Not Made With Hands

A persistent theme throughout Scripture is that God is so much bigger than any box humanity can design to contain him, and a persistent human passions seems to be to design something that can sustain his life among us. It's a recipe for disaster, and it's a disaster that has been repeated many times. Wayne shares his own growing edge this week to expand the conversation begun in The Greater Gathering about seeding community in the world rather than manufacturing another system that will fall short. Why do we continue to seek for systems that we can use to carry God's work in the world, rather than trust that simple people living in the love and life of Jesus will accomplish all he wants to do?

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  1. I found this podcast very substantive. I believe in Christ and I attend a Sunday service with my wife and three boys every, well, most every Sunday. Personally, I believe it is all about Jesus and the relationship with God that he exemplifies. The physical church frustrates me at times but I go there and try to do what I try to do everywhere I go, from home to work; live with the love Jesus calls for in my heart and in my words and actions. It is a huge struggle, haha. The physical church does NOT make it easier for me to do this. It is merely another place where I am challenged to be loving. I am at the point in my relationship with God where I try, at all times, to keep my will silent and listen to the will of God. Here, in my opinion, is the struggle of our lives here on earth; distinguish God’s voice from our own and follow His. You read an email on this podcast from a guy who wrote he felt getting to know God and having Him in his life would be like winning the lottery or something like that… I think getting to know God and having him in your life is more like learning a new language. Even more so, it’s like learning a new language from an invisible person and this language is not often verbal but more often emotional, physical, intellectual, and at times, absolutely silent. Every time I feel separated from God (and this is often!) it is because I am in the way. I am listening to my will and even if I’m listening to my own will just a little bit, it seems to make me absolutely deaf to the will of God. Thank you for what you do Wayne Jacobsen.

  2. Wayne, I loved this podcast. You have nailed for me the nature of the “system” that many of us have wrestled with over so many years, that “promised what it was unable to deliver”. Not because of the well indentioned people involved but because of the very nature of the system that has to be maintained. Thanks for your insight, it confirmed so much of what is on my heart, as it relates to the “institutional system”, very helpful.

  3. hey Wayne 🙂

    Just a quick one !!

    I think in the heart of man we will always want to be doing something for God.

    Weather its build a building, do something for an individual it will always be in our nature.
    weather or not its the best thing to be doing? most of the time its not.
    But i think as we trust god more and more we find all that he wants us to do is be his son.

    I use to picture him in earlier stages of my life where i would ask him what do you want me to do,

    I would always have my own idea and thoughts on him pointing to…. this task…. this task…. the next and so on.

    This had no affect on my life at all except my own concept and a head full of rubbish (mind you my heart was still willing and submissive). He had come to me one evening and said why are you struggling with your hearts desires when you already know who i am and your desires are all pointed to me ? Immediately i knew in wonderful calming relaxing way god was disciplining me to faith, faith that i had already had in me through him. he was asking me to trust him and stop making things hard for myself.

    What i guess i am aiming at here is as much as we go down the controlling roads we always seem to drift off into, or what ever road it may be there is nothing we can do but to trust in father and be his son who knows his love. learning to live forgiven and loved and be relational with him. All of this comes from faith!

    after all the struggles, pain and joy, comforts and warm conversations i know that in the end of the world i will be standing in front of my father alone holding him as tightly as i can and say to him i heard you and you had heard me. and i think i would just say thank you cause thats all he has told me to do is be thankful :))

    Doesnt get any more simple than this !!

    haha just thought i share this with you and anyone who sees it

    Cant wait to see you guys at home!! 😀

    haha cheers phil

  4. Wayne,

    I thought of this after listening to the podcast…its a story from one of the first ‘Christian’ books I read as a young believer 20 years ago…

    An elderly pastor was asked to describe how he viewed the ministry. He said when he was young he saw his people as if they were in this polluted mucky river, drowning. His job was to stand on the high bank and shout instructions on how to get out of the muck. In mid-life, he said, he saw himself as creeping down to the water’s edge, leaning over, and pulling people out. But after about thirty years, he decided his job was to jump into the muck with them, hold on to them, and tread like crazy.

