Relational Freedom

Some of my fellow-travelers to Israel took me up on my offer to share their experiences and add to the ones Sara and I offered last week. So by email, blog comment, phone, and Skype call, we're get to see this trip through their eyes. One of the undercurrents to all of this is how an environment of relational freedom allows the church to find expression simply and quite easily. You'll hear different facets of that in each of them. Community happens when we are free enough in relationships to love without agenda and without expectations, but simply accepting people where they are and becoming part of a life-giving dialog that allows Jesus to be magnified. (For those that want to skip the Israel stuff, you can pick up the relational freedom dialog at: 23:36).

Podcast Links:
When Grace Overruns Pain - Earlier Podcast With Paul and Janna Lafrance
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  1. I have very much enjoyed hearing about everyone’s experiences in Israel and would like to make the trip someday myself. My question is, to Wayne and/or anyone who took the trip, does it help to have some (or a lot) of Biblical knowledge of the region and the experiences of Jesus there to help process the trip, or enhance your experience? Or can you get by on simply the relational aspect of the journey and similarly be moved, as several of you including Wayne have described?

  2. Hi Wayne,
    Here are my thoughts, emotions and experience as I reflect on the trip to Israel with some of the coolest brothers and sisters in Christ. I did not see any of this coming when Kim and I (#33) decided to go, based on the leading of the Lord. Our youngest son joined and came which was a blessing. Jesus’s finger prints were all over the trip even in the beginning. When we arrived at Tel Aviv airport I was rewarded for doing a good deed (helping a young mother with her luggage which she was very thankful) with an escort to airport security who wanted to take me to the police. ? They were upset about my going in and out of a gate and not reading the signs. Funny thing was when we retraced my steps there were no signs other than the one that said “Welcome”. ? I think Father redeemed the situation and was having fun with them. My new brothers and sisters thought it was funny, but I was ever so glad to be on that bus.
    The two things I will remember the most were the friends I met and Jesus who so thoroughly loves us. Going to Israel was not on my bucket list or anything like that. So I had no expectations or any thoughts about what I would see. But as we began to visit the sites such as Nazareth and Capernaum I was realizing this is the place where Jesus lived and began his ministry. We visited the site in Capernaum and saw Peter’s house and the city that Jesus spent time with his disciples. What began to happen was a bit of disappointment because it seemed so unimpressive. I was very surprised at my reaction and tried to ignore my feelings and thoughts about it. I was feeling ashamed that I was not more excited about what I was seeing. But I knew that shame leads to thinking, “What is wrong with me?” and I knew that was not the path that leads to Truth (Jesus). So I began to ask Jesus how come I was thinking and feeling this way. I was at peace leaving it with him to sort it out. All the time I was having an awesome time connecting with Andrew, Roger, Susan, Denise, Alena, Rod, Brad, Iris, Ruth, Wayne, Daniel, Barb, younger Andrew, Lynn, Philip, Jason, Curt, Joni, Sara, Kevin, Ron, Katie, Paul, Janna, Adrian, Doina, Rick, Craig, Hideko, Jill, Michael, Doug, Donna, Bob, Pamela, Dominique, Steve and of course Silvio. Then the unexpected happened to me that changed how I felt about Jesus. The day we entered Jerusalem we visited a church called St. Anne”s which had amazing acoustics. Daniel, our guide, had encouraged us to sing inside when we sat down. Lynn began to sing and started to encourage others to sing which we all began to do. There are no words to adequately to describe the beauty and fullness I felt. As I was singing I had an overwhelming joy of the love Father had for me. I had to stop singing because I couldn’t keep from crying, but I was not sad but overwhelmed with love I felt from Jesus. It was like the love of God/Spirit just fell right on us. I had never experienced anything like it (conservative Baptist, you know) of that intensity. That night I woke up around 2:30am and asked the Father what that experience was all about at St. Anne’s. He said, “I was giving you a bear hug like the one at Cornelius’ house”, but I was not sure at first what he was saying. Then the Lord reminded me where I had learned this about him. In the story of the awesome love of the Father for his wayward son (known as the prodigal son story) he (Father) ran to meet his son when he saw him coming home and “fell on” or “embraced and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). The same words (Acts 10:44) are used to describe when the Spirit “fell on” the house of Cornelius with Peter. Father had just given me a big bear hug and even as I type out these words right now I’m still overwhelmed in my heart to feel so loved by Father. Then all of a sudden I realized how awesome it was that God became man. How radical it was for Jesus (God) to be a man. How it showed how much Father loves humanity. Jesus (God) was not one bit feeling any shame being a man. The living and commonness of being a man now was pillar or rock and testimony of the love of God. Jesus was around smelly men, got dirty and sweaty working, stepped on sharp rocks when walking, ate food made by friends that did not taste good but ate it anyway, people did not like him, he got excited when he saw the Father working in others, cried, hurt, felt the love of others, got hot, got cold, used the bathroom or lack thereof and everything that goes with being human and not an ounce of shame. There was nothing wrong with Him being human and being Him. He was so comfortable in our skin. Wow does Father love us and, wow, what a Jesus!! The rest of the trip I was just in a new awe of Jesus. It seems so obvious that Jesus came to recreate a new breed of man via the rebirth and new creation. I Cor. 15:45 “…The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
    I did talk to a few others about that experience at St. Anne’s which I believe some had similar experience with the Spirit, but I know it is not important that we all experience the same thing because that would be too boring. ? The whole trip I wished everyone lived so close to us so we could get together and enjoy Jesus together. I wanted to hear more about their journeys. I just could not help but love everyone. We were not people who did not have any problems but it did not matter. What mattered to me, was them. Also people were willing to accept love as much as give it. No one seemed put off by others weaknesses. There may be other things I would like to write about, but I am tired and I have run out of things to say. ? Good night Wayne…

