Blame bad circumstances on Satan,

and credit God for the good ones?  This produces fear and instability in believers, in my experience.  Is God sovereign over everything, or not?  We give Satan waaay too much credit/power/glory, by attributing hardship, adversity, suffering, to him. The problem is never with our circumstances, but always with the way Satan tempts us to view our circumstances: fearfully, as though there is a battle going on between good and evil and if we don’t pray hard enough, evil will win.  Or.  Peacefully, thankfully, believing that God is carefully working out His sovereign and perfect plan for our lives, working all things together for the good of us kids of His.  Suffering produces perseverance, then character, then hope/faith/dependency.  Suffering is painful, but good painful.  Especially for us spiritually-learning-disabled believers.

–ShepherdDave, who thinks he knows what’s best for himself and those he loves, but needs prayer for more-dependent moments as DumbSheepDave, following his ShepherdJesus, so the pre-believers around him will want this peaceful dependency too (please pray now)

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Teacher needs prayer.

Here’s what she wrote to her Pray-ers: “Dear Friends, I have the exciting opportunity to substitute in a k4 classroom this week.  However, the classroom is very needy with lots of difficult kids.  It is totally of Jesus how this all came up.  Anyhoo, please pray for peace to come over this classroom as I’m teaching.  For me to bring the atmosphere of the Kingdom to this small little place.  I will be teaching Tuesday through Friday and will need your prayers for strength and to be able to love these little ones.  There are 3 that are super difficult.  Thanks for praying.  I’ll let you know how it goes…”

Here’s what I wrote back.  Love for any reading this to join me in praying for her this week:

“Excited to pray.  You’re a miracle-needy lady, Nancy [not her real name], so it makes sense you would be recruiting prayer for a string of miracles this week, and the BIGgest miracle of all, would be if Jesus so captures your heart and imagination throughout the week, that you are aware of Him living His life within you, instead of Nancy trying desperately to live the Jesus life.  So each time you feel stress, pressure, you will know that this is Nancy trying to live the Jesus life, but each time you feel a peace that makes no sense, because of a curiosity and expectancy to see what Jesus does next, in you and through you, you’ll know a miracle is happening.  Now, pay attention: if you are ever irritated with yourself when you catch yourself trying to live the Jesus life, you are not loving/accepting yourself unconditionally, but are filled with self-contempt for your failure to perform like you willfully wanted.  Jesus is never ever contemptful/irritated/angry about your failure: only ProudNancy.  Count on me to be praying daily for a string of miracles, and especially that Nancy will be extending grace to herself when she fails.  Now this is LIFE, Nancy.  This is FUN.  No pressure on Nancy.  Nancy’s performance in the classroom is not Nancy’s problem, or Nancy’s job.  Jesus’ problem, and Jesus’ job.  :)”

–DumbSheepDave, having the time of his life because folks pray

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Are you okay with being fearful?

Or do you dislike yourself when fearful?  This is not self-love/self-acceptance, but self-hate/self-contempt. Does Jesus love you when you’re fearful?  Of course He does.   His love for you is not conditional.  But your love for yourself, is conditional, your acceptance of yourself, is conditional, if you are irritated with yourself when you don’t perform up to your expectations.  And fear is never allowed.  Failure is never allowed.  Fear of failure is never allowed.  Fearful feelings typically result in self-rejection/self-hate.  This is sin, to hate what God loves, and the enemy could not be more pleased, than to get you hating yourself.  Why?  Because you cannot love God, and you cannot love others, while hating yourself.  Giving yourself permission to be fearful, imperfect, while not living in denial about your sin, while still loving/accepting yourself, is giving to yourself the same kind of unconditional love, that your DaddyJesusSpirit gives you.  Ahhhh.  Being as loving to yourself as your DaddyJesusSpirit is to you.  Glory.  Ecstasy.

If you try not to sin, you don’t understand sin.  Sin is not something you try not to do: sin is something you confess.  In the Church we have dumbed down the law, and dumbed down sin, to where it’s outside-the-cup kinda stuff, that’s manageable.  Like the Pharisees.  The Christian life is impossible.  There is never anything you’ve ever done, simply and only because you love Jesus: there’s a dark side, a sinful side, sinful motivation, to ever seemingly-noble, seemingly-selfless thing you’ve ever done.  You have never done anything, sinlessly, even though your flesh, the world and the devil want you to think so.  Why?  So you can feel good about yourself, based on your performance, and not need the imputed performance of Jesus, which you find unsatisfying if you can get some of your own.  And this self-righteousness/self-performance is what keeps you from enjoying God, enjoying others, and enjoying yourself, another way of describing loving God, loving others, and loving self, especially the impossible to love.  And for emotionally-wounded adults, self is the most impossible to love well.  Self-love is not selfishness/idolatry.   Selfishness/idolatry is self-hate.  I know, it seems wrong, but the devil has done a number on us.  Why?  To keep us from loving God and others with a contagious humility and a contagious love, especially pre-believers with values most different from our own.