    Thank you, Wayne, for making the decision to jump into the muck with us. It has made all the difference in my God journey, and many others as well.

  5. A benevolent lead ‘church’ is as evil as the malevolent lead ‘church’ because it is the system that draws and men that rule.

  6. This has been one of the best topics of discussion I have heard from you in a long time. What I really mean is that I heard Jesus speaking through you, Wayne. The point that God does not dwell in buildings of brick and stone extends to systems is profound. I have looked at systems of government, both civil and religious, and compared that with what Yahweh said to Samuel when Israel cried for a king, they rejected God, not Samuel. The government of God is misunderstood because we easily confuse the governments of men (civil and religious) as the same as how God governs.

    In meditating on your podcast afterwards, I realized two things. First, I have known that there is only one Pastor, Jesus Christ, and that He is my Pastor. But I have seen God does have organic pastors that has used temporarily to help me. None have ever come from the pulpit. All were members of congregations and my friends. I realized today that you are an organic pastor serving Christ in a very unique way, Wayne. Thank you for your service.

    Second, your wife Sarah deserves to know how she has indirectly encouraged me, and I believe others, too. Your podcast on how you and Sarah had learned to let each other have your own journey’s with Christ, trusting the Lord in his care for each spouse, totally transformed my own marriage years ago. In this podcast your little story about her garden and that you were not to make rules for her garden with the grand kids is so profound. God is more than able to take care of his kids when they mess up His garden, and the love and joy that produces the mess is worth the small effort of cleaning up the mess later. Thank you for sharing that. Please tell Sarah that she is a wonderful encouragement to me and others.

  7. Wayne
    Your comment about, cash credit and control rang so true. As an ex-pastor I remember a seminary professor you stated, as a pastor I would never be evaluated on any form of spiritual growth, but evaluations would be based on bodies, bricks and bucks. You and he are both correct, all business catagories. The system, no matter what the form, becomes its own living entity. Therefore it will self protect no matter the cost to thei individual involved. Conformity is the standard requirement for all systems.

  8. I so relate to the pastor’s comments towards the end of the podcast. I struggled with what to do with what I was learning, how I saw Jesus coming to life in me and in my group. I think you and I “talked” about this back then. After 18 months of struggle I made the decision to walk away. I told my group and asked them what they wanted to do? How did they want to proceed? I called in my local area pastoral leader and he came in and sat among us. When he asked them what they wanted, how they wanted to proceed? They told him they wanted to be connected to Jesus far more than the denomination (Grace Communion International). We are still extremely loosely”connected” to GCI, but that is mostly in name only. We have some who query every now and then whether we should look into getting a space for us to meet, at which point I scream, “Over my dead body!!” I remind everyone of the freedom they have to leave our group with no animosity of strings attached. We love them for who they are as people, families. We gather with no pressure on attendance. We don’t count how many times you come vs. how many you stay home or go elsewhere. We gather because we just like being around each other. We let the Spirit tell us what he wants to talk about. Occasionally we agree to study something or another, though we don’t always “stick to the script” because the Spirit has led us in a different direction. But that is ok, too.

    It is weird, however, when one of the people in the group has to describe what they do they still call me the “pastor.” I discourage them every chance I get, but old habits die hard. We all gathered on a wine tasting last weekend. They told the woman at one of the places we went that we were all part of the same “church.” When the woman asked, “Who’s the pastor?”, all finger immediately pointed my way. No matter what I did to dissuade them, they still said, “OK, he’s not the ‘pastor’, but he’s the ‘leader’, ‘facilitator’, ‘owner of the house we usually gather at.’ I guess I’m more ok with the latter descriptions than ‘pastor.’ Jesus is and forever will be our guide, our pastor. I like it that way. I don’t have to find a way to entertain or guilt the group. We just talk about whatever. I still have some pangs about it every now and again, but the Lord constantly reminds me not to fret that he is more than capable of leading and teaching. I like not having to stress.

  9. It is amazing how many people are coming to the same conclusions as they are growing and on the journey. A musician I really enjoy, said in last months Rolling Stone magazine, mind you his parents are in ministry, did not like to call himself a Christian. Oh is he getting flack for it now! But when I read it, I understood a bit of what I think he was saying.