  3. Also enjoyed these podcasts about Israel. Can’t see myself there in the near future. Anybody know any good DVDs of Israel covering the landscapes and life of Jesus there?

  4. Wow Greg- Awesome words!! Thank you for that comment! How wonderful that all of you had such a blessed time with each other and experience such “God Surprises”. He does that- the Father I mean.

    Now my jealousy has reached its peak after this podcast, so Wayne you definitely have to get another trip going again in the near future. 🙂

    As I leave I will leave this wonderful song- enjoy! Beautiful Things by Grungor

  5. Ron, the short answer to your question is yes, it will mean more the more background you have. But for many being in Israel is the incentive to go back and get that knowledge now that they’ve had a firsthand experience. The relational stuff is great, but you can honestly have that anywhere and there are cheaper places to go and spend time with people on this journey. I think God meets us where we are, so it can be as meaningful on a spiritual plane for one who has great knowledge, and one who is only gaining it but has a big engagement with the Spirit…

  6. Wow I enjoyed this podcast way more than I expected too! I was expecting to feel jealous that you guys got to experience a knitting together without us , and then feel guilty for being jealous . But in stead you guys sharing what He was doing in your hearts during that awesome trip somehow made me feel connected with you all! My heart longs to connect on A personal level with more of my brothers and sisters !!!!! Half way through it I told my wife ” we are not alone”! A part of us went with you guys and to some extent by faith we share in your joy ! Some of your personal experiences realy touched me especially about the reversing the song you were singing to realize His affection for His son and also for us adopted kids us is so great! I thought I was strange for seeing things in reverse but it looks like I’m not the only one! Lol and wow Greg ! So good to here other men finding and living in such an infectious Love! Most of the Men in my life don’t talk about heart matters and feel uncomfortable to hear others talk about them as well. I don’t blame Them because I have been one of them for most of my life. Many will talk religion, politics or doctrine but when I talk about A living God living inside of me who is reclaiming the promised land ( My heart) and talking to me and I to Him like my best friend, older brother, and Father, most clam up or want to change the subject. How can we resist such a great love? And once again Thank you Wayne For hosting this podcast I loved your thoughts!