–DumbSheepDave, smiling at himself more than ever, because folks have been praying (please keep praying, and please pray now)

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Becoming a dumb sheep is a repulsive concept

to a shepherd.  Why would any shepherd, want to be a dumb sheep?   Ultimate humiliation.   Moving from being the lofty, respected, wise and resourceful independent, all the way down to the most dependent of all: a dumb sheep, not having enough sense to come in out of the rain, needing to be shepherded, needing to be protected from self, like a toddler.   So why would any Christian or nonChristian, functioning as a shepherd, want to walk away from that high and lofty place, and go down, down, down, to the lowly, humiliating place, of functioning as a dumb sheep, dependent for everything?

Only one reason.   Life isn’t working anymore, trying to be my own shepherd, so I’m looking for something else, something better.  Only failures who know they are failures, are even remotely interested in the notion that life as a dependent offers priceless advantage over life as an independent.

–DumbSheepDave, giving up on the notion that his worldview is appealing to all the shepherd pre-believers and believers around him, for only the failures who know they are failures, seem at all interested (please pray now for more dependency in his life)

Financial update: A number of folks gave surprising gifts in December and we ended the year in the black by $3500, which is a needed help for 2012.   Thank You, Jesus!    🙂

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All my life I’ve been living in denial,

of how worthless I’ve felt, of how much I’ve hated myself.   Wow.  I would never have guessed or believed it.  But now I am learning that suppressed feelings of shame/worthlessness from childhood, lead adults to the kind of drivenness, intensity, competitiveness, trying to prove myself worthy, to myself and others, that has characterized my life.  I mean, I’ve had glimpses of this, but never saw its root as self-hate.  Wow.

Performance-based conditional self-love/self-acceptance, is the opposite of the unconditional love/acceptance of Jesus for me.  Performance-based conditional love, is what Satan offers, and what the world offers, and what the flesh offers, and this is not “love” but conditional-hatred, the opposite of the unconditional love/acceptance Jesus gives me, and I’m beginning to give myself.   Amazing difference it’s making in my daily life, even though my default mode is still failure-avoidance.   It’s always seemed so natural for me to be in a hurry, efficient, intense, that I’ve seldom given it much thought.  And now I find myself more self-aware when I’m hurrying, or intense, realizing that this intensity is rooted in self-hate, not self-love.   I have nothing to prove to myself or others, because I have the performance of Jesus imputed to me.  I’m more and more loving me just as I am, just as Jesus loves me.  Amazing.  My body is beginning to relax inside.   Ahhhh.  Peace that surpasses understanding: surpasses leaning on one’s own understanding, trying to feel good about self, based on performance as ShepherdDave.   I think there’s been a fear-based unease about my life, a hyper-vigilance, a hyper-conscientiousness, to avoid failure of any kind, at all costs.   Day and night.   Ahhhh.  The idol/addiction of failure-avoidance has lessening grip on my life.  ShepherdDave is dying and DumbSheepDave is coming to life.  I’m on a pathway of healing for the open festering wound on my soul.  I’m smiling at myself more, enjoying myself more.  And this enables me to smile at others more, and enjoy them more, rather than being critical of them, especially the inconsiderate and the uncool.  Judge not that you not be judged.  By yourself.

–DumbSheepDave, not knowing how to adequately thank folks for praying (please keep praying and please pray now)

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Big, surprising answer to prayer.

God has led me to an amazing discovery in the past week, about my throbbing gut, that is blowing my mind: it’s emotionally rooted, due to a lack of self-love.  That’s right, self-love.   Whenever I don’t love myself unconditionally as Jesus loves me, my gut throbs.  As I confess my sin of performance-based conditional self-love, trying to prove myself to myself and others, my throbbing gut subsides, because then I am accepting myself, enjoying myself, cherishing myself, just as I am, warts and all, just as Jesus loves, accepts, enjoys, cherishes me, warts and all.   Amazing.

How did I miss this before?  I guess, because self-love seeeems so selfish, and self-centered.  But what’s interesting, is that it’s just the opposite: self-hatred is at the root of idolatry, not self-love.  When I love myself, I have nothing to prove, am not insecure, don’t neeeed to perform.

But then when my gut begins to throb again, I know that I’ve stopped loving myself well, that my love for me has turned conditional, based on my performance, and I need to confess my sin of self-hatred/independence/shepherdness/idolatry, so I can return to the inner peace and joy that flow from the Spirit and have nothing to do with my circumstances.   Priceless.  While I’ve hated my throbbing gut historically, I now love my throbbing gut, that tells me when I’ve slipped back into independent/shepherdlike behavior.   I have a ShepherdDave meter!  When I listen to it.

