will be in Heavon with us? I have wondered because God is not a God that accepts only one religion he does not say “I only take this group” and I don’t believe that his arms are restricted to religious settings. A good example would be Catholics and Christians because both praise God, just in differnt ways
Through my own journey I have learned that it is not so much what religion or movement you claim to be or not to be in, but the love you spread for and about God and as said “The temple is the heart” I believe that his acceptance is a litlle more broad then what is uasally accepted because I have the same love and beliefs of God as someone around the world does, the name and figure is the only yhing that is different.
Hi Wayne, Love all the podcasts – thanks for all your dedication and service. The responses are always a fascinating read. I want to comment on Tamara’s comment and say I can appreciate where she is coming from.
Hi Wayne, We have been on this journey for some time.Thanks for the refreshing.
As you mentioned about “be in Christ” and the church or temple, I have had a thought.Jesus is the Temple! Jesus is where we all are in His body!If any man be in Christ he is a new creation!Unless a man be born again he can not SEE… the Kingdom of God, ha cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
As Jesus died He cried out,It is finished”. What was finished? The old covenent! The old way of
approaching the Father.Jesus Himself became all the types and shadows in the old.The resurrection
then sealed the victory over death and hell! What is old now is fading away!