    My heart lept when I heard Wayne’s words. “Christianity promises people a meaningful relationship with God and then it can’t provide it”. The trying to make it work, re doubling the effort.

    I am excited to hear of people who are getting off the system and going on another way. Still Jesus, still deepening in their relationship with God, but a different way.

    I am so glad you read Elenore’s letter. Thank you.

  10. Sometimes when my wife is telling me of her day or her frustrations I try and find a solution to fix it and she says she just wanted to be listened to. Man has a habit of trying to fix people when it’s not our job to do so, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job, we have to learn to trust Him. We just need to know that there are others listening and supporting us on our journey. This is the simplicity and beauty of our gatherings.
    The other fix we apply is to try and make something always be there, to make it the same next time, a “build a booth” mentality. We end up systematizing things so they are reproducible but you cannot reproduce the essence, the good time, the fun, the fellowship, by replacing it with a system to get there quicker. That’s because it’s the journey together that delivers the prize. Take a supersonic plane to your destination and you will miss the fellowship of having walked there together.

  11. Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. HIM hear!” Matt 17:1-5

    Now I get it.

  12. Thanks Dzach, I should have made it clearer that booth = tabernacles, with the reference.

  13. Thanks Aims. Funny thing is that I read thru the different posts but somehow didn’t see yours until right after I posted. Until I listened to this podcast, I had never so clearly seen that the booths/tabernacles that Peter was proposing were simply human constructs to systemize or capture in a tent (or box) what God had done (Moses and Elijah) and was currently doing (Jesus), instead of just simply following Jesus’ voice.

  14. I hope these thoughts compliment the discussion within “Not Made with Hands”. They have been on my heart since listening to the opening letter…

    I was having lunch with my son a few weeks ago. Our conversation turned towards Father’s love and his working in our lives. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling very loved that day, and I began to complain about how abandoned I felt. As we wrapped up, my son quickly stated that he didn’t believe God was going to “baby” us throughout our entire life journey. I traveled home that afternoon and began to think of the expectations I had placed on Father to clean up my messes – to provide a world of ease and experiences with little or no discomfort.

    The more I listen to the podcast and read through the community comments within this forum, I am convinced that Father uses our feelings of loneliness, fear, and frustration to drive us deeper into his arms.

    Didn’t Wayne mention in “Transitions” that Father is like an artist who enjoys the creative process of discovery as much as the finished work, itself? For me, it has taken some hard hits and chipping away for Father to reveal a glimpse of the beauty he is working within my life.

    I hope life is a creative discovery of who Father truly is… of encouraging us to mature into people healthier than we have been in the past… and of practicing a life of love through faith in Father and his processes – even if they don’t make much sense to us at the time.

  15. Bear with me: So I went to a talk the other day about the impact of the design company Marimekko, started in Finland in 1951. It was really interesting to hear how the founder, Armi, treated all her designers as family – invited them to her summer home, cared about them as people, gave them freedom in their creativity. She signed even her business correspondence, “Love Armi” and always included something personel in them, that showed her consideration of the other person’s perspective. I suppose it may sound a little funny to talk about relationships within a company after this podcast, but I am just recently slowly realizing how a relational approach translates beyond christianity and into all life (and of course why wouldn’t it? This is God’s creation too). God’s just blowing my mind a little bit with this one. What if I approached everything through relationship? Not as a system, but as a practice of love?

    I agree with Pax Figioli’s comment that this podcast was “substantive.”

  16. @Christina-Thanks for your words. To begin looking at all of life through the framework of love/relationship rather self defense is such a “mind blowing” process : ) I am one of those who is slowly coming out of a strong religious system….learning to love people who are still there, watching as Father unfolds a new network of community, learning to relax into His leadership as I still have so many questions….when I’m overwhelmed coming back and back to Him. Yes the impact of this way of thinking includes every aspect of life…family, business colleagues, strangers who cross our paths… Seems there’s a lot of patience to be learned as Jesus unpacks this and we slowly learn to keep in step with him (not running ahead or lagging behind).