And there’s more.  Think about it.  It’s impossible to love others as Jesus loves, when I’m not loving myself as Jesus loves.   And.  Self-love = humility: not defensive, not needing to prove self, not competitive, not intense, not agendified.   And.  When I forget that whatever I’m facing is not my problem, not my job, my gut starts throbbing again, reminding me that it’s Jesus’ problem, and Jesus’ job.  Amazing.

–DumbSheepDave, experiencing more peace like a river, and great sleep, because folks have been praying (please keep praying and please pray now)

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When I’m discouraged by circumstances,

I’m always confident of what’s best for me and those I love.   ShepherdDave, leaning on his own understanding.  My biggest need is not changed circumstances, but a changed heart: fresh conviction of the sin of independence: unbelief in His promise to work all things together for my good, and His glory: unbelief in the perfectness of His plan for me.   Discouragement is not a picture of humility, but of evil, wicked pride.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for the Spirit to freshly convict, so he is transformed afresh to DumbSheepDave, so the pre-believers around him are wowed by his joy and peace in the face of rugged circumstances, or conclude he’s crazy for being so joyful and peaceful (please pray now)

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I’d rate my circumstances a two,

on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being tops.  Okay, maybe a one.  In the past, I have rated my circumstances a 3 or 3.5 in my monthly report to GospelFriendships boardmembers, and to the folks at WHM on my monthly report as supportcoach to new missionaries.   So, why the downgrade?  Not due to finances: God’s been moving folks to give extra at year-end, and finances are looking up.

For a long time now, I think I’ve been living in denial of how harrrd my circumstances are.  I tend to suck it up and keep going, making the best of things.   What’s so hard about my circumstances?

I have chronic sensitivities to many foods (garlic, onion, pepper, to name a few), mold, wireless signals, auto exhaust, and most chemicals.  And we live off of a busy intersection.  These sensitivities affect my digestive tract, which produces insomnia, and/or leaves me feeling lousy.  I’ve lived with this for 45 years, and been to every kind of medical specialist and alternative practitioner in many locales, tried multitudes of various therapies, drugs, supplements, sleep-clinics.  Nada.

My sleep/energy the past two years is the best it’s been over the past forty years, but I go to extreme measures each day just to get eight hours of sleep at night, and even then, my sleep is interrupted three times on a good night, and I’m up for several hours on a bad night, going through the following day sleep-deprived, feeling awful, wanting to die and be with Jesus.  My extremely restricted diet of certain organic-only foods, combined with exercise, sauna, keeping our windows closed all year, multiple air cleaners, anti-wireless strategies, not eating out, and a bunch of other strategies, have contributed to this improved sleep.   But my gut never ever stops throbbing.  Most humans would be depressed at the thought of having to modify their lifestyle in such drastic ways, and feel entitled to extreme-hardship pay.   It’s just what I have to do to get half-decent sleep, feel decently, so I’ve not usually dwelled on the hardships, tended to look at more positive things.   This denial has resulted in my unwittingly giving believers and pre-believers around me a false impression of normalcy, when in fact, my life is extremely challenging, complicated, and at times downright depressing.  Poor Janet has had to live with all this most of her married life.  Our oldest daughter strongly suspects that I’m mildly bipolar, and after reading up on the diagnosis, it makes sense to me.

I can tell you this.  It’s really hard to believe/trust/rest in Jesus, when you feel awful.  The times I feel good, are incredibly awesome, and life seems incredibly easy, with my mind razor sharp, reflexes quick, and with oodles of energy.   When I feel awful, I’m learning to thank Jesus for my feeling miserable, telling Him, “Whatever it takes to get me more dependent on You, that’s what I want, Lord, because that’s when I’m the happiest.  Thank You for these perfect circumstances, custom designed for me, exactly what I need, to be retrained in a better way to live.”  I’m convinced that my suffering, combined with the prayers of GospelFriendships Pray-ers for my faith life, have resulted in an amazing difference in my life, a remarkable Jesus-dependency at times, that I’ve long-dreamed of having.  I’m still a toddler in Jesus-dependency, but praise God I’m not where I usedtabe, and life is good, because of Him, and the Pray-ers who’ve prayed for more Jesus-dependency in my life.  I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.  If Jesus can provide this for me, He can do it for anyone.   I am not special.   He is special, and able to change anyone, even someone as stiff-necked, thick-headed, and spiritually-learned-disabled as I.

–WeakDave, having the best years of his life, and thankful for friends who have prayed for him

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