  7. I gave an involuntary laugh when I heard the gentleman in one of the Skype conversations say, “I was worried when I realized we were going to be w/ 36 other Christians for that period of time…I can’t remember the last time I spent time w/ that many Christians & wasn’t annoyed.” Boy can I relate to that! That’s the main reason (even when I was still attending a weekly institutionalized church service) I quit going to women’s retreats & outings! Hated it! I left them feeling more irritated than “blessed”! Then when he said, “How amazingly free…” – I loved hearing that! I do love the freedom I have with several of my friends who are on similar journeys so I can imagine what it might’ve been like for all of you on this Israel trip. And yes…I’m one of the jealous ones! But I listened to the whole podcast anyway. 😀 (It’s on my Bucket List.)

  8. Hi Everyone

    Great podcast.

    Wayne I thought you mentioned in your podcast that you don’t think life can just spring up out of debating theology. I disagree. I have found and seen life come out of discussing or debating theology. I think though it comes back to the motive behind continuing in the discussion. Once though, my focus was about being right or arguing for the sake of it. That did not bring force life, but death sadly. Now my focus is about finding life.

    Another factor about whether debating theology brings forth life is how one conducts themselves. Am I actually loving the other person?

    Ideally brothers and sisters should always be able to discuss and explore the ways of life together. The problem though is if that is all that is ever talked about, there is not much depth to the relationship. It becomes a minimal expression of community.

    I Hope my comments are insightful


  9. Hi Dion. You seem to smoosh together “discussing” and “debating” theology as the same thing, when I’d draw a distinction between the two. I’d use “debating” when people have the need to be right and argue their point with certainty, not even listening or processing what the other is saying. You’re right, that does lead to death. Life often comes when people are in a reasoned discussion about theology from a humility of heart that seeks to understand what the other is saying. Agreeing or disagreeing isn’t even a factor. But I’ve learned to withdraw quietly from any dialog where someone has the need to convince me of something, because ultimately they are not trusting the Spirit to bring me to truth in his way. A discussion is just the first step to seeing what God will make clear over time and people who don’t know that are exhausting people among the family.

  10. Wayne I like that…” A discussion is just the first step to seeing what God will make clear over time” !
    It puts the yoke of making each other understand on his shoulders . And at the same time frees us kids to talk about things we have questions about. I for one have learned a great deal from talking about things before I understand them with someone else that does not have the answer either. Many times the Truth and Life we seek is hidden in the question itself and sometimes during the conversation The spirit in us will make it clear but many times it will take more time to be revealed.
    Could it be He is the one who brings the question to our minds in the first place?

    I have found this to be fruitless and frustrating if either party has an agenda of their own and if I sence an agenda…. count me out !!!

  11. Hi Wayne

    I Have smooshed “discussing” and “debating” theology together as it can be sometimes difficult to discern the heart of another in a conversation. It can be possible too that one is discussing while the other is debating I guess.

    I argee that it’s not about “argeeing” and “disargeeing” too. As god has given everbody the freedom to decided for themselves what they believe and nobody should ever cross that. I know for me I want to consider others point of view lest I be in error. Maybe it could appear like someone is being arguementive or not processing, when really they are presenting another point of view to be considered, which they hope aswell would be processed. A gift. The person giving the gift of information should hopefully check with papa if they are meant too. and the person recieving the information needs to decided if it was from the fathers heart for them or not and is their’s to use the informaiton with as they the will.

    A discussion is one marjor way “iron sharpens Iron”. For Iron to actully sharpen Iron there needs to be a clash. I assume that the more engaged or willness to work with the other piece of iron the more effective the sharpening is. If we only listern to the people that agree with us about everything. we limit our growth.

    Me too Harvey. I have learned alot from talking about things before I understand them. And I comepeltely think the spirt raises questions with in us.

    To me it’s not so much about the agenda, that is if you define agenda as a plan. it’s the being used for peoples own selfish reasons that I think is the problem. Father god has an agenda or plan for us. but its is our choice to whether or not we want to partener him. surely we are not gonna run from god casue he longs to engage us with his plan (ways to find life).

    The bible is full of god parterning with his people from the front to the back. it’s very clear that he wants to use his body to minister to the rest of his body. If true ministry (servicing/looking out for people) isn’t an agenda. My definition of agenda is wrong. I think there is a diference between argenda and a selfish agenda. ultimately we should learn somebody heart for us and look for what the holy spirit is saying to us in all conversations to go forward. 🙂

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