  17. I loved this Wayne and the recognition of the ‘system’. When you realise there are systems of this world and they operate in a particular way it makes it much easier to love people and realise its not personal.

    In the last few podcasts you’ve touched on whether grace is a licence to sin. Although I think it’s the wrong question to ask, is the answer not really yes. If the question is ‘do I have permission?’ – the answer is yes – but not all things are beneficial. The reason I think that it’s the wrong question is that it’s the law system that requires you to ask permission. I’ve reached the same conclusion that Galatians is all about the lie of self-effort or works righteousness vs the gift of rigtheousness.

    The law of sin and death/knowledge of good and evil/works righteousness/self effort ‘system’ will always destroy. It’s this law that is the very strength of sin itself (1 Cor 15:56). And it condemns you to a life of living what you don’t want and unable to live what you do. (Romans 7)

    The life in God sets us free from this condemned way of life. The more you realise you are free the greater dominion you actually have over sin. Is this not the heart of the gospel? A completely new way of living? I realise it’s a bit out there but this ‘system’ thing is key – IMHO. The fruit of self effort is lying, cheating, devouring each other … and Paul says we overcome this by leaving the ‘law system’ (not mosaic law but works righteousness – a system where you need to ask permission) by leaving this system and coming to the ‘gospel system’ – a new and living way. The choice to live in freedom and do whatever you want will actually produce the life you are looking for.

    Freedom is much scarier than bondage. It reveals where we are at – to ourselves and to others. God always knew. I just wonder if we really believed how loved we were, we’d realise how free we are and that same love the gives birth to freedom would compel a way of living that knows nothing of the restraints of ‘systems’?

  18. I took your encouragement to look at Galations with fresh eyes and it only took the first line to “hit me over the head” –
    … Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through man but through Jesus Christ and God the Father……!!
    It is like Paul is “throwing down the gauntlet” to all “systems”.
    And of course this is not just about apostles but about the danger of looking for validation of who we are from any “system”. True validation comes only ‘through Jesus Christ and God the Father’.

    I’ve been sitting on a quote from Joseph Ratzinger recorded about 10 years before he became Pope Benedict about the bureaucratic machinery of the “church”.
    “The more administrative machinery we construct, be it the most modern, the less place there is for the Spirit, the less place there is for the Lord, and the less freedom there is.”

    I feel for guys like him, and now this Pope Francis – they know where things aren’t working – and I believe they seek to do their best. But systems put walls around you.

  19. Wayne I am a part of a group that came to some of the same conclusions. We have seen the ” church” become the avenue for control, abuse of power, etc. and each
    Leader is assured God has ordained him to lead and we are to get on board to be accepted.
    Ou life experiences have not been enough to cause us to see the Kingdom differently until we have studied Old Testament history and it’s timeline to understand God’s purpose was a spiritual kingdom and not a natural one. We meet together now separately from our local body ( some still attend the main service at church because of family or other obligations) to continue on in our learning where we openly discuss and hash this out.
    How many believers see that we just have taken a temple and priest pattern and brought ithat system into our time? The second temple after Babylonian captivity (destroyed after the Romans overran Jerusalem) never had the ark of the covenant after Babylonian captivity) was the one Messiah came to, and where the vail was torn when he was crucified because he doesn’t dwell in brick and mortar. We are his spiritual temple. It is these understanding these truths through history that have opened our eyes to his purposes. Walking out the change when you have young grandchildren and you have always been a part of that system is very difficult when they don’t understand and feel you are being a rebel.

  20. Dear Wayne,

    Everything you shared on this podcast resonates with my own experience and journey, and I would very much like to put a transcript of what you share on that podcast on my own blog, but I would have to type it all up as I listen to it again. Do you have it on a document that you can pass on to me electronically so that I simply cut and paste it onto my blog, that is of course assuming I have your permission to do this?

    Many of those who follow my blog are travelling on this same road of freedom in Christ outside the institutional church and organised religion, and I am absolutely convinced this particular podcast will be incredibly encouraging for them and utterly enlightening for those who are searching. I know that if I just put a link to your website, many won’t bother to go onto it and read it. If I just insert the whole thing as a post, once they start reading, they will get to the end for sure.

    Be blessed!


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