This week I talk with Jason Elam about God’s unfailing love for us.
Jason Elam, host of The Messy Spirituality Podcast, shared some very personal stories about his faith journey.
- At seven years old he made his first profession of faith in a very legalistic church
- As a teen, he “died” during an operation, saw a Jesus type presence, and came back to life, full of an indescribable sense of God’s love
- His childhood dream of being a professional wrestler did not last as long as expected
- For 20 years, he was a pastor of a local church
- But an encounter with God’s overpowering love caused him to completely change his strict, legalistic, and conditional-love-based theology in a moment
- He now hosts the Messy Spirituality Podcast and provides a safe space for people to ask hard questions about their faith as well as find and experience the love of God in their lives
- He also helps people who have recently been incarcerated to rediscover their dignity and find employment.
Questions I asked Jason:
Why did you start the Messy Spirituality Podcast?
“I wanted to give space to the voices of people who aren’t being heard. I love hearing people talk about feeling loved for the first time.”
What do you say to someone who has just been released from prison?
“The most important thing I can do for these men and women coming out is just to say, ‘I’m listening to you. I see you. I hear your voice. I hear your worth. And I believe your best days are yet to come.'”
What’s the best way to be supportive of someone who has just been released from prison?
“Just open your heart. All it takes is one open heart that’s willing to make room for them. Give them a seat at the table. Because it’s not our table and we don’t get to write the guest list.”
Jason, what makes you tick?
“Somewhere along the way, I got captivated by Jesus. I was clinically dead and saw, someone I perceived to be Jesus. The light coming from this being is the purest, most accepting love I’ve ever encountered. And in the presence of that love, I knew that nothing that I ever had done that I thought was so disappointing to my parents and so disappointing to God, none of that mattered. There was room for me and everybody else in the presence of that kind of love.”
What are your gifts?
“Communication and vulnerability.”
You had a serious case of Covid. What did you learn from that experience?
“The most important thing was the my family knew I loved them.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in the last few years?
“That everybody’s got pain that we don’t know about. The best thing we can do is come along side people and just be present with them. What we need more than anything is a friend who’ll walk beside us in the good and the bad.”
“Loving my kids as they are is what teaches them to trust themselves and helps them tap into who they’re meant to be, who they were created to be.
How would you describe the deconstruction process you went through?
“The spiritual house I lived in burned down around me. But once I was standing there in the smouldering ashes of my faith, I looked up and remembered the God who loved and accepted me no matter what. I can live there and invite others to join me.
Why are people leaving church?
“A lot of these people are not leaving because they want to go out and sin. They’re not leaving because they’re disillusioned with Jesus or with God. They’re leaving because the institution has decided that the survival of the institution is more important than the people in the family. They are leaving to follow Jesus, not to walk away from him, because the institution that bears his name looks nothing like him.
What is church really about?
“It’s about our relationship with God.
What is the rock church is supposed to be built on?
“It’s the rock of people hearing God for themselves.”
What was Jesus’s idea of what church should be?
“I think the church Jesus dreams of is a family, where there’s a seat at the table for everybody.”
What makes you so passionate about Jesus?
“When you have an encounter with Jesus, you just can’t get over it.”
When someone is questioning their faith or what they’ve been taught, what can they do?
“I think asking questions is always a good thing.”
How do you pray?
“Now my prayers are much shorter. They always end in silence because I want to hear what God has to say. I want to experience the presence of the Almighty in every moment.”
Anything you want to talk about that no one ever asks you?
“Not really. I just want everyone who’s listening, to know that wherever you are today, you are not alone. You are more loved than you can possibly imagine.
If you could talk to anyone in the Bible other than Jesus, who would it be?
“The man from whom Jesus cast out the Legion of demons. I want to know his backstory. I want to know what it was like to encounter Jesus is such a way that brought him freedom.”
Is there anyone in the Bible you identify with?
“Peter. He had a foot-shaped mouth. I know he felt like an absolute failure [when he denied Jesus three times] and I have definitely felt that way.”
How would you describe Jesus’s original message of how he wants us to live our lives?
“I think it’s a lot simpler than we’ve made it out to be. When we root everything in love, a love that loves everybody where they are. Jesus was really good at that and I think we can follow his way. If we’re going to reflect Jesus to this world, we’ve got to let him heal us.”
Jason Elam’s info:
Books referred to:
The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Outby Brennan Manning
Abba’s child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning
Messy Spirituality: God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People by Mike Yaconelli
Podcast episode referred to:
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
49 I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.
50 And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.
18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
17 Pray without ceasing.
27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them.
33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
34 When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.
35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
36 They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.
37 Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.
38 Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,
39 Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.
5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him
58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.